CONNetic Dance Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Wadsworth

EntertainmentMusicArts and CultureArtConcertsDanceWadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

A Midsummer Night's Dream

June 23, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $30, The Aetna Theatre at the Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main St., Hartford, purchase tickets at (860) 251-9194 or conneticdance.com.

 

Since the CONNetic Dance Company was founded in 2006, the troupe has gained a reputation for being innovative and different, as anyone who's attended their now annual production of "The Nutcracker Suite and Spicy" can attest. The troupe is a contemporary ballet company and according to director and choreographer Carolyn Paine, the word contemporary is key to what they are. "For me," Paine said, "contemporary ballet is keeping the technique the same but changing how it's done, the music it's set to, where it's set. Making it something that a contemporary audience of our peers is going to respond to."

The company's new show at the Wadsworth on June 23 is A Midsummer Night's Dream, to which Paine and the troupe has fashioned a very different take on the classic tale. "It's a fun show that all ages can relate to and it's one that's done a lot in dance, but I think A Midsummer Night's Dream is hilarious. A lot of dance productions are afraid to make it silly." Paine's idea was to set her Midsummer in a steampunk world set to music by Gotye, Bjork, Imogen Heap, composer Bruno Coulais and Pachelbel's Canon.

Art has always played a major role in the company's productions and last year's backdrop to The Nutcracker from artist Ethan Boisvert was displayed at Hartford City Hall. Midsummer features production design from local artist Geoff Houghton and includes props and costumes that have been donated by various artists and members of the steampunk community.

Paine cited the Mark Twain House's recent Steampunk Bizarre: The Unknown exhibition as a major inspiration for opening her eyes to the possibilities of a genre she had been aware of for many years. "I just was fascinated by the concepts," she said. "What really captivated me was the design, the art, the photography, the clothing. That idea of looking back looking forward."

For the dancers, Midsummer presents two major challenges. The first is that it requires a lot of acting. The second is that the show involves children. "There's a little over 20 kids in the production," said Paine, about the dancers aged three to 15. "On Nutcracker, we only have two kids, so this was a big undertaking, but the children are wonderful and the dancers all help out with them. I think they see everyone as big kids."

Paine admits that the production is a little risky, but she feels that greater Hartford audiences don't get enough credit for being a daring, educated audience as evidenced by the success of Nutcracker. "I actually think that Connecticut audiences will accept more risks than in New York," she said. "People like that there's something different that they can chose. Just look at theater here in Hartford. Hartford Stage and TheaterWorks take tons of risks, they do a lot of like cool new stuff that is very different. Knowing the theater community here, I felt safe taking risks. Connecticut audiences will dig this."

Paine confesses to being a tech junkie and laughingly admits that she prefers the steampunk world to the actual Victorian era. "If I lived in Victorian times, I would have died."

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