Dancing in the streets: Gowanus block party launches new dance studio

Dancing in the streets: Gowanus block party launches new dance studio
Trey Pentecost

It’s the ’wave of the future!

A Brooklyn dance education group will throw a block party this weekend to celebrate its new home in Gowanus! Dancewave will launch its new spot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Degraw Street with a Grand Opening party on June 8 designed to introduce the group to the neighborhood, according the group’s artistic director.

“We are opening our doors to the community, and we want to be as inclusive as possible,” said Diane Jacobowitz. “We want everyone to celebrate.”

The Saturday party will last from noon until 4 p.m, and will be led by master of ceremonies Chuck Chillout, a hip-hop disc jockey with radio station WBLS. Degraw Street will be closed to traffic, and the roadway will host free classes in modern, salsa, and African dance, along with performances from the Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy and from Dancewave students.

Inside the Dancewave Center will be tours, family-friendly games, and activities, followed by a performance from several Dancewave companies at 5 p.m. Tickets for the show are just $10.

The group used a small dance studio at Fourth Avenue and Dean Street for the last 11 years, said Jacobowitz, but the new location more than triples its space. The new Dancewave Center has two large studio rooms, which can be combined into a 100-seat performance venue — a first for the organization, which previously rented other venues for its recitals.

The new space will also allow for more, larger classes, especially for adult learners. The area already offers several venues for grown-ups looking for healthy activities, including Brooklyn Boulders and a Crossfit gym, said Jacobowitz, so the dance studio will fit right it.

“It’s a heavy fitness block, so we’re going to bring more adult classes to this area,” she said. “It’s not just fitness — dancing is joy — but we’re really going to be expanding the adult programs.”

The new venue will also allow Dancewave to hold events that go beyond dance, she said.

“We want it to be more than a dance center — we want it to be a community center,” she said. “We want to open it to poetry readings, and have art shows, and all kinds of different events.”

The journey towards the new space took almost 11 years, said Jacobowitz, and required a $5.2 million campaign to renovate the former factory into a state-of-the-art studio and venue, accomplished with help from the Borough President’s Office, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and many local supporters. Raising the cash and dealing with bureaucracy required a lot of work, she said.

“It’s a story of patience, perseverance, and passion — and dealing with the city,” said the dance director. “This is a story of triumph.”

Dancewave Grand Opening street party [182 Fourth Ave. at Degraw Street in Gowanus, (718) 522–4696, www.dancewave.org). June 8; noon–4 pm. Free.

Dancewave Student and Friends Showcase: June 8 at 5 pm. $10.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Feeling blue: The new Dancewave Center will soon be used as a performance space, complete with theatrical lighting, said artistic director Diane Jacobowitz.
Trey Pentecost