Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the artform of dance 

Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spectrum in Motion offers and hear about some of their most recent productions.  


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Zydalis Bauer: Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience.

The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the art form of dance.

I spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, founder and artistic director, and Thulani Davis, director of programing, to learn more about the programs they offer and hear about some of their most recent productions.

Oliva Ilano-Davis, Spectrum in Motion: Everybody should be dancing. That’s a core value.

Everybody should be dancing, dance is for everyone. And dance is one of those things, funny enough, that is a connecting point for all of us, in terms of humanity. So, that’s always been a core value.

And what what do we mean by that, right? That sounds poetic. What we mean by that, is the actually, the telling of stories. So, we tell our stories. And we give room for everybody to see the story.

And me, choreographer,  for me, also records in my, through my years of experience of being with people, is hearing people’s stories and hopefully incorporate those stories.

And then what we find is that those stories, again, are the ones that connects us, as people. There’s more similarities then difference.

Zydalis Bauer: Now, one of your recent productions is a powerful piece titled “Pieces of a Man” and was choreographed by you, Olivia, and performed by Henry Set, Jr.

What is the inspiration and message behind this piece and how did it come about?

Oliva Ilano-Davis: My father has always told me to tell stories. You know, I remember even as a kid, he said to me, “We’re immigrants in this country.”

This country’s made of immigrants. So, we all come from a different place, via good ways or bad ways. We all have a story to tell. And what would make us Americans better people, is to not be afraid of telling those stories.

With that said, “Pieces of Man” started with my dad.  And so, as I was trying to grasp what my story is — which is basically the American experience from an immigrant’s point of view — Pieces of a Man came to me.

Zydalis Bauer: So, I really want to repeat the mantra at Spectrum in Motion, because I think it’s it’s worth saying more than once: everybody should be dancing regardless of race, class, gender, age, ability, or experience level.

What are some of the programing and events that you offer at Spectrum in Motion that really emphasizes this statement?

Thulani Davis, Spectrum in Motion: Our art is intended to be performed. And it’s intended to be shared, as such. So, we have a plethora of annual performances that we do that celebrate, just that.

We do Dugo Alaala a lot, which means blood memories, which is our Black History Month performance, that show like — blood memories, right? It’s literally the roots of no matter where you come from, but the roots of our ancestors and honoring and celebrating them and bringing forth those stories the best way we know how.

Zydalis Bauer: I wanted to touch…you are mother and daughter working in this dance company together.

How has it been to carry this legacy with each other and provide this opportunity for the community together?

Thulani Davis: I really don’t think people do what we do. And it’s like, yes! But in reality, it’s about like, the actual stories.

When people talk about being diverse and communal, right?   We think about still that black and white binary that still continues to separate us. But when we say “dedicated to people of color and the American experience,” we are literally like, no, we what do you want to bring? What matters to you?

We want to bring forth what is best of you and that individual. Because we are the people. We are all people of color and we are the American experience.