It’s no secret that Sharon E. Dante, founding Executive Director of The Nutmeg Ballet in downtown Torrington, has very deep roots in the community. The arts organization she has built, with humble beginnings as a small dance studio on Migeon Avenue, is now a state-of-the-art facility in Torrington’s arts corridor fast approaching its fiftieth anniversary.
While Dante’s career has taken her to all corners of the world, Torrington will always be the place she calls home.
“No matter what I do, this is my hometown,” she said, and quoted the late former Gov. Ella T Grasso for inspiring her life mantra of “‘Grow where you are planted.”
“This is a town that is creating art, that is devoted to humanity,” Dante said.
And these deeply rooted ties to and love of the local community only begin with The Nutmeg Ballet’s Founding Executive Director. These roots are bearing fruit in many ways.
Artistic Director, Victoria Mazzarelli and Academic Director, Donna Mattiello, proudly call themselves hometown girls. Both Mazzarelli and Mattiello were born and raised in Torrington, attending local schools and training with Sharon Dante at Torrington School of Ballet. After graduating from Torrington High School, both Mazzarelli and Mattiello embarked upon exciting chapters of their respective stories. Mazzarelli, after being awarded a gold medal, built a successful professional dance career in Europe while Mattiello went on to college and a law degree.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and these talented, intelligent, resourceful women find themselves back at The Nutmeg Ballet helping Sharon Dante continue to build a legacy right in the heart of downtown Torrington.
“I love Torrington and love being a part of what’s happening here. I always felt like I wanted to give back to this community in some way,” said Mazzarelli. “I am so fortunate and so thrilled to be able to take everything I learned from Sharon, and my 20 years of dancing, and give it back. I am thrilled at being able to pass this legacy on to the students at Nutmeg. I feel honored and privileged to have wonderful people around me and to work with these young artists.”
The Nutmeg Ballet’s year-round and summer programs bring a boost of tourism to Torrington’s Main Street and each year many returning students and their families have found that the arts corridor is one step closer to fulfilling its destiny as a mecca for the arts. With The Nutmeg Ballet and Warner Theatre as the anchors, little gems such as Five Points Gallery have become an attraction for the annual visitors as well.
This fairy tale is a story of commitment and devotion to a dream and the strong belief in building up and working with the local community to create art at a very high level.
Grow where you are planted is the perfect way to describe Nutmeg Ballet’s trajectory. Reaching a high caliber of recognition and results in the realm of classical ballet training has been no easy feat. But the strong roots and commitment to Torrington and what it means to be a part of such a community, are at the very heart of this wonderful story.