Last weekend, October 1 and 2 while the Cardinals where moving ever closer to continuing their magic run, I was in Connecticut where the Connecticut Dance Alliance was honoring me for services rendered to the dance world, specifically the 20 years I spent developing the Hartford Ballet. It turned out to be a beautiful and emotional affair.
The day before, Stephen Piers, director of the Hartt School of Music Dance Department had invited me to teach and speak to his students. It was nice to see that not all was lost. Some 20 years removed from Hartford and the School and the Company no longer in existence it was a revelation to note the imprint we had left behind and his desire to make sure they built from it. It was touching and I was grateful for that.
The class was specially interesting because as I delivered my “wisdom” to this new generation, seated behind me where a dozen of our former dancers smiling, beaming and chuckling as the class went on. Some gifted students were present and specially a young girl of which a little bit more later. The Dean came to welcome us and Mort and Irma who had contributed a large sum to create the center, where there as well. It was heartwarming
Class over, hugs over, smiles over I left with my host to visit the Mark Twain house in which after 20 years in Hartford I had never been in. Very interesting as he and I developed thoughts for a production of “The Nutcracker” that could appeal to St. Louis and Hartford utlizing Mark Twain as the main character.
On Sunday we left for Old Saybrook where the ceremony was to be held. It was to take place at The Kate, a theatre established by the legacy of Katherine Hepburn. We went early and drove by her old house and I marvel again at the beauty of the Connecticut shore and the calm placidity of its rolling hills.
Arriving at “The Kate’ I was taken aback by the number of people. I thought their would be a handful but I guess we had close to 200. Old dancers, new dancers, would come around to thank us for the work done that permitted them to continue pursuing their goals. I do think that with the Harford Ballet no longer, it will be more difficult for everyone.
First our awards were handled and Judith Gosnell, the first dancer I hired and who became an incredible performer, introduced me noting that all those present from the old days, were there married to one another after all this time. At least if the company does not exist anymore the bond between couples shows that their was something special about the institution.
As the program was about to start and announcemente was made that the listed solo with no credits will be explained after it took place. I feared the worse. The event commenced with simple dance choreographed by Ted Hershey, a former dancer whose legacy was also being honored and followed by a beautiful Solo performed by Paul Dennis I had never seen. Quite exquisite and beautifully danced.
Then came this mysterious “solo”. As the lights came on on stage this beautiful young dancer I had seen the day before stood by a russled bed in the same pose that Juliet, in my version of Romeo and Juliet, would start her first solo of awakening. Lo an behold, the music start and she moved. And it was, beautifully staged by two of my former dancer Thomas Giror and Jeanne Tears-Giroir. I was taken a back and tears flowed, more so when the nurse entered and the character was being portrayed by another dancer from the ‘old Hartford Ballet” who happened to be the mother of this gorgeous child performing the work.
I guess you can imagine how I was feeling at that time. A moment I will never forget who quite simply brought a full circle to an incredible time that was The Hartford Ballet.
More hugs, more watery eyes, more expressions of love and thanks and the proceedings were over.
A quiet dinner on our way back with Judy and John and Joan Simone, former dancers where I was staying and night took over and early morning I was flying back to St. Louis. What used to be a short 2 and half hour flight now takes almost all day as we have no direct flight in American.
Certainly the weekend told me that what we did had not been forgotten or was in vain. Let us hope someone can take the mantle laid for them and bring something back with greatness. I think Stephen at Hartt has the right idea, so after 20 years, i felt “our” child had evolved, differently that what we had hoped or expected, but it had life.