Edinburgh’s Grassmarket might be more famous for its public hangings and carousing students, but with the Opening of the lavish new DANCE BASE, that’s all set to change. The List puts on its ballet shoes and steps inside our new National Centre for Dance. Words: Kelly Apter Pictures: Mikael Hallgren

‘When you go .In, somehow it already feels like ou’re a r dancer’ » Clalre Pencak

18 YHE LIST 4-18 Oct 2001

The Dance Professional

Claire Pencak first sampled what Dance Base had to offer back in 1995, when she was Dance Artist in Residence for Aberdeen’s City Moves. But she became a regular face at the Assembly Rooms when she moved to Edinburgh three years ago to form Tabula Rasa Dance Company. Since then, she's both taught and taken contemporary classes while Tabula Rasa have been the company in residence on several occasions.

The new Dance Base professional programme features masterclasses with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Richard Alston and X-Factor. But for Pencak, the most exciting development is day-long rehearsing, facilitated by the three extra studios. ‘In the past when you were in residence at Dance Base. you shared the rehearsal space with the classes coming in during the day.‘ she explains. ‘So some days you couldn't get in until lunchtime; or you would start in the morning and then have to stop and come back. Rehearsals were much more disrupted and it was harder to get a pace going; everything took more time because you had to keep warming up.’

Now that 's all in the past, Pencak and the rest of Edinburgh’s professional dance community can concentrate on maximising their creativity. ‘The architect's done a fantastic job,’ Pencak says. 'When you go in, somehow it already feels like you're a better dancer or choreographer; or at least have the real potential to be.‘