There’s something new in The Shipyards District, and it’s got more than enough room for everyone. The SPACE House of Performing Arts and Movement, or The SPACE for short, is the latest neighbourhood addition from Miranda Widgery-Webber and the team at Perform Art Studios. A unique melding of dance and movement studio, community cultural space, and retail shop, The SPACE boasts over 5,000 square feet of floor upon which to host amazing dance classes for all ages, all bodies, and all experience levels. We chatted with Miranda about her new business expansion, and about how it’s sure to inspire this vibrant local community.
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Located on the second floor of the Lonsdale Quay Market, The SPACE is an ambitious expansion that’s been in the works for quite some time. Miranda has over 20 years of experience running Perform Art Studios, her first dance studio in The Shipyards District, which still has a home at The SPACE, and continues to offer professional calibre dance classes for kids and teens specifically. When she first opened up shop in Lower Lonsdale, however, there wasn’t nearly as much happening as there is today: “I knew there was a vision for development here,” Miranda says, and “we wanted to be right in the thick of it.” As a professionally trained dancer herself, Miranda not only spent years honing her own craft in Canada and the UK, but she also did her teacher training at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, before going on to teach in both Hong Kong and the United States as well. She refers to those years abroad as “a fantastic experience” that “broadened my horizons about what the dance community could be in larger cities.”
Miranda felt particularly inspired by what she calls “the culture of having a central space that brings a community of dance and movement together… in LA, they have Millenium Dance Complex, in London they have Pineapple Studios, and in New York, there’s Broadway Dance Center,” but while downtown Vancouver has The Dance Centre, there wasn’t really anything in the North Shore that gave the “feeling of walking into a centre for everyone who loves dance and movement.” Years later, Miranda has created just such a place– one where people from all walks of life are welcomed and encouraged to explore all styles of dance, enjoy movement, and expand the horizons of what’s possible within their own bodies.
“One of the big things I’ve done with this space,” Miranda says, “is invest in large picture windows overlooking the water and ships.” While she hopes they’ll provide artistic inspiration for her students, they’re also a stunning feature of this new expansion that seems to pay homage to the maritime history of the neighbourhood itself. Her buildout of The SPACE also includes consistent adult dance and movement class offerings, an athletic wear shop in the reception area, and a partner element that provides brick-and-mortar opportunities for everything from Chinese Dance and Burlesque classes to Persian cardio! It “brings an amazing dynamic,” she says, and it’s one that embodies what North Van is: multicultural.” Soon, they’ll also be “developing one of the studios into a black box theatre for smaller in-house performances,” and as an event rental space for things like birthdays and weddings. Miranda also sees the new larger space as an opportunity to offer “accessible dance and movement classes for those with physical and neurological disabilities,” only further serving her dream of building a hub for dance and movement with opportunities for everyone.
Here in The Shipyards District, we’re fortunate to have world-class art museums and galleries like The Polygon Gallery, MONOVA, and The Inuit Gallery. With The SPACE, Miranda hopes to help build upon that local tradition of artistry by filling a need for more performing arts in the area. She loves to see how much the neighbourhood has grown during the years that she and her husband have called it home, and believes a creative community space will only deepen the rich and diverse culture here. When asked about some of her personal favourite shops and restaurants nearby, she calls out Meat at O’Neills for sandwiches, and admits she may be biased towards The Welcome Parlour for ice cream since her husband also owns the shop. We couldn’t be happier to announce that The SPACE officially opens its full-time doors at the end of this year (they’re currently open for limited offerings while they put the finishing touches on the expansion). After all, regular dance and movement practice has proven health and happiness benefits like stress reduction, increased bone density, memory retention, improved feelings of connection and self-esteem, and even injury prevention. How’s that for a little motivational inspiration?
Be sure to stop upstairs at The Lonsdale Quay Market, and check out The SPACE’s gorgeous new home. You can also follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on their latest progress and find out about classes as they roll out. To learn more about the other wonderful businesses in The Shipyards District, where shopping local is a year-round affair, visit our directory.