Spotlight On: Hartford Stage's Breakdancing Shakespeare

Hello Arts Council blog readers! To kick things off, let me introduce myself. I’m Gina, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut and this is my fourth year with Neighborhood Studios’ Breakdancing Shakespeare program. I’d like to give you all a little insight into what is going on in the rehearsal studio for Breakdancing Shakespeare’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, where I have the honor to be playing Leonato, the father of Hero. 

Now that that is out of the way…on to better things. We have hit the ground running at Olympic speed this year. With an off-book date of July 9th and our fabulous director taking some time off to tie the knot, we have been forging ahead with the show in so many ways.

Breakdancing Shakespeare 1We kicked off the week working on finishing the opening number (see video clips from the opening number) and learning a pretty (but complicated for some, aka, me) House routine that will be the basis for the next number we will be learning for the show. On Monday, we attended our first Neighborhood Studios session where Chris O’Connor, the Neighborhood Studios Project Manager, spoke about first impressions, networking and a few other topics. At the end, we were able to put what we just learned into action when a few employees of the Arts Council joined our session. We mingled with them and apprentices from other studios, introducing ourselves and talking about what was going on in our studios, about ourselves, and so on.

ImageOn Tuesday, we spent some time with master teaching artist Bob Davis in a voice based master class. We spent time learning how to relax our bodies without completely relaxing so our bodies are free of tension but not falling asleep at the same time. Wednesday we took the day off to relax for the holiday and Thursday was one of the most exciting days yet (for me at least). In the afternoon we spent some time with Hartford Stage’s Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak on the MainStage. The focus of this master class was to work on filling the theatre with our voices, as well as to make sure that everyone in the audience feels ‘loved’ when we say our lines (not everyone needs the backside of an actor at all times!).

Having Darko take time out of his schedule to work with us is such a blessing and I hope he can squeeze us in again before the show goes up. His words of wisdom and advice are invaluable at this stage and we are so lucky to have him. (He also picked a monologue I had to memorize as part of an exercise during his workshop, so I should really thank him for the help memorizing, too!)

Friday was another voice class with Bob Davis and more work on choreography for the show. We also did a stumble-through of the show (with scripts in hands, of course), which definitely helped for being off-book on Monday.

ImageFor more insider looks at the scenes, dances and other cool stuff we will be working on for Breakdancing Shakespeare, check out the Hartford Stage’s blog frequently, which also includes an entry about the first week of the program. Breakdancing Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing will perform at Hartford Stage on Monday August 6 at 6:00p and 8:30p. Tickets are $5 and will be available through the Box Office (860) 527-5151 and online at

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