FALMOUTH (AP) – The Maine State Ballet company wants to convert a brick warehouse into a spacious performance facility with state-of-the-art dance floors and space for an audience of 200.

The ballet company will go before the Falmouth Planning Board on Tuesday to discuss plans to renovate a 2.2-acre site on Route 1. The company hopes to complete the relocation from its current home in Westbrook by next fall.

Many of the ballet’s core supporters live in Falmouth and nearby towns, and the ballet’s executive director Steven Williams said he doesn’t anticipate any roadblocks when the ballet company meets with the planning board.

“We haven’t met anyone yet who thought this was going to be a detriment for the town,” Williams said.

The ballet company has about 40 dancers and 500 students from as far away as Biddeford. It had leased the former Forest Street School building in Westbook, which it has now outgrown, Williams said.

Williams said the company, which has operated for 23 years without any debt, will begin a $3 million capital campaign to pay for the new home and start an endowment fund for long-term financial stability.

The renovated building will include nine dance studios with hardwood floors above built-in cushioning. The floors are designed to prevent injuries.

The Maine State Ballet’s major performances take place at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. The new performance space with 200 retractable seats could be used for ballets that draw smaller crowds, Williams said.

AP-ES-06-30-04 0915EDT



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