Interlochen Opens Dance Center in Northern Michigan

Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen (southwest of Traverse City) has opened its new Dance Center, a 25,905-square-foot lakeside facility.
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Interlochen Dance Center
Interlochen Arts Academy has opened its new Dance Center. // Photo courtesy of Interlochen Arts Academy

Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen (southwest of Traverse City) has opened its new Dance Center, a 25,905-square-foot lakeside facility.

Overlooking Green Lake and incorporating technology to support teaching and virtual master classes, the center combines Interlochen’s Hildegarde Lewis Dance Building with a 16,280-square-foot addition designed by Boston’s Flansburgh Architects.

“Our expanded Dance Center’s state-of-the-art studios and stunning views will inspire generations of dancers,” says Trey Devey, president of Interlochen Center for the Arts. “The new facility will strengthen Interlochen’s position as a destination for young dancers around the world.”

Interlochen Arts Academy is an arts boarding high school that also offers Interlochen Arts Camp over the summer. Young dancers from around the world pursue pre-professional dance training at Interlochen and are taught by resident faculty and guest teachers, stagers, and choreographers in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and other styles.

Dance students perform four fully staged dance productions each year, many of which feature live musical accompaniment from the academy’s music division. Recent productions have toured Michigan and appeared on Detroit Public Television.

The center’s four new studios are outfitted with sprung-wood floors, Marley flooring, air conditioning, professional lighting grids, state-of-the-art sound systems, and large-screen televisions for virtual guest artists. Professionally designed ballet barres match the standard of those used by top dance companies. The three upper-level studios have 16-foot ceiling heights, while the lower-level studio is 11 feet tall.

“The vaulted ceilings will allow everyone to jump as high as they like and will also allow students to learn and rehearse dynamic partnering techniques,” says Joseph Morrissey, director of dance. “The openness of the studios enables us to conduct large-scale corps de ballet work while ensuring repertoire is rehearsed in a space comparable to our theater and touring venues.”

Eight-foot windows encircle each studio, allowing invited visitors to watch rehearsals without disrupting class. Guests can also see into all four studios from the buildings’ main lobby.

The facility has nooks for socializing and studying as well as a lakeside deck for casual gatherings and formal events.

Construction began on the center in August 2019. With the addition complete, the project moves to its second phase: a renovation of the Hildegard Lewis Dance Building, which was constructed in 1950. The renovation will bring new windows and air-conditioning to the main studio, as well as new first-floor restrooms.

The lower level will be transformed into offices, faculty locker rooms, a sewing and costume area, student dressing room, and a convertible space that can be used as a junior studio during camp and a student fitness and training room during the academy year.

A new elevator will make the building fully ADA compliant. The fully renovated center is expected to be ready for use this summer, in time for the 94th season of Interlochen Arts Camp.

The completion of the center will bring Interlochen one step away from realizing an ambitious campus master plan developed more than 30 years ago. The plan called for state-of-the-art facilities for each of Interlochen’s art disciplines – music, theater, visual arts, interdisciplinary arts, creative writing, film and new media, and dance – as well as an additional residence hall.

The scheduled fall opening of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow House, a convertible residence hall with guest artist suites, will mark the plan’s successful completion.

“This campus-wide transformation – three decades and over $83 million in private philanthropy in the making – would not have been possible without the donors who have generously and repeatedly invested in making Interlochen the destination for young artists,” says John Bogley, vice president of philanthropy.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the formal dedication of the Dance Center is scheduled for late summer.

Interlochen was founded in 1928.

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