Spank Dance Company

Burned out

Adieu, center studio
Adieu, center studio

Another year, another downtown fire, another arts company out of a home.

Last February's blaze at the Guadalupe Arts Center, which displaced 75 visual artists, artisans, and arts organizations, got 2005 off to a dismal start for the cultural community. Sadly, 2006 is starting with a similar tragedy. The evening of January 6 saw a fire at 304 E. Fifth, the building which has for several years housed KOOP radio, various recording studios, rehearsal spaces for bands, and the dance space Center Studio. Ellen Bartel, the guiding force behind Spank Dance Company and one of the most active independent choreographers in the city, has been managing the space in that building for almost 10 years. As she said in a notice posted on the Spank Web site last weekend, "My dance career here in Austin revolved around that space, that location, that low, low, low rent, and that beautiful view of the sunset. For years I would ride my bicycle downtown and enjoy hours of peaceful creativity in my bright, airy studio. At night when most of the classes and rehearsal took place, downtown was always bustling with energy. I've built a business around that little space and I built friendships around that little space." Now, because of the fire, she's had to close that "home away from home" – and had to do it as she's been rehearsing her contributions to Dance Carousel, the showcase of 40 one-minute dances opening in the FronteraFest Long Fringe this week, and Greyhounds and Other Virtual Ways to Travel, a new dance scheduled for March in the Blue Theater. Fortunately, she's secured temporary rehearsal space at Tapestry Dance Company's studios several blocks to the west, so the dances will go on. Beyond that, she vows to "continue pursuing a 'center for contemporary dance and movement arts' here in Austin" and "to keep my community dance events going, so the Hot September Flurries and the Dance Carousel are not doomed."

Dance Carousel performs Saturday, Jan. 21, 8:15pm, Saturday, Jan. 28, noon, and Sunday, Jan. 29, 1:45pm, at the Blue Theater, 916 Springdale. For more information, visit

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Guadalupe Arts Center, KOOP Radio, Center Studio, Ellen Bartel, Spank Dance Company, Dance Carousel, FronteraFest Long Fringe, Greyhounds and Other Virtual Ways to Travel, Blue Theater, Tapestry Dance Company, Hot September Flurries

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