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The Hartt School Community Division Soars to New Heights with the Ballet Production of "Peter Pan" June 13-15

Posted 06/04/2014
Submitted by Emily Wolfram
Category: Campus Announcements

On Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m., the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School Community Division presents the world premiere of the ballet, Peter Pan. This production features newly commissioned music by Kermit Poling and original choreography by Samantha Dunster. Additional matinee and evening performances follow on June 14 and 15. Performances will be held in Millard Auditorium at the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under, and $20 for students and senior citizens with ID. Call the University Box Office at 860.768.4228 or 800.274.8587 or visit to purchase tickets.

Peter Pan Performance Times:

Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 14, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 15, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it,” said J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan. The story of Peter Pan has intrigued and beguiled children and adults alike for more than a century. The Hartt Community Division Dance Department’s production features this timeless story told through Artistic Director Samantha Dunster’s original choreography set to a new musical score by composer/conductor Kermit Poling.

This artistic collaboration between Dunster and Poling follows last season’s highly successful Snow White production, which also featured the work of both artists and prompted the commissioning project for Peter Pan. Named as one of Forum Magazine’s “Top Ten Faces to Watch in Shreveport, La.,” Poling will travel to Hartford to conduct the live orchestra for the performances. Guest artists Eddy Tovar and Kathryn Manger will dance the roles of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, while the Dance Department's very own Gabrielle Collins, a finalist in this year's Youth America Grand Prix, will dance the role of Wendy.

Audience members of all ages will have the chance to revisit their youth as they follow Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell on their journey to Never Never Land. The characters will literally soar and fly off the stage with the spectacular flying effects of ZFX Flying Effects™.  The soloists will be joined by a corps de ballet of more than 150 dancers from Hartt’s pre-professional, foundation and children’s ballet programs. As Artistic Director Samantha Dunster notes, “The opportunity for young dancers to be deeply involved in the process of producing a full-length, fully-staged production with live music is already very special. Being part of a world premiere and seeing the new work develop in front of them throughout the process brings the experience to an even more extraordinary level.

About the Guest Artists

A native of Cuba, Eddy Tovar began his dance training at the National Ballet School in Havana. Prior to joining the faculty of the Hartt Community Division, Tovar was a principal dancer with the Texas Ballet Theater for three years and the Orlando Ballet for nine years. He has also been resident guest artist with the Los Angeles Ballet and made guest appearances with several other ballet companies throughout the United States. Internationally, Tovar has performed in ballet galas in Japan, Canada, Argentina, and Latvia. He was the recipient of several gold medals for dance competitions in Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba. In 2008, he appeared on the television program So You Think You Can Dance performing the principal role in George Balanchine’s Who Cares? Some of Tovar's favorite classical roles have included Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, and the Prince in The Sleeping Beauty. He has also enjoyed performing works by George Balanchine, Val Caniporoli and Twyla Tharp. Tovar is married and is the proud father of a beautiful little girl.

Born in Connecticut, Kathryn Manger, who studied completed her pre-professional training at the Hartt School Community Division Dance Department, is currently a member of Milwaukee Ballet 2. She has performed in ballet galas including Hartt’s Got Talent of 2012, and Connecticut Dance Alliance 2011-12. Manger was among the top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in 2012 held in Torrington, Conn. She was the recipient of several gold medals for the Connecticut Dance Alliance of 2011-12 and the Francine Goldfarb Scholarship of 2009. Some of Manger’s favorite classical roles have included Swanhilda in Coppelia, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty Suite, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and Kitri in Don Quixote.

About Choreographer and Artistic Director Samantha Dunster

Before coming to The Hartt School in 2011, Samantha Dunster served as assistant to the artistic director/ballet mistress of Orlando Ballet (Florida) and taught at the Orlando Ballet School. Dunster began her professional training with Cristina Pora in Toronto, Canada. At the age of 17, she traveled to Havana, Cuba, to train with the National Ballet of Cuba. She continued dancing with the company of Centro Pro-Danza under the direction of Laura Alonso, where she also worked as Regisseur. She earned her teaching diploma through the Cuban Ballet training method.

Ms. Dunster has danced and taught in countries around the world including Sweden, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, as well as in the United States. In 1996, she accepted the position of artistic director and principal dancer of Bale da Ilha in Brazil, where she mounted numerous full-length ballets. By 2000, she became ballet mistress of the Orlando Ballet under the direction of Fernando Bujones. Dunster re-choreographed La Fille Mal Gardee in 2001, and her invitation to set La Fille Mal Gardee on the National Ballet of Korea came two years later. In 2004, she was commissioned by Orlando Ballet to create a world premiere production of Camelot. In 2007, she accepted the role of assistant to the artistic director of Orlando Ballet under the direction of Bruce Marks. The following year, the pair staged the full-length production of Don Quixote together. Dunster also has staged several of Bruce Marks's works, including Lark Ascending, for Louisville Ballet. In 2010, Dunster served as the Canadian judge for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss.

About Composer Kermit Poling

Named by Forum Magazine as one of the top 10 faces to watch, Centaur recording artist Kermit Poling is music director of both the South Arkansas Symphony and the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet. He has been the associate/resident conductor and concertmaster of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra for more than 26 years. He performs extensively throughout the United States and around the world both as a violinist and conductor. He has conducted or soloed with the Orchestra of the Province of Lecco (Italy), the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México, the Guanajuato Symphony (Mexico), the Riverside Symphonia (New Jersey), the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and Moscow Ballet, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Filharmonia Veneta, Shenzhen Symphony of China, the Mayormente Mozart Festival of Puerto Rico, the Inter-American Festival of Contemporary Music, and many other orchestras throughout his career.

As a composer, Poling's first ballet, Snow White, was commissioned and premiered by the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet in the spring of 2003 and was repeated in 2004, 2009, and in 2013 for the Hartt Community Division Dance Department to rave reviews. Other compositions include the ballet The Wizard of Oz, a string quartet Within the Orb of Glories Wearing, and the score to the film Silent Treatment. His most recent ballets include Phantom of the Opera, premiered by Ballet Oklahoma in 2010, and Aladdin, premiered by the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet in 2011. Another recent work, No Sound of Trumpet nor Roll of Drum, was premiered in 2011, honoring the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.