Look up the home base of the Atlantic City Ballet, and you'll find the dance troupe resides far from its namesake city.
But with a growing arts presence in the resort and the willingness of the state to aid in relocation costs, it appears the ballet may soon have a permanent residence in historic Boardwalk Hall.
Atlantic City's ballet, with its 24 dancers from around the world, has been based in Galloway Township since 1999. Practice time has been split between the mainland studio and Boardwalk Hall for about five years. While the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall provides a much larger practice space than the Galloway studio, it can't be used year-round due to heating issues.
Now, however, the ballet is working with the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to permanently relocate to Boardwalk Hall, with converted dance studios, administrative offices and storage space all located in the historic building.
Ballet founder and director Phyllis Papa said relocating to Atlantic City will hopefully increase the troupe's visibility and make more people aware that Atlantic City has a professional ballet company.
Originally called the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theater, the company changed its name to the Atlantic City Ballet in 2006 in hopes of gaining more visibility. Still, costs had been too high to move into the city until now, Papa said.
"We are the Atlantic City Ballet, and we should be in Atlantic City," Papa said. "This is the best thing we could hope for aside from our own performing arts center."
The CRDA last month took steps toward approving the move. A resolution for the project states that the authority is considering providing financial assistance to the ballet for the move, but no dollar amounts are disclosed. Both Papa and CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler declined to say how much assistance might come from the authority.
Papa, however, noted that creating professional studio space within Boardwalk Hall is by far the most significant expense, as the dancers require barres, mirrors and special flooring that can cost as much as $40,000. A space above the Adrian Phillips Ballroom can be converted to the studio, and the ballet would then lease the space from the CRDA for a negotiated price, Papa said.
The company performs about 35 times throughout the year and tours from New York to Georgia. Locally, performances are held at Atlantic City casinos, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Dante Hall Theater for the Arts in Atlantic City, though Dante Hall is too small for most of the ballet's repertoire, Papa said.
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