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‘Dimensional Dance’ Bridges Ballet and Hip Hop Cultures

Laurance Corbett. Submitted photo

‘Dimensional Dance’ will showcase interactive performance at the Theatre of Performing Arts on Nov. 17.

Megan Klamert. Submitted photo (credit: David Aimone)

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Dimensional Dance, based in Greater Hartford and with many West Hartford participants, will bridge ballet and hip hop cultures with their interactive program “Ballet to Breakdancing.” 

The program showcases multiple genres of dance on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hartford.

The performance will feature five innovative pieces that include original choreography, the premiere of a new piece, and a collaboration of ballet and breakdancing by stand-out professionals as well as a dance battle between a breakdancer and a high-octane ballet dancer.

Gennaro Della Ragione. Submitted photo

Dimensional Dance is known locally for its vibrant and exhilarating performances, showcasing professional dancers from a variety of dance backgrounds including breakdancing, contemporary, jazz, and ballet. The company includes 12 dancers living in Connecticut with a wide variety of dance backgrounds, from classical to contemporary.

The company’s November performance will feature breakdancer Savage Henry, choreography by four women in the company and an interactive portion where the audience is invited to dance.

Dimensional Dance was established in 2011 by director Ruth Lewis to inspire and educate through and about dance. The company is committed to artistically educational and creative content through a variety of dance genres, and visits schools throughout the state performing and meeting with students.  Programs discuss the history of varying styles of dance and the stories of historical figures brought to life through dance.

The Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 359 Washington St., Hartford, CT. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or at the box office, 860-757-6388.

“I love what I do. I work with people who are dedicated to their craft,” said Lewis. She describes members of the company as “amazing artists and athletes,” and stresses that in developing choreography she provides opportunities for featured dancers to “do what feels right for them. The dancers are artists, not automatons. We have a framework, but I let them express themselves.”

The main piece featured in the program will be “Fierce Like Frida,” which bridges hip hop and ballet cultures. This piece is a collaboration between ballet dancer Matisse Madden, as Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, and breakdancer Savage Henry, as her husband and fellow painter Diego Rivera. They worked together to create the various complicated partnered lifts and turns but still have a chance to show off their individual skills. “He stands on his hands quite a bit while I stand on my toes,” added choreographer Madden.

Pam Glauber. Submitted photo

Another dance that will be showcased is a contemporary piece titled “O Squared.” Choreographed by director Ruth Lewis, the piece took more than five years to create. The project started in the spring in 2014 when what eventually became the last movement was commissioned by Miss Porter’s School. This will be the first time all five sections of the piece will be performed at one time.

There will be three additional dances included in the performance:

  • One Art – The premiere of One Art, choreographed by Dimensional Dancer Elisa Wharton and inspired by the iconic poem by Elizabeth Bishop will take place on Nov. 17. It relays a sense of loss; first of small items and then larger more meaningful things, such as the loss of family and friends. The final sections of the piece were commissioned by The Ethel Walker School and features five women.
  • Legacy of Fosse is a high energy jazz piece with choreography inspired by dance legend Bob Fosse. Choreographed by company member Allison Pearsall and set to a medley of iconic jazz songs, this audience favorite will have you clapping along to this piece with dynamic dancing and theatrical flair.
  • Prudence Crandall Duet – The duet shows the tangled relationship of Prudence Crandall and her controlling husband. Prudence Crandall is the Connecticut social justice pioneer who was one of the first woman in the nation to teach women of color higher education. The duet shows the struggle for freedom Prudence had. She did eventually leave her husband. The Prudence Crandall Center, the oldest domestic violence program in Connecticut, is named for her.

The Nov. 17 performance will also feature and amazing dance battle between breakdancer Savage Henry and Australian born ballet dancer Laurance Corbett, who comes to Dimensional Dance courtesy of Sonia Plumb Dance Company. Award winning B-boy Savage Henry will also explain the elements of hip hop and demonstrate some awesome breakdance moves.

Lewis exudes admiration for the dedication and talent of company members, noting, “The women dancers in Dimensional Dance are incredibly disciplined artists. Your body is your instrument. We have four dancers in the company who have given birth to children and have worked so hard to get themselves back into ‘dancers shape’ for performances.”

Dimensional Dance will finish their season next spring performing their new story ballet “Prudence Crandall: A Whole Souled Woman as told through the eyes of Prudence Crandall and her first student Sarah Harris. The project is funded with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For more information about Dimensional Dance, visit www.dimensionaldance.com 

Members of the Dimensional Dance company include:

  • Laurance Corbett of West Hartford is a ballet dancer. He is originally from Australia.
  • Gennaro Della Ragione of West Hartford is a contemporary dancer. He is originally from Naples, Italy. He is here courtesy of Sonia Plumb Dance.
  • Pam Glauber of West Hartford is a ballet dancer and teacher, and a children’s book editor. She is also a mother of 2 children.
  • Savana Jones of Hartford is a jazz dancer and teacher.
  • Megan Klamert of West Hartford is a ballet dancer and teacher.
  • Matisse Madden of Granby is ballet dancer. She teaches at Mount Holyoke College as a ‘visiting artist.’ Ms. Madden is the choreographer of Fierce Like Frida and has been in the company since 2012. She is also a mother of two children.
  • Katelin Maxwell of Plainville is a contemporary dancer as well as an engineer; and has her own business.
  • Jasmine McPherson of Bloomfield is a jazz dancer and teacher.
  • Henry Olivo of Manchester is a breakdancer and teacher.
  • Allison Pearsall of East Lyme is a contemporary dancer and teacher. She led Miss Porter’s dance department; Ms. Pearsall is the choreographer of Legacy of Fosse, a jazz piece. She is a mother of two children.
  • Taylor Smooke of Woodbridge is a ballet dancer and teacher.
  • Elisa Wharton of Plainville is a ballet dancer, teacher, and choreographer of One Art, a contemporary ballet piece premiering on Nov. 17. She is also a mother of one son.
  • T!ger of Bristol is an awarding winning breakdancer and dance teacher. He made the top 40 in So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD).

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