Without Further Adieu, the New PVAC… Almost

After three years of construction, the new Performing and Visual Arts Center was unveiled for the Dance Department’s fall concert, appropriately titled Breaking Boundaries.


Sharisse Cohee, Editor-in-Chief

Since construction began December 2017, the enormous land-mass north of Parking Lot 1 – the one that has impeded pathways and disrupted parking, and is constantly flooded with jack-hammering – is now site to a transformed Performing and Visual Arts Center (PVAC). The complex will hold a plethora of amenities, including an impressive performance theater able to seat 390 patrons, as well as house the new Hyde Gallery.

While this massive,38,680-square-foot structure was originally slated for completion earlier this semester, unfavorable weather conditions and the discovery of unforeseen underground material contributed to the postponement, which is now marked for spring 2020.

I love this new facility. It’s still being developed but, like the lighting when you see it coming from Grossmont College going into the lot, you’re like, ‘What is this magical building?’ It’s just so radiant and it’s so there.

— Rainer Martinez

When one possesses the passion of a dancer though, there is no missing your mark, and no matter rain, shine,
Bobcat bulldozers or cranes, the show must go on. That, and the fact that the Dance Department’s fall November concert series, Breaking Boundaries, had already been booked in the new PVAC when slated completion was previously set for this semester. The Dance Department’s home away from home had been the Ray and Joan Kroc Center in La Mesa for the last eight years, and while the Kroc Center played hospitable to the department, there were still fees involved when renting the establishment.

Photo by Sharisse Cohee
The lobby of the almost-ready Performing and Visual Arts Center
during opening night of Breaking Boundaries.

Unfortunately, when it became more and more evident that construction was behind deadline for the concert’s opening night, it was already too late to attempt to book the Kroc Center. Instead of taking a bow, members of the Dance Department did what they know how to do best: Just dance.

And dance they did, on the new Marley-floored stage, as the PVAC held a soft-opening Nov. 14-16, featuring four dance performances in the almost-ready theater. The department broke boundaries figuratively, by way of dance, and literally, by being the first to breakdown the blue construction fence and perform in the new facility.

“I love this new facility. It’s still being developed but, like the lighting when you see it coming from Grossmont College going into the lot, you’re like, ‘What is this magical building?’ It’s just so radiant and it’s so there,” Rainer Martinez, former Grossmont student and Dance major said. Martinez currently studies dance at SDSU and was in attendance for the sold-out opening night of Breaking Boundaries. “The Dance Department is here at Grossmont College and were doing really big things and especially with this new facility, you’re just going to
see dance everywhere,” he said.

The in-and-out fading of pink, purple and blue pastel lights illuminated throughout the lobby and roof of the two-story complex and were pleasantly visible through the glass paneled walls surrounding the perimeter of the structure. The pattern of lights matched identically to those that shine from the tall tower of Griffin Gate, which those of us whom have taken night classes might recognize, creating a sense of cohesiveness throughout
the campus.

Photo by Sharisse Cohee
Sneak peek of the location the new Hyde Gallery will call home.

During the soft-opening, construction-tape surrounded the west-side of the lobby where the new Hyde Gallery will be located. The performance theater, situated on the first story of the complex, was still in the process of construction, as 228 out of the 390 seats were available for patrons to use. The upperlevel and side-balcony seating were not yet available, but the balcony venues appeared as if the seats there will offer quite an intimate and breathtaking view of the grand stage.

Heriberto Vasquez, outreach coordinator for Grossmont, was in attendance for opening night. He commented about the facility after the performance: “It was great, I was in there for an hour and a half and it felt like I was chilling at my house. It was really amazing,” Vasquez said. “The building is incredible, it’s actually very spacious and the seats are very comfortable. The show itself was amazing.”

While the seating remained spacious for most audience members, after the performance there was mention from various patrons that the theater became a bit “stuffy,” and many were seen fanning their faces with programs. This perhaps can be attributed to the lack of a completed air-conditioning system.

The dancers shared the same sentiment regarding the spaciousness of the grand stage. “Compared to the facility we
were at before, the backstage is so much more efficient and easier to do the background changes,” dancer Serena Tate said after performing on opening night. “Because we would have to go behind a curtain and we were worried about touching the curtain, but now we can just run and book it so that way we can make it in time for our other parts.”

Tate’s fellow dancer Fabi Garcia shared her enthusiasm for the new space. “The stage is definitely bigger and the audience is a lot closer, but then there’s still a big level that we’re like looking down to the audience, but it’s a lot closer so it feels more intimate when they’re responding.”

She continued: “It feels a lot more rewarding. And the space is really beautiful, so it’s really nice to be the first
performance here.”

Both dancers shared their relief in no longer having to commute to the Kroc Center for performances. The soft-opening proved to be a success as the Nov. 14 Thursday night performance of Breaking Boundaries played host to a soldout crowd of 228 patrons. The following performances shared in the glory as the Nov. 15 Friday night show brought in 149 audience members The final Nov. 16 performances displayed a Saturday matinée with 121 in attendance followed by a show that very same night, housing 135.

Photo by Sharisse Cohee
The ticket booth and concession stand; still in progress.

After the concert series, Dance Department Chair Kathy Meyer explained the process of being a part of opening a new facility. Meyer said in an email: “There were a number of challenges that we faced in terms of the stage floor completion, the installation of the Marley floor for the first time, installation of the lights and audio for the concert in time to meet the tech rehearsals.”
She continued: “But, the bottom line is that we all pulled together to make the concerts and well as our High School
Dance Day a success. We are grateful that all went well without any major issues, but are looking forward to when the PVAC is completely finished to allow for the use of the ticket booth, concessions, upper balcony and elevator to be fully functioning for our dancers and our patrons.”