A chapter in New York City’s dance history came to a close last Thursday when Fazil’s Times Circle Rehearsal Studio closed its doors after 73 years. The ramshackle building in NYC’s Theater District, a longtime haven for hoofers, Broadway performers and flamenco and Middle Eastern dancers, will soon go under the wrecking ball to make way for a new condo/hotel complex—an all-too familiar scenario these days.
Its history was literally etched into the floors (widely praised by tappers as the best-sounding ones in the city) by the likes of Honi Coles, Charles Cook, Eleanor Powell, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Alvin Ailey taught there in the late 1950s; it was also where Maria Alba trained Gelsey Kirkland in flamenco. Hines immortalized the studio in his 1989 film, Tap, in which he modeled “Sonny’s” after Fazil’s Studio A-1, known as the Copasetics Room.
“It’s old and in disrepair, but it’s just the place you go,” tap teacher and performer Ray Hesselink told me a few weeks before Fazil’s shut down. “Maybe the dust bunnies are bigger than you, and you might not get toilet paper, but oh well—you can get that at home.”
It’s not clear exactly when the building is scheduled for demolition, but before it goes, co-owner Serpil Civan planned to remove Studio A-1’s storied maple floor and offer former regulars pieces as souvenirs. When the building finally does come down, Civan said she’d like to stage a farewell performance outside: “They can’t bring down this building without a great big dance-off.”