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Dance Group Invites Students Onstage

Spectrum Company Teaches A Lesson In Inclusiveness

April 1, 2006
By FULVIO CATIVO, Courant Staff Writer

WEST HARTFORD -- Olivia Davis says dance is a great communicator.

If that's the case, her dance company's performance brought down the house Friday at King Philip Middle School.

Davis, artistic director of the Hartford-based Spectrum in Motion Dance Company, was there with some of her dancers to perform at an assembly in front of about 700 seventh- and eighth-graders.

But some King Philip students didn't just watch. About a dozen members of King Philip's after-school dance club, who trained with Davis Thursday afternoon, joined the company Friday during the show.

The teenagers joined dancers not much older than themselves to wrap up a performance that drew thunderous cheers, admiration and sheer disbelief from the audience.

"How did he do that?" some students whispered to their classmates. Others giggled as they watched dancers twist into unusual shapes. One young man in the audience wondered aloud, "Doesn't that hurt?" as a performer balanced himself from a chair using his hips. When their classmates took the stage, some students in the audience got on their feet and cheered furiously.

While the choreography drew the students' attention and applause, the presentation, in which Davis would introduce a dance, theme and music, packed lessons for students to take away.

"Prior to Eminem, Ludacris and 50 Cent, there were people named Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni," Davis told the students, referring to the poets and relating some of today's popular artists to older cultural icons.

Davis' company's incorporation of different cultures, various styles of music and performers of all shapes and sizes sends a clear message of inclusiveness to the middle school audience, King Philip Art teacher Brigid Kennedy said.

"Seeing dance celebrated as the language of movement, inclusion and diversity with our own students is a rare treat," King Philip Principal Mary E. Hourdequin told the audience.

For the dance company members, the performance was an opportunity to share their love of dance with local students.

"Whatever I can bring that I like and they like it as well, it's a good thing," said Tristan Drummond, 23, one of the company's dancers.

Some students found a clearer purpose in their participation - fun - but, some said they took away important lessons about persistence, dedication and expression from their training with Davis' dance company and Friday's performance.

Tameria Starks, an 11-year-old sixth-grader who performed with the dance company, summed it up her way: "Dance is my thing."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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