By: Hedy Weiss
With its announcement Monday of the establishment of the $2.5 million American Rhythm Center (ARC) at Chicago’s Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), under the leadership of Lane Alexander, is accomplishing at least two important things. First, it is helping to reignite the role of the historic Fine Arts Building as a center of downtown cultural activity. Second, it is adding substance to the growing initiatives designed to make Chicago a mecca of dance, with an informal “dance corridor” stretching from the Joffrey Ballet studios at State and Randolph, to ARC, and south to the Dance Center of Columbia College. The Americn Rhythm Center is a collaborative effort designed to provide a shared, affordable and sustainable space for rehearsals, educational programs and administrative offices for several leading Chicago arts organizations including CHRP, River North Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, the Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts, the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and Ping Pong Productions (which facilitates collaborations between Chinese and international artists). In the project’s initial phase, three professional, flexible-use dance studios ranging in size from 750 to 1,500 square feet (formerly used by the Boitsov Ballet) will be modernized, along with a lobby and dressing rooms, and a separate floor of administrative offices will be established. Coming in the second and third phases will be the addition of program space, a black box theater and updated office facilities. The hope is that revenue will be generated from tuition-based educational programs offered by many of the participating groups at a time when funding from government and other sources is increasingly difficult to secure.