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Center for the Arts announces Ballet West dance center and Capitol Theatre facelift

Published: Thursday, May 30 2013 6:55 p.m. MDT

Rendering of the Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance in Salt Lake City.

HKS

SALT LAKE CITY — "Perfection is something you should always, always strive for. There's always something that can be done better, executed cleaner."

Spoken by principal artist Christiana Bennett, 32, during an episode of "Breaking Pointe," a reality show about Ballet West, this phrase reflects the dancers' relentless pursuit for excellence.

They practice and perform at the Capitol Theatre, the "Grande Dame of performing arts venues within Salt Lake County," according to a news release from the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts. It's a venue fit for dancers aimed at perfection.

To ensure its continued excellence, the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts has partnered with Ballet West on a $32 million project to spruce up the facilities at the Capitol Theatre and create the Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance adjacent to the theater.

Salt Lake County purchased the land for the dance center for $2.4 million and is expected to put $8 million toward the Capitol Theatre renovations and programming at the dance center, said Cami Munk, communications manager for the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts.

Ballet West has committed $10.5 million to build the new dance center. Donations for the dance center also have come from the S.J. and Jessie Quinney, George and Dolores Dore' Eccles and Emma Eccles Jones foundations, Munk said.

Ballet West is one of several performing companies that uses the Capitol Theatre's facilities.

Improvements to the Capitol Theatre include doubling the number of restrooms, updating the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, raising the stage by 4 inches to improve audience visibility, reupholstering and padding the fixed seats in the auditorium, improving orchestra pit acoustics and expanding the lobby area, Munk said.

The new dance center will house administration offices and technical support areas for Ballet West and five dance studios, according to a Center for the Arts news release.

In 2006, Ballet West began working with the Center for the Arts to create this reality.

"It's something we really need. We need the studio space," said John Roake, director of marketing for Ballet West.

Ballet West's school is currently "bursting at the seams," he said. Dancers practice in 1 ½ studios in the theater. Comparable companies use six to 10 studio practice spaces.

Ballet West did not receive any money for its participation in "Breaking Pointe," Roake said, but the company gained national exposure. This attention benefits the art form as a whole, he said, by bringing attention to it. The second season of the reality show will begin airing July 22.

The new studio space will also benefit Salt Lake City, Roake said, because parents who come with their children for workshops will be patronizing shops, restaurants and hotels.

The Capitol Theatre renovations and creation of the dance studio are part of an effort to maintain high-quality performing venues in the city, said Michelle Schmidt, deputy communications director in the Salt Lake County Mayor's Office.

"Capitol Theater is this great historical jewel in downtown Salt Lake City," Schmidt said.

Work on the improvements are scheduled to run from the end of June through November, and the Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance is set to be built between July 2013 and September 2014.

Summer performances by JazzSLC, Ballet West and Utah Opera are scheduled at venues in Salt Lake City.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

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