The future of the Houston Ballet takes a dramatic turn this spring with the opening of the new Houston Ballet Center for Dance in downtown Houston. The $53 million, six-story building has nine dance studios, a dance laboratory that seats 200 for presentations and rehearsals, a dormitory for out-of-town students, a shoe room that can hold more than 2,000 pairs of ballet slippers and pointe shoes, a gigantic sewing room that outshines anything on Project Runway, a music library and artistic, administrative and support offices.
A skybridge links the new building to the Wortham Theater Center, where the Houston Ballet performs. The Center for Dance has spacious men's and women's dressing rooms that can accommodate 70 dancers. (The women's area has a nifty feature: A rectangular opening above each mirrored dressing space to store a practice tutu.) The company now has 54 members, but managing director Cecil C. Conner imagines a future in which the ballet will grow to fill its full complement of 70.
"It's built with the concept that this is our home forever," Conner said.
Another forward thinking notion of the new building: It is the first new downtown structure in generations to look out onto Buffalo Bayou rather than turn its back on Houston's prime waterway. Gigantic windows look out onto the bayou; on the outside, a future stairway to the bayou is planned.
Conner recently took CultureMap on a tour of the new building. Here's what we saw: