It’s been a long wait — about five years, in fact — but Ballet Arkansas officially moved into its new space in downtown Little Rock’s Creative Corridor on October 25.
“Everyone is so excited it’s really happening,” says Laura Hood Babcock, Ballet Arkansas’ artistic associate. And, the new space offers endless possibilities that will take the company into the future.
Located at 520 Main St., the 1,300-square-foot street-level rehearsal area with mirror-covered and barre-lined walls is visible to passersby. Additionally, the space also includes offices and storage rooms.
The rehearsal area is outfitted with a special floor designed for pointe shoes, which Babcock said was one of its biggest expenses. They plan to get a cover for the floor to host non-dance events.
The company’s 13 dancers held their first practice at the new space on October 25. The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and city officials held a ribbon cutting, and an open house is at 6-8 p.m.
Ballet Arkansas joins Arkansas Repertory Theatre, which opened its black box theater and annex earlier this year, on Main Street. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is planning to relocate to the block, completing the Creative Corridor.
“Most big cities have an arts complex,” Babcock says, and Ballet Arkansas plans to collaborate with the Rep and others. “We’re collaborative by nature in the arts.”
Before the move, Ballet Arkansas was headquartered at Shuffles & Ballet II in west Little Rock, where they will continue to hold rehearsals for “The Nutcracker.”
Babcock says the company will be able to work all day in the new space, which wasn’t possible before. In addition to the master classes and private dance lessons that will move to Main Street, the company is planning some new programming.
A new bag lunch and ballet series will launch November 15 and become a regular thing, Babcock says, as a way to educate and inform the public about Arkansas’ only professional ballet company. There will also be body conditioning and adult ballet classes, and the location will be available for rentals.
Babcock says the new space “helps validate us as a legitimate institution,” and she hopes it brings a new level of visibility to the company.
On Sunday, October 30, Ballet Arkansas travels to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs for a performance at 3 p.m. Tickets are available here.