Berkshire Dance Theatre raising money for move into Adams mill space
ADAMS -- A dance troupe is holding a wine tasting and auction fundraiser Friday night to help realize its goal of renovating and moving into a new studio.
Proceeds will go toward Berkshire Dance Theatre's plan to relocate to the former Waverly Fabrics location at 5 Hoosac St. in Adams.
The fundraiser is from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Orchards, 222 Adams Road, Williamstown. Tickets are $30 per person ($50 per couple) and may be purchased at the door or by calling (413) 743-4645.
Berkshire Dance's event will feature wines from around the world, cheeses and meats, and silent auction items ranging from a week's vacation in Burgundy, France, to tickets to the Boston Bruins and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
"It's probably one of the lowest priced wine tastings I've seen in the area," said Michelle Francesconi, executive director of Berkshire Dance Theatre.
Last occupied by a Waverly outlet, the location at 5 Hoosac St. is in a mill space that was originally the home of the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Co.
Berkshire Dance Theatre's plan to move into the space were approved by the town's Zoning Board of Appeals in April.
Francesconi said the former mill is perfectly suited for a dance studio. The dance company is a 31-year-old, 330-student nonprofit, which also owns locations on School and Maple streets in Adams and in Bennington, Vt.
According to its plans, Berkshire Dance will maintain ownership of its three existing properties and become a tenant at the old mill.
"The building already has huge pieces of what our needs are," Francesconi said.
Planned improvements include moving a handicapped-accessible entrance to the rear of the building, replacing the heating system, putting in a bathroom and installing new lighting, as well as readying four 1,000-square-foot, wood-floored studio spaces, some office space and a public lobby.
Westall Architects of Williamstown have assessed the building but have yet to produce cost estimates. Francesconi said the theatre company plans to name studio spaces in honor of large donors.
Tonight's fundraiser, she said, could be the first of many.
Dance instructor Lynn Melchiori said the group has taken off since Francesconi took over the executive director position last September. Melchiori just helped the group launch its new website -- berkshiredancetheatre.net -- this summer.
"We're happy and excited," Melchiori said.
Building owner Jared Bayliss called Berkshire Dance Theatre's move "the first step in beginning to integrate a few different business ideas into the building."
He said he'd like to see a health food cafe share the first floor with Berkshire Dance Theatre and a fitness center open on the third floor.
"There is a sort of theme starting to come together through the different ventures we're looking into here," Bayliss said. "Sort of a health-minded center for the town."
Francesconi and Bayliss said the building is in great shape and fully equipped with a sprinkler system -- one big concern for modern developers.
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