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Dance Base

(National Centre for Dance)

Dance Base below Edinburgh Castle
©2019 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dance Base below Edinburgh Castle

Located on the north side of the Grassmarket, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Dance Base is Scotland's National Centre for Dance. The centre was opened on 21st September, 2001 by its Patrons, HRH Prince Charles and Prince William of Wales, representing the first official public engagement of the young Prince in Scotland. Its artistic patron is Mark Morris, a New York choreographer. Dance Base represents the largest dance space available for public use anywhere in the UK.

Malcolm Fraser Architects have installed a modern building behind an existing traditional facade which makes use of the different levels offered by the site. The steep south-facing slope is hemmed in by adjoining tenements and the project integrating a new building at the top of the site with original buildings recast for their new purpose. Support facilities are dug into the slope with dance studios above. Roof lights, glass walls and large windows flood the four dance studios with natural light and the castle provides inspiration. The building was a runner-up for the prestigious architectural award the Stirling Prize in 2002, and gained a Civic Trust Award and Scottish Design Award in the same year. The centre was built with £5.4 million from the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund, augmented by Edinburgh City Council, Scottish and Newcastle Plc and the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust.

Dance Base aims to promote dance in Edinburgh and the Lothians and provide a focus for dance professionals throughout Scotland. It offers a year-round programme of classes and performances for dancers of all levels and anticipate around 200,000 participants. The centre intends to involve itself in outreach work with youth and play groups.

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