Our History

Olivia Ilano-Davis, the Founder of Spectrum In Motion

Spectrum in Motion was founded in 1982 in the Pioneer Valley/5 College Community of Western Massachusetts. Yet, for more than two decades the Company has made Hartford its home.

Spectrum in Motion is a gathering of people from all walks of life: those who danced professionally and have moved onto other things; students of dance; instructors of dance; those who supported dance; those who never danced.
But one thing that unites us all is the firm belief that dance should once again be a part of every day life.
Come and be a part of our journey in telling and sharing the stories of our lives through dance.

Our mission is twofold:

1) we create, perform and present the highest quality original, professional, contemporary Dance that celebrates the music and movement of the world’s cultures;

2) we provide an exemplary dance education for Hartford’s children who could not otherwise experience this enriching learning experience.

Equally important is the vision of the work that celebrates our cultural diversity and tells life stories using music and dance to transcend the artificial barriers that divide us: age, race, language, gender, economics, and the very notion of “neighborhood” that often separates us one from another.   We strive to use the arts to build community in all that we do.

The participants are drawn from the population we serve in Hartford where 74% of the children we serve come from single-parent or guardian households. Most of our children are living at or below the poverty level. The children we serve are: African American 65.2%; Latino 7.66%; Mixed Race 27.2%; 74.2% Female; and 25.8% Male. Our program also provides services to parents and guardians.

We work not only with the children, but we work diligently to engage our families in the work their children are doing.

We point with pride to a self-formed group called “Parents in Motion:” Although collectively they have sparse financial resources they work together to provide helping hands in many capacities: working on our fundraising events, carpooling, helping to prepare meals for our children, making costumes. In so doing they find themselves part of a new community and support network that they created.

We offer a multi-cultural dance education program known as Stretching for Life, serving nearly 400 young people ages 4 to 21 each year with dance classes suitable for each age group, by following sound principles of sequential learning for dance.   We offer twenty-two class hours per week during the school year and forty hours per week during the summer.

During the summer, we offer a full day six – week intensive dance education program known as Instruments of Culture, providing cultural enrichment and vocabulary building to enhance literacy skills and prevent summer learning loss. We typically hire 6 – 10 teens to serve as interns during the summer. The summer program offers a seventh week of programming exclusively for teens.

Additionally, the original choreography presented by the Company is artistically compelling and diverse. The work includes an original commission by Asylum Hill Congregational Church for new work built on Rutter’s “Gloria” as part of the church’s annual Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival that has been presented to great acclaim each year since. This commission led to several including the Greater Hartford Arts Council, CONCORA, Immanuel Congregational Church and Charter Oak Cultural Center, among others. The Company strives to present full-length concerts, but funding restrictions have curtailed the performance schedule.

Our priority has been and will continue to be providing educational programming for Hartford’s youth.

Celebrating 35 years of making dance, growing dancers and building community!