Grantee Spotlight: Connecticut Ballet

African dance presentation: Education of the Dancer | via

Here at the Greater Hartford Arts Council, our mission includes funding over 150 arts and cultural organizations that help make our community strong and vibrant. That’s why we invest in programs like Neighborhood Studios, our award-winning, nationally recognized summer arts apprenticeship program and organizations that fuel creativity and innovation by awarding grants.

Ignition Grants  fuel the research, design and execution of new strategic plans to support arts and cultural organizations as they strive to create unique and innovative solutions that go beyond “business as usual”—delivering exciting, cutting-edge programs that reflect the creative spirit of our community-and encourage innovation in all aspects of our daily lives.

One of our 2017 Ignition Grantees is Connecticut Ballet, the state’s very own professional ballet company. Celebrating its 35th Anniversary, Connecticut Ballet prides itself on maintaining the highest standards of professional ballet performance and training while continuing to stimulate an appreciation of the dance medium and respond to Connecticut’s developing interest in dance.


“We strive to provide the best in classical and contemporary ballet to audiences in greater Hartford through our performances at The Bushnell and elsewhere. We play an important role in keeping all the arts happening and available to audiences of all ages and backgrounds,” explained Connecticut Ballet’s Artistic Director & CEO, Brett Raphael.

Founded in 1981 by Raphael and fellow choreographer, Luk de Layress, Connecticut Ballet made its official debut (under the company’s former title, Ballet Today) in New York at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Regarding the development of Connecticut Ballet, Raphael said, “I began to see the need for a statewide company to produce not only my work but that of classical and contemporary choreographers, past and present. Upon the demise of the Hartford Ballet, it became even more a part of our mission to serve greater Hartford and the state as a whole.”

Today, as Connecticut Ballet continues to thrive, Raphael has made the commissioning of new works by today’s choreographers a hallmark of the company’s repertoire alongside stagings of the great story ballets. Now at over 60 works, the repertoire spans the gamut from masterworks by Bob Fosse to George Balanchine to commissioned works from Darrell Grand-Moultrie to Lila York. In 2005, the company created a home in Hartford, performing at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts.

“Share the Magic”, 2014 | via

As part of their mission, Connecticut Ballet develops future artists and audiences through its affiliated school, Connecticut Ballet Center and Center for Dance Education, serving all ages and backgrounds to develop a greater appreciation for the dance art form. Throughout its history, the organization has presented educational assembly programs, conducted residencies and outreach classes in public schools, community centers, and residential treatment centers. It is estimated that over 300,000 students have attended such performances since 1991.

“With the help of Travelers Companies, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and others, we have been able to sustain our annual ‘Share the Magic’ student performances in association with Hartford Performs for the past five years. Over 900 Hartford school children see a live professional ballet performance narrated by myself at The Bushnell each spring.” The company is also hoping to include a second performance with a targeted audience of middle school students next season.

Additionally, Connecticut Ballet has a Center for Dance Education which provides residential treatment facilities and other community partners with classes the opportunity to expose mainstream and undeserved youth to professional dance instruction and performance and to develop student talent through accelerated training. While teaching dance styles ranging from hip hop to West African dance, the Center for Dance Education seeks to instill discipline, build confidence, and inspire a positive world view.

Similar to many of our arts & cultural organizations, Connecticut Ballet works to make the arts available to all despite age, income, background or location. “We are change agents in providing and sustaining quality dance programs in the greater Hartford area to under-served populations many of whom have never had access to such services or entertainment,” said Raphael. “Our upcoming July 22nd free outdoor performance at Elizabeth Park (6:30pm start time) is an example of providing the opportunity for anyone to come and sample a variety of dance styles in a gorgeous summer setting.”

For more information on our 2017 Ignition Grantee, Connecticut Ballet visit!

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