The Colorado Ballet has completed a long-awaited move into its new home at 1075 Santa Fe, on the north end of Denver’s Santa Fe Art District. The move from the ballet’s former home of 20 years to the expansive new facility brings to life artistic director Gil Boggs’ vision for the largest resident dance company in the state. The new space will also help to establish a center for dance in the state.
“When I think about my original vision for our new space, and what we are now surrounded by, I’m thrilled to say that this is exactly what I envisioned for Colorado Ballet,” said Boggs. “We all feel a strong responsibility to further the art form, and this new space will help us truly accomplish that. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that whenever a professional company owned their own building, they flourished—not only locally but nationally as well.
“We want Colorado Ballet to be in the national spotlight, and our new building will finally allow us to fulfill that dream,” Boggs added. “At the core though, the needs of the dancers, artistic staff and academy were the driving force behind the design and amenities of this space.”
The architect for the new building was Denver’s Semple Brown Design and it was built by CMC Group.
In the fall of 2012, when Boggs turned to architect Rusty Brown, Semple Brown Design’s co-founder, and Chris Wineman, the firm’s performing arts specialist, to convert a former warehouse into a modern studio for Colorado’s premier ballet company, he asked for more than the six studios he had available in the leased space at Lincoln and 13th. He also wanted more than the minimum of two studios with floor space that would span the depth and breadth of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House stage. That way, the company’s dancers could transfer their ballets from rehearsal to stage without adaptation or adjustment.
Today, their new space is comprised of eight studios—two the size of the Ellie stage—as well as improved amenities for the company, including locker rooms and showers, a physical therapy and massage room to encourage wellness and prevent injuries and a shared staff and dancer lounge to foster greater interaction between them. The location also offers safer student drop-off and increased parking in the neighborhood for academy families.
A black box performance space was also on Boggs’s wish list, one that could be used as a studio yet be converted to a community performance space for more intimate shows. The new Black Box Theater will enable Colorado Ballet to add in-house productions to its repertoire, foster up-and-coming choreographers—both within the company and outside—and allow choreographers to practice their craft and present works to audiences.
Additionally, the increase in the number of academy studios, their prominent location and visibility also demonstrate how education continues to be a priority for Boggs. “It is the future,” he said.
Up to seven dedicated studios will increase and diversify the academy’s programming. Students will have opportunities to perform in the Black Box Theater for First Fridays and other occasions. A new pre-professional program will also be launched this fall, where high school students travel to Denver to train, including an academic component. Company rehearsals and academy classes have already begun for the fall season.
Ultimately, Colorado Ballet’s new location represents a literal physical move, as well as a philosophical shift to a new place—one that’s more deeply embedded in the community and more accessible to all.
Semple Brown designed the building with an abundance of glass and open views to allow the ballet to reach outward into the neighborhood rather than keep its art and activities within.
Brown and Wineman also embraced their client’s awareness of changing demographics and how cultural institutions can be intrinsically tied to the community. To this end, the new building is located outside the downtown core in a highly diverse arts and cultural district, reflecting the role Colorado Ballet will play as the organization moves into the future and becomes increasingly accessible to younger and more diverse audiences.
The building’s approachable scale also allows the organization to better support their mission to educate the next generation of students through their academy programs and outreach. And finally, the building helps infuse greater morale within the company by establishing an elegant new home while emphasizing Colorado Ballet’s contribution to the state and beyond.
“A first-class space means something—it supports a more substantial vision of what the future can be,” Wineman said.