Dance Complex in Cambridge is reopening its doors July 15 for people to take on-site movement classes together for the first time since March, and executive director Peter DiMuro is dancing with joy. “It’s about being in a room with people with the same human intention,” DiMuro says. “We’ve become so warped in these Zoom rooms, dancing in these little boxes. It’s an important step for people.”
At the same time, he adds, it will be a challenge. The dance institution will follow health precautions according to state and city guidelines (masks throughout the building, 6-foot distancing, limits on class sizes according to the size of the room, regular sanitizing, etc.). New protocols will include one-way paths in and out of the building, expanded ventilation, and a paperless registration/check-in system to monitor class size, track who is in the building, and avoid physical contact.
In addition to hosting classes, Dance Complex studios are available for rehearsal rental during non-class hours. “It’s popular for people who need to be in a room bigger than their kitchen and move around a little,” DiMuro says.
The Dance Complex has invested in two new cameras to record and livestreamclasses, but intends to hold roughly 30 percent of its usual schedule of classes in the building, as Phase 3 begins. “Many of the teachers say they don’t care how small their classes might be, they just need to be teaching and they need it to be in person,” says DiMuro. “It’s really heartwarming. They will take a loss, and we are taking a loss. Our overhead is more than we’ll bring in, but we felt it was important to get people moving together.”
By Aug. 1, DiMuro hopes to start making decisions about fall schedules. “I think the goal is about 50 percent [of our classes] by Sept. 1,” he says.
The Dance Complex also is working with the city of Cambridge and the Central Square Business Improvement District, as well as other arts organizations, on Starlight Square, an outdoor performance amphitheater located in the parking lot behind H Mart in Central Square. “This will provide us with space to offer outdoor classes and performances,” DiMuro says, adding that current plans include sponsoring several dance concerts that were canceled at the complex in the spring due to the pandemic.
The Dance Complex is not the only dance studio opening up during Phase 3. Some smaller organizations, like Brighton’s Mass Motion, Brookline’s Triveni School of Dance, and the Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center in Somerville, may hold limited in-person classes to complement virtual offerings. Many may be geared toward students already affiliated with their studio, such as Mason’s four-week summer program launching on July 20. “We’re planning a fall schedule that will be more open to the public,” she says. “I have to keep the place going. It’s important for the community.”
“This is a very difficult transition period for all of us,” says Movement Arts Gloucester director Sarah Slifer Swift, reflecting on teaching her first studio dance class this week after reopening the center. “We can do this transition together — intelligently, respectfully, and with the joy and power of movement.”
Karen Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.