Finding Ourselves in Dance
Hello to our wonderful Open Space Community,
Franco, Maeve and Charlene here and we would just like to say THANK YOU for all of your support over the past year. From the moment we launched Open Space in November 2020, we have been charging full stream ahead. After a Summer filled with demo/construction and design, we are thrilled to announce that we’ve opened:
The Station—our 2nd studio in Kenton!
Open Space: A year in Review
What a wild ride this year has been. When Covid hit in the Spring of 2020 and the world turned upside down, we began to get together to process and discuss the future of dance for ourselves and the greater Portland community. After countless gatherings on Char’s porch, our brainstorming started to feel incredibly empowering. What if we created a new dance company? A new center to encourage an open exchange of ideas? A place where children could explore the art form and feel safe and encouraged and loved? What if we built a hub in North Portland? Would anyone come? Should we build it?
Well, as you very well know—we built it and you all showed up big time! Franco and our designer extraordinaire David Nokovic, along with the help of our programs manager, Kolina Doherty, took that first leap of faith. Thanks to a successful partnership with Oregon Contemporary Center for the Arts (formerly Disjecta), and a robust Capital Campaign, we were able to build out Platform, our first dance studio. We built the sprung dance floor, painted the walls, and jumped into the realm of becoming Portland’s newest dance organization. Open Space was decided upon as our name—a place where all are welcome. A place where we leave our ego at the door. An “open space” where beauty, truth, friendship, connection, creation and movement can blossom.
Platform has been a perfect springboard for our first season of open adult classes in ballet, improvisation, contemporary jazz, and so much more. We are so excited to meet such amazing humans who consistently show up and are ready to dance. With our innovative lights, and a few strategically placed curtains, we have been able to use the space as a black box theater. In September, Franco presented our first evening-length work, Open Ended, featuring a cadre of talented local and visiting professional dancers. In addition to Franco’s uplifting and inspiring choreography, the night also featured our Artist in Residence Elijah Labay’s intimate solo, The Train That Moved Water. Part of our mission at Open Space is to provide an affordable place to cultivate dance. Each Summer we will choose an artist who can use our studio free of charge to create something to be premiered in Portland and then hopefully taken on the road. Elijah’s work will be performed in Manhattan this Fall and then continue onward. We are incredibly thankful to be given the opportunity to create and move and perform this year.
The School at Open Space
In April 2021, Maeve and Charlene launched The School at Open Space. We opened our doors to over 60 students and families who were willing to take a chance with a brand new little school (during a worldwide pandemic no less!). We had a blast teaching these talented young artists which culminated in two days of outdoor/indoor performances at Platform and the courtyard at Oregon Contemporary in June 2021.
We knew we would need another studio for the following school year to truly be able to offer a comprehensive dance education program for ages 3-19. Thanks to YOU, we were able to raise another $19k to help with the build out of The Station. Over the Summer, whilst holding many Space Camps and other classes for children and adults, we decided on a lovely space across the street within the historic Kenton Hotel. Thanks to countless community partners (and a huge learning curve on our end), we somehow had a lease, insurance, painters and a fabulous construction team to build out The Station. With David again at the design helm, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the final product! Track lights that change color. New white walls. Bay windows. A large mauve dressing room replete with lockers. A purple bathroom. A cozy blue couch. New beautiful ballet barres. A soon to be erected mural by a local artist. Were we a bit behind schedule? Of course! Our amazing families were kind and understanding as we pivoted within the first few weeks of Fall scheduling.
Now that we can officially announce the opening of The Station, we are happy to report that we have 126 students in our school. We are providing $29k this year in tuition assistance, which is allowing 17% of our student base with needed financial support. We have 10 teachers on our faculty teaching ballet, contemporary, hip hop and choreography. We have formed a Young Artists Performance Company comprised of our upper level students. With three dedicated rehearsals each week, they will be working on repertory to be performed throughout our school year.
Come and Dance with Us
We have a lot in store this year! We are offering many options for open adult classes in the mornings and evenings. Franco will be presenting three performance series at Platform this Season: Winter + Spring + Summer. In collaboration with Oregon Contemporary, the Young Artists will be participating in monthly “First Saturday” events within the gallery. In addition, keep an eye out for our Sunday Brunches and Friday Night Dance Parties!
12/17: Youth Company Holiday Show @Platform
12/18 + 12/19: Franco Nieto’s Winter @Platform
Fund Live Art campaign kickoff supporting Open Space’s Performance Series
12/27-12/30 Winter Space Camp for dancers aged 15+
2/14: The School at Open Space’s second semester begins
School “Tech Check”: Students will prepare a set class to be evaluated by a panel of teachers—feedback will be shared with families to facilitate growth and acknowledgement
Auditions held for Summer Space Camp intensives, dates TBA
Fund Art Education campaign kickoff for student scholarships
6/17: Student performances @Platform and Oregon Contemporary’s Courtyard
6/18 + 6/19: Franco Nieto’s Spring @Platform
Summer 2022-dates TBA
Space Camp I for dancers aged 10-14
Space Camp II for dancers aged 15-22
Space Camp III for dancers aged 17+
Ongoing Little Artists classes for children aged 3-9
Summer Artist in Residence
Franco Nieto’s Summer @Platform
Franco, Maeve and Charlene