By Matt Kiernan
Professor and Dance Program Director Catherine J. Fellows has been awarded the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award by the Connecticut Dance Alliance for the contributions she’s provided to the art of dancing.
“It’s very interesting to win an award for what you love to do so it was very easy,” said Fellows.
The award of prestigious acclaim is only given to a select number of members in the dance community and has only been awarded to 17 others since the organization’s establishment in 1999.
Much of the dance program at CCSU has been designed by Fellows since she became a full-time faculty member in 1976. She has dedicated herself to choreography and teaching students the different forms of dance while putting together performances.
“What makes me the happiest is being able to go in and work with our students,” she said.
She asserts that art is a necessity and not a luxury and that being able to move around should make all people happy. Being happy and healthy are the two things she feels people need to have a successful life and that by carrying dancing into the world it will bring balance into it.
Fellows is one of the three awardees honored, the other two being prominent members of the field of dance Kathy Borteck Gersten and Olivia Sabulao Llano-Davis. Gersten is the Associate Artistic Director of the Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble in Hartford and Davis is the Artistic Director of Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble in Hartford and Stretching for Life Dance Program.
While making attempts at improving the education system, Fellows is on the CT Dance Task Force Committee, which worked for the approval of CT Dance Teacher Certification. CCSU is a school that offers the certification and many of the students who graduate pursue a career in teaching dance in the New England area.
Performances in the CCSU dance works Gratitude and Migrant Mother have included Fellows. Her choreography skills have led her to create her own ballets that include Barefoot and Fullswing.
Bringing outside sources and teachers has been a major part in the contributions that she’s brought to the school. Renowned dancers and choreographers have made appearances at the university that include the Martha Graham Dance Ensemble, Merce Cunningham and Hubbard Street.
Included in the group of past winners of the award are Jennifer Tipton, a renowned master of lighting for theatre stages and Martha Myers who has been a host of the American Dance Festival.
The ceremony was held on Sep. 19 at the Mort and Irma Handle Performing Arts Center in Hartford.