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World Of Dance
Spectacular Cultural Event Performed in Granby



By Judi Hauser
See the photos!

One chilly, crisp November evening a sold-out crowd of more than 700 people came together in an auditorium to witness a celebration of movement, costumes, color and culture. They traveled to exotic places such as Brazil, India, Mali, and Peru without ever having to leave their seats. On November 9, 2007 the Granby Education Foundation (GEF), in conjunction with Granby Public Schools and with generous support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Holcomb Farm Learning Centers and a number of other friends of the Foundation, presented The World of Dance at Granby Memorial High School. The result could not have been more spectacular, invigorating the sell-out crowd through the power of the Arts and raising more than $3,000 for the GEF Arts Endowment.

The extravaganza featured four artists from the Connecticut Ballet, who performed multi-cultural dances in a stunning culminating event to a residency program conducted in the Granby schools this fall. More than 80 Granby students showcased what they learned by performing the Peruvian Carnivalito, a festival dance; traditional African drumming; East Indian Kathak Dance; and the martial arts form of Brazilian Capoeira.

Beginning in October, the four artists from the Connecticut Ballet served as artists-in-residence at Kearns, Kelly Lane, Wells Road, and Granby Memorial Middle Schools. A full-school assembly was held at each of the participating schools to present the program to students and to introduce the four cultures that would be explored and interpreted through dance. The artists introduced East Indian Dance, Peruvian Dance, Brazilian Capoeira, and Malian djembe drumming. Following this introduction, students in each school studied one of these cultures in-depth through a four-day residency (one day each week for four weeks) hosted by the unified arts team in each school. While all students in these schools benefited from the residency, students in specific grade levels met weekly with the artist during a physical education or music class to study the art form in more depth. Grades 2, 4, 7 and 8 participated in the weekly programs.

Bringing The World of Dance to Granby was the vision of Granby Education Foundation Board Member Sandra Fischer and Granby School Superintendent Dr. Gwen Van Dorp. "The World of Dance program introduces students to a wide range of dance forms, exposes them to the diversity of world music and dance, and allows them to interact with dancers and musicians," Dr. Van Dorp stated. "I cannot say enough about the commitment of the Granby teachers and faculty to this program. Each one of them embraced the program by researching the cultures and working with their students. I think this commitment speaks volumes for this community and for the future of this community."

The Connecticut Ballet is a non-profit organization comprised of the performing company, year-round outreach programs, and the Connecticut Ballet Center, its affiliated school. Brett Raphael, the Ballet's artistic director and CEO, praised Granby for being unique in its support for the Arts, and for providing "red carpet treatment" to him and his artists. Through the Ballet's educational outreach programs, Mr. Raphael has worked in schools across the state. Based on these experiences, Mr. Raphael told the audience how lucky Granby is, because it has something that many communities do not - a dedicated Superintendent of Schools and the support of the Granby Education Foundation.
"This was such a fruitful partnership between the schools and our Foundation," says GEF Chairwoman Trish Percival. "The teachers and staff showed such incredible dedication, and the Granby Education Foundation was proud to support their efforts. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention all of the hard work put in by a small group of GEF volunteers who pulled together to make this event a successful fundraiser for the Arts Endowment. My thanks go out to them."

The four featured artists were Edith Ortiz, who taught Peruvian Dance; Issa Coulibaly who delighted audience members and students with his talent on the Malian djembe drums; Neelima Beri who taught the East Indian Dance (which, by the way, is performed wearing a costume adorned with a total of five pounds of bells sewn around the ankles); and Guilherme Torres, who thrilled the crowd with his effortless and seemingly weightless flips and acrobatic skills when performing the Brazilian Capoeira.

Kearns second grader Cheryl LaTona has this to say about her experience, "I felt happy to be on stage. My instructor, Miss Ortiz, was very nice. I liked learning a new dance from a different part of the world." Her sister, Celine LaTona, a fourth grader at Kelly Lane said, "I loved my instructor Issa Coulibaly. He was fun to work with and he always encouraged us. He knew just what to say to keep us focused. He made the experience fun, exciting and not at all scary. I wish that they could come back again to share more of their talents with us. If all of the performers could stay in Granby longer, I would love to get to know each of them."

"This month-long program, along with the November event, is the essence of why the Granby Education Foundation Arts Endowment exists," said Laura Fetridge, GEF board member and World of Dance Committee chairperson. "By using the GEF Arts Endowment to bring programs such as The World of Dance to Granby, students and the entire community are being exposed to art forms they might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience. The enthusiasm throughout the community - from students, to teachers, to parents-was very evident during the show." Fetridge also went on to comment that during a performance by an artist peforming an African dance, her first-grader, Emma, turned to her and said "Mom, I want her to teach me how to dance like that."

Sponsored by Holcomb Farm Learning Centers, with additional support from Adams & Knight Advertising Inc., Nutmeg's Dance and Theatre Company, and New England Financial Group, The World of Dance is the fourth event brought to Granby by the Granby Education Foundation in an effort to raise awareness of its Arts Endowment. While the GEF Arts Endowment is not yet fully funded, the organization has brought a number of exciting performers to town, including Livingston Taylor, Cliff Eberhardt, the Freestyle Repertory Theatre, students from the Hartt School of Music, Tom Chapin and Friends, and now the Connecticut Ballet.

The arts engage a person's mind, heart and body. The arts connect people to themselves and to each other. When multiple generations experience the arts together, young people gain an understanding that learning is a never-ending process. The mission of the GEF Arts Endowment is to further enhance that experience.

To date, the GEF has raised more than $140,000 toward its $200,000 goal for the establishment of an Arts Endowment, a program through which the Foundation plans to sponsor high quality artistic experiences for Granby school students and area residents. If you'd like to support the arts in Granby, please make a tax-deductible donation to the GEF Arts Endowment. Mail your gift to P.O. Box 351, Granby, CT 06035, and write Arts Endowment on the memo line. You can learn more about the GEF by visiting the website at www.granbyeducationfoundation.org or by calling GEF Chairperson Trish Percival at 653-7095.