Safety and space features of new dance center

Jeremy Taff

University dance students will no longer have to suffer from the hard floors of Norris Hall’s gymnasium.
After a month of deliberation, the Board of Regents on Thursday approved plans to build a new dance studio on the West Bank campus. Construction of the $4.3 million center was agreed on after original plans to renovate an area church and make it a studio didn’t work out.
The building will rest on the corner of 21st and Riverside avenues, where a parking lot now sits. The plan will also eliminate part of Fifth Street, where a park will be put in its place.
Community business leaders and members of the West Bank Community Coalition and the Old Neighborhood Caucus unanimously approved the studio earlier this month.
“I think that’s really wonderful,” Regent Patricia Spence said. She said the regents had not gone through the proper neighborhood groups until earlier this month, which caused them to delay the approval.
The University had problems last month approving the center because neighborhood concerns had yet to be heard.
“We needed to clarify the community’s opinions, wants and needs,” Regent Maureen Reed said. “It was time well-spent.”
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Joan Campbell described the concerns of the community last month.
“They mostly have to do with parking, the encroachment of the University into their neighborhood and the lack of communication — always bringing things to the neighborhood at the last minute,” she said.
But regents said they are trying their best to make the center blend into the community as well as be consistent with University buildings in the area.
Officials from the University’s dance program have said the new dance center is needed because of the injury risk with the current facilities in Norris Hall. The gymnasium’s hard floors have been blamed for numerous injuries in the past.
“They deserve better space,” Spence said. “There are a number of students in the program, which is highly ranked nationally.”
Regents compared the quality of the dance program to that of a Gophers basketball team going to the Final Four three years in a row.
The new studio will have a spring floor with three dance studios, a performance space and an outside amphitheater.