Staying on Their Toes

The College’s physical planners are currently scrambling to find a new home for student dancers before the clock runs out in June 2005 on their lease of the Rieman Center for Performing Arts from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

The search has been complicated by the very specific technical requirements for a safe and comfortable dance space and by the dearth of usable FAS-owned spots in the Square.

Incoming Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 says he has identified Rieman’s replacement as one of his highest priorities.

But despite the general consensus that a new space must be found, College officials and arts administrators seem to lack a sense of how to accomplish this goal.

Gross told The Crimson last month that he hoped Radcliffe would grant the College grace time if it does not fully replace Rieman in time.


Though Radcliffe Institute Dean Drew Gilpin Faust declines to comment on whether Radcliffe would grant an extension on the dancers’ lease, she says she was amused that Gross had tried to negotiate with her through the pages of The Crimson.

She says she teased Gross about it when she ran into him recently.

“I wish FAS would come back to us and say this is what they want,” she said. “The question has not come up. When it does, we’ll consider that in a very specific way.”

A number of buildings throughout Cambridge have been floated as possibilities in confidential memos and meetings behind closed doors.

But as of now, administrators say only one Harvard-owned building remains a likely candidate: the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Facility (QRAC).

College administrators are also in preliminary talks with millionaire Cambridge philanthropist and Kennedy School of Government graduate Gregory C. Carr, who says he would like to offer undergraduate dancers a home in the theater complex he plans to build on a vacant parking lot at Zero Arrow St.

To arrive at a final decision, the planners—chiefly Associate Dean of Administrative Planning Leah R. McIntosh, who liases between University Hall and the Office for the Arts (OFA), and Associate Dean of Physical Resources and Planning David Zewinski—will have to deal with finding a suitable location, ensuring that the new space is not smaller than Rieman and jockeying with other constituencies over the limited spaces available.

Finding a spot near the center of campus is key, according to OFA Dance Program Director Elizabeth W. Bergmann. She says she’s wary of the safety issues in pushing a program that rehearses late at night—especially with its high proportion of female participants—to a faraway location. Also, because dance classes are often squeezed in between students’ other commitments, minimizing transportation time is a priority for Bergmann.

These factors rule out constructing a new space in Allston. OFA administrators say they have also nixed proposals to use University-owned space in Watertown.

The complicated technical standards for dance floors—like spring-board flooring and high ceilings—have also ruled a host of other buildings in and around the Square.