With the unveiling of the design for the new Dance Place building on Tuesday, it's clear Brookland just keeps upping its creative cred. In tandem with the development of the Monroe Street Market apartments and the Arts Walk along 8th Street NE is a gorgeous makeover of the old brick, blue-awning Dance Place structure—a fixture of the community that has been home to hundreds of local and international dance troops since 1986.
The cornerstone of the new building will be a sculptural light and sound tower designed by renowned artist Christopher Janney entitled "Touch My Building: Dance Place." Passersby are supposed to interact with the installation's four soundbanks, which play 12 different sound samples and create a light show triggered by a series of sensors.
The combinations of melodic and environmental sounds (indigenous to D.C.) will be determined by the time of day, so the piece can never sound the same way twice. You might get a bamboo flute or a marimba of birds—up to you! It's meant especially for children, who instead of being told "don't touch" are encouraged to tap into the senses of touch, sound and light. Janney composed a riddle, too; if a person can play the trigger "hands" in the proper order, the piece will answer with a "dance of sound."
Janney is pretty famous, by the way. His designs include Harmonic Convergence at the Miami International Airport, Rainbow Cove at Boston's Logan Airport, and Sonic Forest installations at huge musical festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella. Trained as an architect and jazz musician, Janney is passionate about urban development as well as interactive public art.
"My interest here is to create a unique artwork that speaks both to the bold vision of Dance Place within this community and the greater Washington, D.C. area," Janney says. "This is a building of creative energy, a place to express yourself, a place open to all who wish to participate."