For the Register Citizen
TORRINGTON – A wise friend once told Sharon Dante, “Do you want to just choreograph ‘The Nutcracker’ or do you want to choreograph the Nutmeg Ballet?”
It was shortly after she founded Nutmeg Ballet almost 50 years ago. It got Dante, a Torrington native, thinking beyond one production at a time with whatever group of students then under her tutelage. It got her thinking of making Nutmeg known outside of Torrington, outside of Connecticut, outside of the United States.
She told this story April 25 at a 50th-anniversary planning meeting at the home of Susan Szabo, ballet mistress of Torrington School of Ballet, whose young dancers often move on to study at Nutmeg.
“Nutmeg is more than Torrington,” Dante said. “Torrington is the world.”
About 25 students, staff and friends of Nutmeg attended the informal planning meeting, including artistic director Victoria Mazzarelli, who said that some former students from different parts of the country grew to be so close that after graduation they attended each other’s weddings. She said it is important to reach out to these and all alumni and make them part of a year of celebration, beginning July 1.
Some details of that “soft launch” of Nutmeg’s golden jubilee year will be announced May 16, opening night of the Nutmeg Dance Jubilee, Mazzarelli said. The performances will be on the Warner Theatre’s main stage and will coincide with the graduation weekend for the 49th class of Nutmeg students.
The Nutmeg Dance Jubilee will run May 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and May 18 at 2 p.m. and will feature a mix of modern and classical dance. A special encore performance of “Jazz With Charlie,” a collaboration between Mazzarelli and jazz musician Charlie Patterson, will highlight the event, featuring live music by JINQS.
To prepare for the upcoming event-filled year, Nutmeg archivists Denise and Michael Limoli are assembling a timeline display of the Nutmeg’s history, beginning with its humble beginnings on Migeon Avenue, proceeding to its presence on the third floor of a Water Street building, and culminating at its prominent downtown location near the Warner Theatre as the Nutmeg Conservatory.
Mazzarelli said, “History doesn’t stop and start over again. It’s continuous. Nutmeg is a way of life.”
Holly Watson, director of the Nutmeg Dance Shop, summed up the enthusiasm of the group. “I want the city of Torrington to understand what the history of Nutmeg means to them,” she said.
To be among the first to learn details of Nutmeg’s upcoming year of celebration, come to the Nutmeg Dance Jubilee May 16-18. For tickets, call the Warner box office at 860-489-7180 or go to Nutmegconservatory.org, choose Performances from the top menu, then click on Dance Jubilee.
Planning committee co-chairs Dr. Jennifer Wojcik and Susan Szabo, seated, conduct the planning meeting while Nutmeg founder Sharon Dante, right, listens to a suggestion.
From left are ballet master Tim Melady ’85, senior ballet mistress Denise Warner Limoli, founder Sharon Dante, board president Susan Patterson, and archive committee member Dr. Michael Limoli.
Jeanne Diorio Griffen ’78, artistic director Victoria Mazzarelli ’84 and associate director Joan Kunsch pose at the April 25 planning meeting.