Spotlight On: Hartford Stage’s Breakdancing Shakespeare

NeighborhoodStudiosIconWith all five Neighborhood Studios well underway, it’s time to drop in and take a closer look at each of our partners. First up, Hartford Stage returns to the Greater Hartford Art Council’s Neighborhood Studios for its eighth summer.  Fifteen apprentices are hard at work on their culminating showcase event, this year’s Breakdancing Shakespeare production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Jennifer Roberts, Director of Education, talks about the goals of the Hartford Stage Studio, the overall program and how they work to empower these students with creative and professional skills.

What are the goals for your studio this summer?

Our goal is to create and perform a production of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona for an audience at Hartford Stage. In our production, breakdancing and hip-hop is a part of the storytelling. Throughout the rehearsal process, the cast will gain new dance skills, work as a cohesive ensemble, and learn to read, understand and speak challenging text.

What’s an average day like at your studio?

NS Breakdancing Shakespeare T-Shirt_FINALRight now, our days are split between working on text and working on dance. Typically, mornings are spent working with the script, practicing vocal techniques, and staging the play, while afternoons are spent learning and rehearsing dances. As we move further into the process, we’ll start to put everything together and working on text and dance will become much less separate – speaking through words or through dance all becomes part of the storytelling.

What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you? 

We have an amazing cast this year – they come with incredible talents and skills already, and yet they also come eager to learn and help each other. Their creativity, hard work and commitment are evident and inspiring.

How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

BDShakespeare (1)
Introducing Breakdancing Shakespeare 2013!

I think it’s very important for these students to learn that there are jobs in the arts, and that creativity and artistic expression are valuable. But even if all of them go into fields other than the arts, they will have experienced the true meaning of working as an ensemble – participating in the arts, and theatre in particular, develops creativity, collaboration, and communication like nothing else, and those are skills they’ll need to succeed, no matter what they choose to do.

Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing such an insightful glimpse into the world of Breakdancing Shakespeare!  To see the culmination of a summer’s worth of text and dance work, come to Hartford Stage’s Neighborhood Studios showcase event, Two Gentlemen of Verona, presented on August 13, 14 and 15 at 7 pm at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford.  Admission is $5 and for more information, visit