File this one under lowbrow living meets highbrow art.
The Brooklyn Ballet last week partnered with Common Ground, an affordable housing group, in making Downtown Brooklyn’s Schermerhorn House their new home.
The 11−story glass building at 160 Schermerhorn Street includes 211 studio apartments, half of which are for formerly homeless persons and the other half for low−income actors, painters, musicians and artists of every stripe.
The building site was donated and built by developers Abby Hamlen and Francis Greenberger as part of a deal where they built 14 new $2 million townhouses adjacent to the site.
Common Ground is a non−profit organization that has converted old hotels in the Times Square area to facilities for low−income artists and the formerly homeless.
“With Brooklyn as one of America’s cultural capitals, we are thrilled to make our new home in such a dynamic and supportive arts community,” said Lynn Parkerson, Brooklyn Ballet’s founding artistic director.
The ballet received $80,000 toward the space from Markowitz’s office including $45,000 in FY08 and $35,000 in FY09.
Under the lease agreement, the Brooklyn ballet will utilize the ground−floor space for rehearsals and classes, as well as offices.
The company will also have use of the building’s 199−seat Black Box theater, also on the ground floor.
According to Matthew Brookshire, the building’s activities manager, the theater will also serve the tenants for holiday meals and a spot to hold classes and other community functions.
The theater will also be available for public use as an affordable rehearsal and performance space, Brookshire said.
Currently the building, which is still undergoing construction, is at about 60 percent occupancy.
Parkerson founded the Brooklyn Ballet in 2002 after several years as an internationally acclaimed performer, choreographer, educator and presenter.
A classically trained dancer, she apprenticed with the Boston Ballet and performed with the Chicago Ballet and as a contemporary performer in Europe before moving to New York.
Besides having a dance troupe, the Brooklyn Ballet does outreach to local schools and has developed a unique outreach program called Elevate, which performs in public spaces throughout the borough.
Thus far the ballet has performed in the park behind Borough Hall, Marine Park and beneath the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO.
When asked what made her start the Brooklyn Ballet, Parkerson, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, noted that there are several outstanding dance troupes in Brooklyn, but saw a niche.
“There was no ballet company here,” she said.