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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Hartt Dances Fall 2021 Program

Hartt Dances Fall 2021 Program

The Hartt School Dance Division, The University Of Hartford

Performance Date:
November 11-13th 2021

Freeform Review:

I personally envy these young dance artists at the Hartt Dances. I so wish to experience these master works during my youth that was long time ago. But I am not complaining about my own experience; as I watch them rehearse, coached by those who actually worked with masters, I too, am learning a lot from them!

The Hartt Dances Fall 2021 Program saw two world premieres by Debra Collin Ryder and Katie Stevinson-Nollet: the short but charming La Bayadere, Merce Cunningham's event put together by Andrea Webber and the Music department which played John Cage's music, and There is Time by Jose Limon.  

— Miki Orihara

Senior Artist Teacher; Faculty: Modern HCD Dance, Dance



I am not a writer, but here are some impressions from those whom I trust:

Writer #1:

"That was one great concert! Our first venture out into the real concert world since since the world was put on hold almost two years ago. And well worth it! Thank you. Some after-thoughts:

1. An incredible jump in the level of classical dance abilities of the female students.  Five to ten years ago, there was no way most of them could have handled Debbie Collins Ryder's piece, let alone try to dance the Bayadere excerpt. I may well be wrong, but I had the sense that many of the students were even more comfortable with the ballet pieces than with the modern dance works and this was a break from the past.

2. I loved Debra's piece. Interesting choreography, quite lovely, in fact.  All within the dancers' capabilities.  Perfectly rehearsed and beautifully danced. She used the entire floor beautifully, with interesting patterns and a lovely flow.  (Please pass this fan letter on to the choreographer if you wish).

3. I have always loved Katie Stevenson-Nollet's creations and this was no exception. I thought the students rose nicely to the challenge of a not-so-easy piece of pure dance.

4. I have always been a big Merce Cunningham fan and was delighted that you were brave enough to do this piece. This is difficult stuff. We have seen some great Cunningham performances in the past as well as some not-so-great ones and the Hartt performance ranked well up there. I think the dancers really got the sense of the dance and may in fact felt liberated by not having to worry about following the music literally. I thought they did this really well.  And of course it was fantastic to have the great percussion group partner with you to handle the not-so-easy Cage music  (admission: I am also a big John Cage fan). I found myself responding as Cunningham would have liked, seeing the dancers and musicians as independent, yet closely linked partners. Bravo. Hope to see more Cunnngham works in the future. Andrea Weber seems to have done a terrific job in getting a college dance group to handle this difficult stuff so effortlessly. Bravo to her too.

5. The Bayadere excerpt — I thought you were brave to do this and the students were valiant in their efforts.  Were these a younger level group than for the other pieces?

6. I think I may  have already used up my allotment of superlatives before even getting to There Is A Time.  We've become used to the Hartt dancers doing an outstanding job with Jose Limon's works. And this was no exceptions. Perfectly done and the high point of an excellent afternoon. I won't even try to go into details except to comment on the combination of incredible charisma and outstanding dancing ability of the two lead male dancers (Alexzander Larson, Blue Richardson). Fantastic. The combination of tension and lyricism was thrilling, really thrilling. As a matter of fact, we were both struck with the caliber of the male dancers throughout the evening, but especialy in the Limon piece. The best of the men may even have eclipsed the level of the best woman dancers; quite a turnabout from the past. We both had the impression that the two men may have bright futures ahead.


Writer #2:

Let me say again, in writing, how much we enjoyed the dance performance Saturday afternoon.  Eric and I are always heartened and impressed with the professionality, grace, and true artistic expression of Hartt dance students. Clearly, your efforts to create a dynamic, superior quality pre-professional program results in outstanding performances and educational excellence that may be unparalleled in dance programs nationwide. Please extend our thanks to the many people who contributed so richly to this production!


Writer #3:

The students danced a wide variety of genres and styles with joy and conviction.  Their individual personal light radiates as they work in sync with their peers.  It gives us hope to know that despite all of the enormous challenges we have faced for many month, high standards and a devotion to the power of art is possible, and perhaps needed now more than ever.


Writer #4:

What a wonderful performance last night! The exceptional variety of the program showcased the breadth of the department's work.  The caliber of faculty choreography coupled with the ability of the students to transition so well from one dance form to another made the performance an unforgettable experience.


Writer #5:

I simply wanted to send a note of congratulations for a gorgeous performance last night. It was so exciting to see such beautiful technique and artistry up close and live! Wonderful work from beginning to end.


Writer #6:

Amazing! It was beautiful, moving, and powerful. Each piece brought me to another world. Congratulations!!


Writer #7:

Another great night of dance! The dancers performed so professionally, and it was a very interesting program. The videographer did a good job mixing in his three cameras to show what was going on in the Cunningham/Cage work, and all the others for a different perspective. Blending two cameras at a time was a great idea. Thanks for another enjoyable evening!


Writer #8: This performance is on such a high level, we were so moved by the artistry and professional work of your dancers! Just fabulous. Wish we could be there… We will watch again tomorrow. Congratulations!

Miki Orihara

Photo Credit:
John Long

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