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Kingswood Oxford Hosts Choreographer Showcase

Lili St. Amand. Kingswood Oxford Choreographer Showcase. Photo credit: Greg Scranton

Kingswood Oxford hosted ‘Poetry in Motion’ on the West Hartford campus.

Students perform in the Kingswood Oxford Choreographer Showcase. Photo credit: Greg Scranton

Submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School 

Last year’s Kingswood Oxford’s award-winning Choreographer Showcase was performed in an empty Roberts Theater, but this year the school’s dancers captivated a live audience with their athleticism and dynamism, and storytelling, in an hour-long show on Nov. 19.

The Wyverns workshopped with five local choreographers in hip hop, contemporary, ballet for a tour de force, bringing one pillar of the school’s Strategic Vision of local community partnerships to fruition.

Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds, the mastermind behind the showcase said, “Local partnerships are important to KO and important to arts in general. Theater and dance are by far the most collaborative of all art forms. I have found that collaboration, partnerships, and authentic relationships have been the key to survival in the theater industry.”

Over the course of the fall, Kingswood Oxford students practiced their technique and dance pieces with exceptional local talent.

Lili St. Amand, a hip-hop dancer from West Hartford, has participated in Breakdancing Shakespeare at Hartford Stage and was the assistant choreographer for the theater’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream.” Her latest accomplishment was receiving the Jumpstart award this past March through the Connecticut Dance Alliance.

Kingswood Oxford Choreographer Showcase. Photo credit: Greg Scranton

Choreographer Meghan McDermott of Immix Dance is a contemporary dance company centered around collaborating with local artists to create new work and performance opportunities.

Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Rachael Gnatowskiis is co-artistic director of the New England Ballet Theater Company, which was founded in January 2020 and serves the greater Hartford region. She has also danced professionally with Ballet Hartford and other notable companies.

Making his Broadway debut in “The Music Man” at the Winter Garden Theater this December, Ronnie Bowman acquired his great skills through his studies at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and The Hartt School.

A native of Hartford, Savana Jones has studied jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, and social dancing. She is currently a company member of “Dimensional Dance,” and a performer in the production of “Night Fall” since 2016.

Savana Jones and Chantal Jones. Kingswood Oxford Choreographer Showcase. Photo credit: Greg Scranton

The nine numbers in the showcase, each one unique and stunning in their own right, were performed by either the students themselves, the choreographer and/or local dance company, or a combination of both. Running the gamut from formal to contemporary, the show opened with “Have I Mentioned Today,” a lovely romantic ballet piece about young love with two KO dancers that was choreographed by KO’s Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds.

Shifting gears, this exquisite piece was followed by the quirky, jerky robotic hip hop “Groove with Me” performed by Lili St. Amand.

Working with Immix Dance Partnership, the students danced to the music of Patsy Cline, and the troupe itself also performed to a melody of Cline’s hits. Savana Jones and accompanying dancer Chantal Jones delivered a powerful dance, “Mo’ Wiser” full of strong emotions highlighted with dramatic red chiaroscuro lighting effect which enhanced the dance’s impact. The audience particularly relished the upbeat performance “Alone,” punctuated with freestyle movements, locking and popping, and fluid style boogaloo.

“Gray Scale,” moody and modern, saw eight KO dancers fluidly move across the stage” while “Autumn,” choreographed by Rachael Gnatoski, was ballet at its finest with magnificent glissades, arabesques, and ciseaux.

Lastly, “The Power of Human Connection” with the accompanying music “Rise Up” was a dance of renewal, especially after the experience of lockdown.

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