The announcement was both ambiguous and blunt: "A sudden, negative turn of events has been brought about by the selfish ambitions of one of our own... one of our teachers, ambitious to get his own studio no matter what hurt is done to others, went behind the back of Dance on Capitol Hill and persuaded the owners to put us out and let him come in." A summons followed, to a community meeting at the dance studio the following Tuesday and Wednesday, August 29 and 30.

On Tuesday evening, David Sparenberg, DoCH's administrative director and the author of the above announcement, paced as concerned students and teachers trickled into the underground performance space on 15th Avenue. The meeting got off with a spark when Anthony Manuel, the teacher referred to above and the artistic director of Fusion Dance Company, strode in and started addressing the crowd with his side of the story. Though Manuel was persuaded to take a seat and wait his turn to speak, the animosity between the two men constantly threatened to overwhelm the discussion.

The story goes thus: Sparenberg, in an attempt to resolve the increasing debt of DoCH, had approached Manuel about buying DoCH out. There is confusion about exactly what Sparenberg thought he was selling or Manuel understood he would be buying. While a nonprofit corporation cannot be sold, it can sell its assets, including its name. However, DoCH does not hold a lease on the space it occupies (which includes offices and two studios with mirrors and dance floors); Sparenberg seemed to be under the impression that a sale of the assets could be linked to a transfer of tenancy, and introduced Manuel and Fusion to the landlords, Irwin and Betty Lou Treiger. But from the Treigers' point of view, they had a tenant who had been consistently delinquent on the rent for the past year and who introduced them to a new potential tenant, with whom they struck an agreement. When Fusion realized it could take over the space without assuming the debts of DoCH (which amount to around $30,000), it stopped its negotiations with Sparenberg.

Furthermore, DoCH's finances are murky. Sparenberg repeatedly referred to using his own credit cards to cover paychecks to teachers as an indication of his sacrifice and commitment to the organization. Though Sparenberg's intentions may have been good, this could also be seen as evidence of his unsound business judgment and the ineffectuality of his board, which allowed him to mix his personal finances with the organization's. Sparenberg also waved an unpaid heating bill, implying that he had supported the organization at his own expense while maintaining that DoCH did not owe him money.

But--either out of sympathy or pragmatism--few people present wanted to pursue the question of mismanagement. The space had changed hands legally, and Sparenberg's actions were now moot. The meeting came to a pleasantly forward-thinking consensus: If Manuel and Sparenberg's bile can be set aside, the teachers of DoCH (and the dance community as a whole) would like to find a way to create a smooth transition between DoCH and Fusion and find a graceful way to dissolve DoCH as a corporation. Presumably, more strategic meetings will follow, as well as a more rigorous examination of DoCH's financial circumstances. BRET FETZER