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Connecticut Dance Alliance’s Inaugural ‘National Dance Day’ Planned for Blue Back Square

Evjen Academy of Performing Arts. Photo courtesy of Evjen Academy of Performing Arts

Connecticut Dance Alliance will present the state’s first National Dance Day, a free outdoor community event that includes live performances, workshops and demonstrations, in Blue Back Square in West Hartford this September.

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Connecticut Dance Alliance (CDA) will present the state’s first National Dance Day on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Webster Walk, located at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, CT.

The free outdoor community event will celebrate the joy of dance and showcase the diversity of dance in Connecticut while also encouraging fun and healthy body movement and creative expression.

The event will feature live performances and workshops from Connecticut dance studios, companies, and independent performing artists; dance literature book presentations by Connecticut authors; a Dance-Me-a-Story demonstration for young children; and a gently-used/new dancewear fundraiser. “Connecticut Dances – A Visual History,” a touring exhibition presented by CDA and the Connecticut Historical Society, will also be on display.

“National Dance Day has been celebrated across the country by cities and states over the past decade and has branched out to over 46 locations across the United States,” said Brianne M. Dwyer, CDA vice president and event coordinator. “Connecticut needs to be represented in this nationwide celebration, as well. There is no better organization than CDA to spread public awareness of dance in all its forms and showcase our vibrant dance community to the state of Connecticut, specifically during this time of hardship and resilience for our performing artists.”

The rain date for National Dance Day is Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. The event will follow all current Connecticut COVID-19 mandates for outdoor public events. For more information on National Dance Day, visit https://www.ctdanceall.org/ .

Participants include:

Dimensional Dance

Dimensional Dance. Photo credit: Elisa Wharton Photography.

Dimensional Dance was established in 2011 by Director Ruth Vesenka Lewis to inspire and educate through and about dance. The company is comprised of 10 dancers with a wide variety of dance backgrounds, from classical to contemporary. Their newest program, Ballet to Breakdancing, includes elements of ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and contemporary.

The END Ensemble

The END Ensemble. Photo Credit: Ray Shaw

The END Ensemble is a project-based contemporary dance company in Hartford. Founded in 2017 by Artistic Director Erica Nelson, the END Ensemble prides itself on collaboration across all arts forms with the goal of strengthening the arts community throughout the Greater Hartford area. Visual artists, composers, writers and live musicians are regularly commissioned and featured alongside new dance works that not only contribute to but also challenge the dance canon.

New England Ballet Theatre

New England Ballet Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Rachael Gnatowski and Emily Orzada co-founded New England Ballet Theatre (NEBT) in January 2020 to bring high-quality dance performances to communities throughout New England. NEBT is a not-for-profit organization focusing on the development of new choreography and the production of new ballets, while giving choreographers the opportunity to have artistic freedom in their creative process. Based in Hartford, NEBT is working to expand its base and programs throughout New England.

Evjen Academy of Performing Arts

Evjen Academy of Performing Arts. Photo courtesy of Evjen Academy of Performing Arts

Founded by Diane M. Evjen, Evjen Academy of Performing Arts opened its doors in January 2006. Dancers are taught that success is not found in or bound by perfection, rather success is taking goals and following through with determination, perseverance and sweat. Evjen Academy of Performing Arts is proud to promote an environment of self-respect, genuine care for the world, and kindness overflowing as they nurture their dancers’ talents and techniques to better themselves and give back to the community.

Baila Con Gusto

Baila Con Gusto. Photo Credit: Jaymee Du Plessis

Baila Con Gusto CT seeks to share and enrich the experience of all people who enjoy dancing. Founder Jason Ramos and Amanda Duvall put great value in developing rich cultural, social and artistic bridges that stretch beyond the classroom and into their broader communities. Understanding that not all people have the access, resources or knowledge to participate in dance, Baila Con Gusto CT provides professional dance entertainment and education services at affordable prices throughout Connecticut and New York City.

GUSTO Dance

GUSTO Dance. Photo courtesy of GUSTO Dance

GUSTO Dance cultivates dance as an expression of joy, beauty, and humor, and as a vehicle for connection and empowerment. Collaboration is their heartbeat; offering engaging, inspiring dance is their main goal.

The Hartford Dance Collective

The Hartford Dance Collective. Photo Credit: Kristen McNevins

The Hartford Dance Collective, founded in July 2017, is located in the heart of Parkville, Hartford. The Collective aims to empower women to have a voice and an equal opportunity in dance by providing choreographic and leadership opportunities. By sharing professional contemporary dance with new audiences and providing performances in diverse locations, the Hartford Dance Collective works to bridge the gap between the arts and its community.

CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts

CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts is an arts-focused magnet high school serving Hartford and its suburbs. CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts offers full and half-day programs for students from the capitol region and beyond with focused training in the arts.

CT Tap Collaborative (CTC)

The CTC is a safe space developed for personal growth and creativity as a dancer and musician. The CTC works to fully embody the joy of dance as they express themselves through the authentic rhythm of their hearts and souls. With a multitude of performance opportunities, CTC company members showcase the range of tap dance choreography throughout history while increasing their own creative abilities through improvisation and collaborative work.

Leslie Frye Maietta

Leslie Frye Maietta. Photo Credit: Joshua Sugiyama

In a 21st century dance climate where artist equals entrepreneur, embracing, encouraging and practicing versatility and diversity is radical and essential. Embodying this in dance and life has contributed to Leslie Frye Maietta’s successful career in concert and commercial dance spaces on an international to local scale. Leslie’s current creative work has been presented from Berlin to Boston, and her performing and teaching experience continues to be equally as distinct. Leslie’s eclectic and rich training/performance/research in techniques and forms encompassing Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary Dance, Improvisation, Hip Hop, Hoofing, Theatre and Gaga Movement Language take root in her creative work and teaching.

Ballet Hartford

Ballet Hartford. Photo Credit: Ian Christmann

Founder Elizabeth “Betsy” McMillian established the company as Vivid Ballet in Hartford in August 2016 with the purpose of promoting the true, the good and the beautiful. Having developed national and international recognition, and more than doubling its roster of dancers, the company re-branded as Ballet Hartford – establishing its affiliate school, School of Ballet Hartford, in August 2018. The company has professionally partnered with The University of Hartford’s The Hartt School Dance Division and shares a thriving exchange of resources and ideas. By producing programs that incorporate historical, classical ballet and new, artistically diverse choreographic works, Ballet Hartford provides its audiences with performances that uphold tradition and celebrate innovation.

Additional performers and workshop facilitators include Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Glastonbury, Karrington Trice, Point to Perfection Dance Studio, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, Toriography Dance Company, and ATTAK Dance Company. The event will also highlight CDA’s collaboration with Para Dance by Fred Astaire Dance Studios in West Hartford.

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