History of Connecticut Dance Alliance
In 1999, under the auspices of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the state's dance community joined together in a series of think-tank sessions to examine the needs of our community. The result was the creation of the CONNECTICUT DANCE ALLIANCE, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization incorporated for the purpose of organizing and strengthening the Connecticut dance community, building audiences and increasing the awareness and presence of dance in our state.
From the outset, our premise was that if we engage in dialogue and share our strengths and heartfelt commitments to this most energetic and dynamic of art forms, it will continue to grow and flourish. Through a state-wide membership the combined energy and activism of the participating dancers, instructors, choreographers and directors serves to reinvigorate and strengthen awareness and support for dance throughout the state.
Our Board of Directors has always comprised the leadership of Connecticut's major companies, dance academies, college dance departments, dance presenters, non-professional troupes, and independent teachers and choreographers. Our current President is Jill Henderson of The Hartt School Dance Division, University of Hartford. For the complete list of current Board members please look at the Board page on this site.
In addition to the building the state-wide membership base for the organization, the Alliance Board originally identified the holding of a statewide festival for all interested professional and non-professional groups as a major priority for the 2000-2001 year. In October 2000, with the help of a $10,000 Strategic Initiatives Grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the Alliance held the first such gathering in Connecticut's dance history. Entitled “Connecticut Dance Alive!”, the festival was co-sponsored by Connecticut College and Garde Arts Center in New London. Over 35 dance companies, schools, and independent choreographers were showcased along with master classes and panel discussions open to members of the dance field and the general public. At the same event, vendors and presenters from around New England participated in a Dance Mart to publicize their programs and products relevant to the dance community. An opening dinner featured guest speakers John Ostrout, Executive Director of the Commission on Culture and Tourism and Samuel Miller, Executive Director of New England Foundation for the Arts.
The success of the Festival and the organization's membership drive led to the holding of a second statewide festival in April 2003 at the Bushnell's Belding Theatre and the Theatre of the Performing Arts at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. In addition to numerous master classes, workshops, and showcase performances, the Festival featured a commissioned work by eight choreographers, Geographical Preludes, set to original music by Connecticut composer, Neely Bruce. Lifetime achievement awards were presented to Ernestine Stodelle, Martha Myers, and Jennifer Tipton for their pioneering work in dance both in-state and nationally. Chris Arnott, Managing Editor of New Haven Advocate, had this to say about the event:
"Technically, this was a superior festival event. CDA proved a lot, from believing such a widespread event could happen to actually making it happen and having an audience there to prove it happened. All this networking and gawking among dance companies can only help further the diversity of themes and styles but, as we were shown over and over for hours, there's already enough variety and talent in current Connecticut dance to sustain days, weeks, months, years of more CDA festivals."
In subsequent annual events Distinguished Achievement Awards have been presented to Mariam McGlone, June Kennedy, Enid Lynn(2001); Pilobolus, Betsy Mahaffey, and Lee Lund(2003); Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and Pamela Tatge, CFA Director(2005); Sharon Dante, Nutmeg Conservatory of the Arts and Judy Dworin, Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble(2006); Susan Matheke, Educational Center for the Arts and Kim Stroud, Greater Hartford Academy of the Performing Arts, plus a special achievement award to Walter Schalk, Walter Schalk School of Dance in celebration of his school's 50th year of operation(2007); Cheryl Smith, Artists Collective, Hartford, and Noble Barker, New Haven Ballet(2008): Catherine Fellows, Central Connecticut State University, Kathy Borteck Gersten, Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble and Trinity College, and Olivia Davis, Spectrum Dance Theater Ensemble and “Stretch for Life”, Hartford (2009).
Subsequent to the establishment of the organization, a statewide publication entitled Dance Alive!, was created to inform all members of our community and the general public of important events and issues and serve as a clearinghouse for resources and job openings. This has been replaced by an electronic newsletter “Newslinks” (established in 2008) which publishes members’ news but goes to a wide on-line audience.
Our organizational website (www.ctdanceall.com) now routinely lists the dance community’s dance events and includes web links to relevant dance organizations, presenters, service groups and news of upcoming CDA events.
During the 10 years of our existence, a great many events and networking meetings have been presented and certain events have become firm annual favorites. They are the annual Martin Luther King Day of Dance - a day celebrating the African American dance tradition: the Educators’ Forum, a day workshop exploring differing issues of dance pedagogy; and the CDA Awards event including a reception and showcase performance.
© Copyright 2012, Connecticut Dance Alliance, Inc.