Villain or Hero? What Part Do Your Theatre and Dance Spaces Play?

The Villain: Without the right spaces, a theatre and dance program can suck the energy and passion out of students. Trudging costume carts through snow or finding right-sized rehearsal space is the last thing students need when trying to focus on their craft.

The Superhero: The new Center for Theatre and Dance at Millikin University in Decatur, IL, has created an extraordinary home that spotlights the student experience. From the minute students walk into the 60,300-square-foot space, they are encouraged to study their passion, and the Center’s amazing superpower features set the scene for all students to succeed.

But, what are the secrets to turning a villain into a hero?

Secret #1: Visibility Power

The show-stopping large dance studio on the 3rd floor was a risky space to design for performers. “It gives great visibility on campus, and people below can look up to the 3rd level to see what is happening inside. There is transparency yet privacy for performers, which continues as a theme throughout the building,” Carson Durham, Lead Project Designer for BLDD. Students can see and be seen, putting a spotlight on the once hidden program.

Secret #2: Quick-Change Spaces

Faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth, these quick-change spaces transform with built-in hidden superpowers! Mary Black, Director of the School of Theatre and Dance for Millikin University, loves the versatility. “The space holds dance classes by day and is a rehearsal space by night. It is large enough to stage musicals that are held on the 60 foot-wide proscenium stage on campus.” Students struggled to find a rehearsal space in the past, but the new dance studio provides ample room and amenities like pipes along the ceiling for running lighting and sound. There are even strong points in the ceiling to specifically hold up to 5 aerialists as they rehearse or perform.

Students can focus on their experience with moveable barres, flooring that accommodates various dance styles, and even doors that are mirrored in order to not interrupt the space. The dance studio/rehearsal room/performance venue is just one of the spaces designed to help students focus on their passion in the new Center for Theatre and Dance.

Check back as we reveal more superhero features of student-focused theatre and dance spaces!


Watch the webinar to learn secrets from our panelists about spotlighting student experience in theatre and dance spaces. Contact us today to transform your program into a showstopping experience!

Meet the Panelists

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