Dance Complex in Cambridge plans a street-level expansion

The Dance Complex in Cambridge, one of Greater Boston’s most active dance centers for more than two decades, is expanding, announced Peter DiMuro, the organization’s new executive director. The nonprofit, which owns Odd Fellows Hall at 536 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, plans to create a new flexible-use space in a storefront area on the ground floor of the building, giving the organization an unprecedented visibility and direct street-level access.

Serving more than 1,200 students and professionals each week, the Dance Complex currently offers classes, performances, and rehearsal spaces in its theater and six studios spread over four upper floors.

Over the next few months, the organization is soliciting ideas from a handful of area architects on how to transform the 24-foot-by-86-foot storefront currently rented to Hubba Hubba into a 20-foot-by-35-foot dance studio plus a flexible-use space that could include a kitchen/coffee shop or small related business, DiMuro said in an interview on Monday.

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DiMuro and the board of directors also plan to solicit input from the community and announce a new campaign to raise funds for the project. In addition to losing the roughly $4,500 monthly rental income, the organization faces costs of initial deconstruction and renovation that are expected to be $40,000-$50,000, DiMuro said. “We’re looking to have the studio up and running by next May,” he added.

DiMuro, who became executive director in July, explained that the expansion is part of a new vision for the Dance Complex driven in part by a reassessment of its finances, as well as a need for more dance space, especially given the probable June closing of the busy nearby Green Street Studios, which is looking to relocate.

In addition to increasing its physical footprint, the Dance Complex is expanding programming, with some offerings evolving from projects started by founder Rozann Kraus. Initiatives include a master-class series; Sunday salons of music, dance, and poetry; a “Learn and Dance Party!” series; and a “Winter Wonder Dance Festival.” A mentored choreography project called “aMaSSiT” (“A Make It/Share It/Show It” lab) fosters new works by emerging artists, and “I-ARE: The Integrated Artists Residency Exchange Program” initiates its first year with creative investigations on the subject of memory, led by Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp and Crystal Nillson.