For the first time ever, Kokoro Dance will soon have its own performance and rehearsal space, thanks to the City of Vancouver, which awarded the nonprofit the rental late last year. The bonus? It’ll be in the Woodward’s building, a floor below Kokoro’s offices.
With the dance company’s soon-to-be-renovated space nestled in the first-floor unit once occupied by W2 Media Cafe, some serious upgrades and alterations are in order, but Kokoro executive director Jay Hirabayashi and artistic director Barbara Bourget are excited about what they’re hoping will be a late-spring opening.
“The city is going to take out the concrete stairs for us and expand the offices above, so we’ll have more room for the studio,” said Hirabayashi as he gave the Straight a tour of Kokoro’s recently acquired rental space.
Bourget said she’s looking forward to adding track lighting and sprung floors to the area, which is visible from the building’s courtyard and is directly across from London Drugs. She’s also excited at the opportunity for open-air performances, as the future dance studio’s glass walls are on a track system and can be opened to the courtyard, creating space for larger audiences.
While the above-ground area offers plenty of daylight, the real treat is the basement. Hidden in the underbelly of the Woodward’s building, the massive space rounds out Kokoro’s total square footage to a whopping 5,600. While W2 Media Cafe often hosted after-hours raves, human rights forums, media arts events, and festivals there, Kokoro has something completely different in mind. The space will be remodelled to accommodate an additional mixed-use performance/rehearsal/production space, as well as a recording studio, dressing room, and kitchen.
“Like upstairs, we’re going to add in a sprung dance floor. It’s quite large, and there’s going to be a state-of-the-art lighting grid across the top,” Bourget said. “It’s nice because it will be a new space for the performing arts in the city. There are so many arts groups on the Downtown Eastside, but there are so few spaces for us all.”
Kokoro will share the facility with subtenants Vancouver Moving Theatre, Raven Spirit Dance Society, and the Vancouver International Dance Festival.
Click through the images at the top of this story for a closer look.