Insider’s View: Studio Theater

  • The pool over which the Studio Theater was constructed, circa 1950s.

Used as a classroom, rehearsal space, and performance venue, the Studio Theater in Kendall Hall is the dance department’s most sacred space, according to department chair Rose Flachs. One of three studios in the building, it is the only room exclusively designated for use by the dance department.

First constructed in 1984 over the College’s original pool when the facility was updated, the space’s history can be seen in the original tile in the entryway and the stadium seating that once overlooked the pool deck. There is even a preserved nook where canoes were stored before the Canoe House was constructed on nearby Upper Lake.

When the building was updated again in 2008 with a new fitness center, the Studio Theater received much-needed improvements. The most significant physical change, says Flachs, was the addition of tiered seating, taking the place of folding chairs placed on unwieldy platforms for audiences during performances. With the addition of these 200 seats the room offers the performer and audience members a professional theater experience. Student choreographers now have a flexible, multi-media workspace that also offers them the valuable perspective of viewing their work in a theater setting.

Other updates included the addition of modern lighting, projection abilities, more wing space, and backstage access to the other nearby dance studios, where dancers can warm up and rehearse before performances. A fifty-foot skylight is a unique feature that can bring natural light to the space or be closed to transform the room into a black box theater.

A laboratory for dance students to plan, create, experiment, rehearse, and collaborate, the Studio Theater is used each year by more than 700 students representing the Five College department. Thousands more enjoy the space as audience members attending the department’s premier performances, including the College’s Faculty Dance Concert, held in the fall, and spring concerts featuring student work.  

—By Jennifer Grow ’94

This article appeared in the spring 2015 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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