The Dance Complex is a 25+ year old central hub of dance- locally, regionally, and nationally. Our building, an 1884 circa Odd Fellow’s Hall in the heart of Central Square, Cambridge, is home to a crossroads of diverse movers and dancers. We enable the creation, study, and performance of dance; We sustain artists, audiences, and the community through programs that connect movement and ideas; We celebrate the wonder and curiosity of dance for all. The Dance Complex is a unique arts center where professional, pre-professional, and recreational movers can find a variety of movement and dance classes, can access affordable studio space, and participate in programs to help strengthen their choreographic, performance, and production skills. We invite the community to join us for over 100 concerts a year in our theatre and studios. Those who dance, teach and create within our studios receive valued space in a supportive environment for affordable rental rates. Founded by members of the local dance community, The Dance Complex is sustained by a staff of artist/administrators, resident companies and artists, renowned teaching artists, a working board of directors and a corps of volunteer Work Study Program participants.
The Dance Complex generally closes for Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving. We often take days off around Christmas through New Years. Annually, we close for approximately 2 weeks leading up to and including Labor Day, to clean and refurbish. The Home, Class Schedule and Youth Schedule pages will announce the exact dates as they get close.
The Dance Complex is housed in an 1884-circa, 5-story building, originally built as meeting rooms for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a philanthropic fraternal brotherhood. By the mid to late 20th century, the building became used as aerobic/fitness and dance studios known as Joy of Movement Center. In 1991, when the fitness entity experienced financial problems and closed its doors, a group of local dance-makers, led by founder Rozann Kraus, negotiated with the City of Cambridge and lending institutions to maintain the building as a dance center.
Then, as now, faculty and resident artists include world-renowned teachers and dance-makers. From its early days, a team of Work Study students along with the founding faculty donated their time to create a studio administration that was artist-centric, striving for affordable rental rates for teachers and dance-makers. A studio "time-share" system was created to put the profits from classes in the hands of the teachers; in turn, class fees to students were kept below the local and national norm. This model continues today.
The community at The Dance Complex is reflective of its locale: Cambridge traditionally attracts all kinds of people from all corners of the world, and this is reflected in the artists, their classes and performances at The Dance Complex.
From its inception, The Dance Complex has hosted dozens of genres and dance styles and is the resident home of several dance-makers and teaching artists. A long tradition of mentoring, resulting in a series of Shared Choreographers' Concerts over many years, allowed younger artists the benefit of seasoned choreographers' advice. DanceMonth, in May, dedicated the month to dance-centric activities that extended beyond the building's walls and into the ever-changing Central Square community. Founder Rozann Kraus, lead-dreamer and lead-catalyst, conceived these projects and was assisted by an able staff of working artists, teaching artists and work study students, along with partners in the community.
The Julie Ince Thompson Theater (Studio 1) is named in honor of the late-Boston based dance maker and offers an intimate loft style performance space. Throughout the years, inter/nationally renowned guests performed in the theatre, including those artists and companies produced by Dance Umbrella, a pioneering, locally based presenting organization. The mix of out of town productions with Boston and regional offerings brought local presentations to a new standard.
The building was secured for purchase through arrangements with the City of Cambridge, the Central Square Business Association and lending institutions. As a new entity, The Dance Complex was sheltered originally under Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (then CMAC, now Multicultural Arts Center) as the title holder. In the mid-2000's, the building was transferred to The Dance Complex as owner of the building.
In the twenty-plus years of its existence, The Dance Complex has become a recognized regional center for dance and movement arts. The Work Study Exchange Participant program provides The Dance Complex with a 110-person workforce who man the front desk, and clean and maintain the studios, affording the participants with valuable study in dance in exchange for their work.
Some landmarks in our history:
2014 - The Dance Complex receives two grants from The Massachusetts Cultural Council Facilities Fund (for work on Studio 7/street level studio and event space and Studio 1/Theatre)
2010 - City of Cambridge Go Green Award: Waste Reduction/Small Business
2008 - Community Newspaper Company's 1st choice silver reader's choice award regional favorite: dance/gymnastics school
2007 - Community Newspaper Company's 1st choice bronze reader's choice award regional favorite: dance/gymnastics school
2005 - Best of Boston Best Dance Studio
2003 - Community Newspaper Company's 1st choice gold reader's choice award regional favorite: dance/gymnastics school
2003 - Best of Boston Best Dance Studio
1996 - Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Nominee
1982 - Odd Fellows Hall is added to the National Register of Historical Places
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