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Arts Lifestyle Reader Contributed

Ballet Theatre Company Continues to Entertain Through Digital Season

Melodies Pas de Trois - Kirsten Evans, Brenna Difrancesco, and Calvin Bittner performing in BTC's 2019 20th Anniversary Performance of Melodies. Photo by Tracy Dorman

Ballet Theatre Company has found a way to continue its mission, despite having to cancel live spring performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theater – BTC Season Dancer Fernanda Yamaguchi stands center stage during rehearsal for BTC’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Jeff Teitler

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For the past two weeks, Ballet Theatre Company (BTC), West Hartford’s premier ballet company, has offered a free online Digital Season to continue its mission of bringing the performing arts to life while abiding by stay-at-home orders and social distancing. The company released the below statement on their website with the heading “Until Our Theaters Open” with hope for a glorious return to the theater:

“Due to the unfortunate events and unforeseen future, BTC will offer a Digital Performance Season to replace its cancelled spring performances. The digital season will include a diverse grouping of older and newer works of the company’s repertoire.”

On Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m., BTC commenced its Digital Season on Facebook with its 2015 performance of Apres Degas. This comedic, Degas-inspired ballet was choreographed by Marguerite de Anguera of the Connecticut Valley Regional Ballet and reconstructed and restaged by BTC’s co-founder and executive director Tracy Dorman.

The Digital Season continued on Friday, May 22, with the premiere of the company’s 2019 20th Anniversary performance of Melodies set to a suite of five romantic pieces by composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. The timeless ballet, choreographed by Ms. de Anguera, was premiered and performed in 2002 by BTC as a tribute to her legacy in the Hartford area. It also marked a significant step in BTC’s growth as a professional ballet company. The full ballet is still available for viewing for a limited time.

On May 29, BTC presented Voices of Spring choreographed by Tracy Dorman in 1999 on the then newly established Ballet Theatre Company. The piece, described by Ms. Dorman as “light, airy, and dance-y”, is set to a Strauss waltz consisting of four dancers in colorful romantic tutus that bring the music to life. Friday evening’s Facebook premiere will include exclusive interview footage with Ms. Dorman about her inspiration, choreographic process, and staging challenges when constructing and restaging the piece over the years.

Pinpointe – BTC’s decorated pointe shoe pinning A.C. Petersen’s ice cream cow location. Courtesy photo

Along with premiere viewings of the company’s repertoire, BTC’s Digital Season also includes Pinpointes, a newly created play on words scavenger hunt that includes photos of a decorated pointe shoe in landmark places around the West Hartford community. Members of the community are invited to guess where each photo was taken by commenting on social media platforms and tuning in each week to learn historic information about pinned locations.

Newly announced this week is a blog-like page titled Outside the Rosin Box, which offers a creative look into the artistic endeavors that BTC professionals and students have explored during this time at home. From creating art on paper and canvases to experimenting in the kitchen, these creative and active minds have found other avenues to pursue while they take a step away from daily studio life. BTC’s first featured artist is Season Dancer Fernanda Yamaguchi who has occupied her extra time at home with drawing intricate mandalas and playing with her new kitten named Sushi.

BTC plans to continue its Digital Season for as long as its studio doors remain closed. The performing arts existed before, it exists now, and it will continue to exist returning stronger than ever when this pandemic concludes. Learn more about BTC’s Digital Season including upcoming premieres, new Pinpointe locations, and new artistic endeavors on BTC’s Digital Season website page.

In conjunction with its Digital Season, BTC has taken the web by storm with the continuation of its Keep Dancing At Home Guide offering weekly activities for the community. From #MovementMonday, to #FunFriday, and everything in between, the guide has kept community students active and inspired. BTC students have also been participating in weekly Zoom classes continuing their ballet training in their living rooms and creative at-home studio spaces.

BTC student, Miranda G. practices her stretches as a part of BTC’s Keep Dancing At Home #StretchSaturday. Over the past several weeks, she has worked to get her toes to touch the floor! Courtesy photo

While creativity may have ceased inside studio walls, it hasn’t ceased among local artists. BTC is determined to get through this crisis and is taking creative measures while looking ahead with bright eyes to the 2020-2021 season. Consider making a donation today to help keep the performing arts and dance alive in our community. Your support now will ensure that this organization will be able to produce and present great work after this health crisis is over.

BTC is supported in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, Cricket Press, and Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

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