Imagine a collection of grand rooms bursting with neon colors, upbeat music, graffiti on the walls, with creativity wafting in the air. You may think you need to go to a big urban center to spend time in a space like this, but there is a place in New Hampshire that has all that and more. Welcome to The Block Collaborative.
The Block Collaborative, located at 2800 Lafayette Road in Portsmouth, immediately inspires you in the second you arrive outside their door. No joke – there is literally a hand-written message on the door, challenging you to be open to opportunity.
In fact, messages of inspiration and sassiness are hidden all over the place at the Block Collaborative, adding to the playful and engaging environment. Is that any surprise with a mission like this:
The mission is to help express one’s unconditional love in a style of art to help unite and grow the community. Classes of many different kinds of art, mainly dance will be provided. Currently, recruiting students who have the love, and create a safe space for students to express and learn their favorite style of art such as dance.”
This space was created by Anthony and Brenda Bounphakhom, siblings who are geared up about growing a community with unconditional love and creative passion.
I recently met and chatted with Anthony, who is a hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor. His energy matched the environment of the space he has created; energetic, joyful, and fun. He and Brenda worked hard to make The Block Collaborative a space that ignites people when they come in:
You walk in [to the space] and the whole point is to have it look abnormal and unorthodox, and get people creatively going. This is my mission now, to unlock the box and get people to be free and accept themselves as artists and to be inspired by other things.”
Whoa Oh, It’s Magic
This space is innovative, inviting, and exudes creativity. There are three large, creative spaces, primarily used for dance at this time, though other art forms will be occurring eventually. Then there is the lobby itself, which feels more like an artist’s living room rather than a lobby.
At the time of my visit, they had twinkle lights hanging from the ceiling in a semicircle, with a stool positioned in the center. Adorning the string of lights are polaroids that people took in the center of the lights, fastness with clothes pins. It was quite magical. Here is a snap of Sarah Wrightsman and I enjoying this installation. What is extra cool is the fact that the owners plan to continue to change up the installations in the space, collaborating with other makers even, reinventing and keeping it exciting for the instructors, patrons, and students.
What’s Been Going On
Currently there are a bunch of programs at The Block Collaborative, for adults and youths, that sound like a blast. Creative Movement, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Breaking, Ballet, Tumbling, and Improv are some examples of what’s on their calendar right now. Check out their programs and calendar here.
The space is also available for studio rental, and can be used as a large meeting space (key for social distancing), has a superb sound system and light customization, lots of comfortable and formal seating options, and exercise equipment if needed.
And whether you are in the space for a class, an event, or just to hang out, they are doing all that they can to keep folks safe during the pandemic. Here are their Covid-19 policies.
Lose Yourself to Dance
I can’t wait to go back to the Block Collaborative. The space is interactive, evolving, and remarkably vibrant. Now more than ever, we need to experience joyful moments and it’s places like the Block Collaborative that help you do just that.