Dancentral Prepares for Virtual Showcase “Legends”


Molly Ingram, Staff Writer

Dancentral, Central Connecticut’s dance company, will air its virtual showcase “Legends” on April 18 at 3 p.m.

The company’s dancers and faculty have choreographed and rehearsed following social distancing protocols or virtually throughout the semester. This has been a major change caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The company and department-at-large struggled to continue pursuing our passion for dance safely,” CCSU Dance Program Director Pascal Rekoert said. “As artists, we’re used to thinking out-of-the-box and we used Zoom to continue the creative process.”

Specific restrictions included allowing only nine dancers in the Dance Education Center at one time, making rehearsing large pieces difficult. Masks were worn at all times and will be worn when filming the show. The dancers also faced restrictions regarding the ways in which they could interact with one another on the stage.

“Although we are still limited in our options [full-body partnering is not on the table], we are using our restrictions to our advantage,” Rekoert said. “Instead of fixating on constraints, we look at what we can do.”

By dividing larger casts up between video chat and in person, the company was able to safely choreograph certain pieces that had more than 10 dancers. However, practicing the choreography was difficult to do through a computer.

“Zoom is an excellent platform for social and academic enrichment, but it is not designed for dance rehearsals,” Rekoert said. “As a community, we needed to adapt to rehearsing in virtual spaces. Kinesthetic learning from a 2-dimensional laptop image is different than learning from a real-life person. Verbal communication is also compromised when music is playing and dancers are masked.”

Although the company had originally hoped that they would be able to host an in person show, they did not want to risk having to cancel the performance all together and instead opted for a pre-recorded performance.

“We wanted to make it as ‘live’ as possible and give our audience as much of a theater experience as we could, so we decided to film everything onstage with full lights and professional videography,” Dancentral Director Erica Nelson said. “To make that work, there are a lot of moving parts, technology and an extensive team of creatives and professionals to coordinate.”

Despite all of the difficulties associated with producing a virtual show, there have been some benefits. While students with families that live far away may not have had familiar audience members in years past, they will be able to share their talent across the world this year.

“The most apparent benefit to broadcasting the performance is not being bound to geographic limitations,” Rekoert said. “Instead of having the audience travel to us, we are streaming directly into people’s homes. Family and friends from across the world can tune in. I look forward to connecting to our community beyond Connecticut state.”

Another positive is the opportunity for dancers to fine tune their final product during the show.

“One benefit is that you’ll see the absolute best version of our show,” Nelson said. “In a live performance in the theater, anything can happen, from technical errors with music or lights, small dancer mistakes, or that one distracting audience member with the blinding full-flash camera that you get every year!”

The show’s theme “Legends” is an ode to musical heroes from the 20th century as well as Catherine Fellows, a CCSU alumnus. Catherine Fellows, who was the CCSU Dance Program Director until her retirement in June 2020, is widely known in the dance community.

“‘Legends’ is a dance performance honoring music icons of the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s,” Rekoert said.

“This performance also celebrates CCSU dance icon Catherine Fellows, who through her 44-year long career as a professor left us with a rich legacy that includes a beautiful dance complex dedicated specifically to dance, a wide range of dance programs and courses and state-wide K-12 dance certification. Ultimately, this show is a gift to our audience members. As performing arts lovers, we need to acknowledge that our legacies lie with our audiences. We celebrate that and choose to do so through music that inspires and that you could sing along to.”

Members of Dancentral are excited to perform to the iconic music. “I love the idea of honoring the legends that came before us,” Dancentral Vice President Tiana Boccuzzi said. “It feels like a huge milestone in my dance career to perform to songs written by musical legends.”

Audience members can expect many different genres of dance, as well as multiple musical legends. “You’ll see a wide range of choreography, including modern, contemporary, jazz and ballroom set to classic tunes from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Etta James and many more,” Nelson said. “As our first show together in over a year, we wanted to use music that was comforting and familiar to all as a way to bring our community together, no matter how far away they might be.”

Looking forward, Dancentral is hoping to dance with fewer restrictions during the Fall semester. “This year, I have missed seeing people’s faces,” Rekoert said. “I look forward to seeing students smile.”

“It is simply not the same online,” Nelson said. “Nothing beats moving in a studio with your fellow dancers.” As part of a community that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson reminds the CCSU community to support the arts in any way they can.

“Without the arts, this past year would have been immensely more difficult.”

While the pandemic is slowly improving, many arts venues remain shuttered or permanently closed and it will take a long time for the art world to recover. Art is all around us and has consistently helped us heal and grow as a people. Now more than ever, we need to show our appreciation for art and arts education for the benefit of future generations.

“Legends” can be watched via livestream on April 18 at 3 p.m. at the following link: