SHU Dance Co. to Perform in 20th Anniv. 5X5 Dance Fest

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s dance company has been accepted to participate in the 20th annual 5x5 Contemporary Dance Festival in West Hartford―Connecticut’s most esteemed event of its kind. It will take place Nov. 6.

The affair is an accumulation of performers, choreographers, educators and students who are dedicated to studying, performing and creating this art form. Participating dance groups were accepted after a review of prerecorded submissions and will perform in front of a live audience. 

The 5x5 festival was founded to address the need for dancers in the greater Hartford area to have performance opportunities. Its name relates to its pairing of five professional and five collegiate ensembles, celebrating various forms and styles of dance, ethnic and cultural diversity, dance beyond the traditional form and inclusive dance for the artist and audience.

Kari Williams, director of dance at Sacred Heart, facilitates the dance company, which is part of SHU’s dance program. Students must audition, and participation fulfills one credit per semester. The program is for advanced dance students who want to train and perform at a high level. The pre-professional performance company provides students with the opportunity to learn from professional choreographers and dance faculty. They explore dance styles such as contemporary, modern, jazz, ballet and tap. There is a professional track that simulates the experience of a university dance major while enabling students to earn a degree of their choice.

“We are thrilled to have been accepted to present our work in the prestigious 5x5 Contemporary Dance Festival this year. Opportunities like these to present our work outside of the SHU community do so much to enhance the overall experience of our students, many of whom are emerging as professional artists. It also demonstrates to a larger audience that SHU’s dance program is on par with some of the most reputable college and professional dance programs in Connecticut,” Williams said.

Sacred Heart’s dance company will perform a contemporary piece called Imbroglio, choreographed by Shane Farrell. It was featured in a legacy project last year, but this presentation will be the first time it is performed in front of a live audience.

“We are so excited to have another opportunity to perform Shane’s piece, Imbroglio, on stage, especially at the 5x5 Contemporary Dance Festival,” said senior Chandler DeCusati. “Due to COVID-19, live performances were put on hold for quite a bit of time. Any opportunity to perform on a stage is so fulfilling, and we can't wait to connect with other artists from around Connecticut.”

There are 11 performers in the festival from the SHU Dance Company: Alissa Gaulin ’23, Allie Giuffra ’23, Annika Bokor ’22, Jillian Bowman ’24, Kaitlin Broyles ’23, Kiera Walsh ’23, Lauren Szczepanowski ’22, Marycate Cassidy ’23, Ryan Solorzano ’22, Tara Keating ’22 and Chandler DeCusati ’22.

“This is a great honor. I am extremely proud of all the dancers, choreographers and staff on this team, as well as the consistent growth of this program, gaining both national and international recognition for our SHU dance community,” Williams said.  

Other participating dance groups in this year’s festival include Ballet Hartford, Dimensional Dance, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, Immix Dance Project, Moxie Dance Company, New England Ballet Theatre of Connecticut, MBDance Theatre, Fiona Scruggs, University of Saint Joseph and Eastern Connecticut State University. 

For more details or to purchase tickets, visit ShowPass.


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 387 Colleges–2022 Edition, “Best Northeastern” and Best Business Schools–2021 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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