For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Barbara Ally
CDA President
Connecticut Dance Alliance announces Debra Collins Ryder as recipient of the 2019 Jill Henderson Award  
HARTFORD, CT – September 17, 2019 –Connecticut Dance Alliance (CDA) is pleased to announce  Debra Collins Ryder as the recipient of the 2019  Jill Henderson Award .

Photo courtesy of Debra Collins Ryder

The Jill Henderson Award is given annually to acknowledge and celebrate service to the Connecticut dance community through contributions in the areas of scholarship, education, and in-kind support to the dance field.  The award is named in honor of former Connecticut Dance Alliance board
president and Distinguished Achievement in Dance award recipient Jill Henderson, who spearheaded the Alliance’s Dance History Project. 

Ryder will be honored during CDA’s annual awards ceremony on Sunday, October 6. Recipients of the Distinguished Achievement in Dance Award and the newly-created CDA Jump Start Award will also be recognized at the ceremony. 

Ryder, a Philadelphia native who resides in Farmington, began her professional ballet career in New York City before joining the Hartford Ballet, under the direction of Michael Uthoff. She traveled extensively with the company throughout the United States, Latin America and China and was featured in many full-length ballets including  The Nutcracker Coppelia Dracula , and  Alice in Wonderland . Since 2006, Ms. Ryder has been a member of The Hartt School faculty, teaching ballet, pointe, and dance history, and has choreographed several original works. In 2013, Ryder was honored with the University of Hartford’s Sustained Excellence inTeaching Award for part-time faculty. Prior to her arrival at The Hartt School, Ryder co-directed the Eastern Connecticut Ballet and taught ballet at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. She graduated with honors from Virginia Intermont College with a degree in Ballet Teaching and was on full scholarship at the American Ballet Center (the school of the Joffrey Ballet). Recently, she served as Dance History Consultant for the Connecticut Dance Alliance’s exhibit  Connecticut Dances: A Visual History , which opened January 2017.
Photo courtesy of Debra Collins Ryder

The 2019 Connecticut Dance Alliance awards ceremony, reception and performance showcase will be held Sunday, October 6, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Carol Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities on the campus of the University of Saint Joseph, 1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford. Tickets can be purchased at
About Connecticut Dance Alliance (CDA)
Connecticut Dance Alliance, Inc. (CDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of dance in all its forms and serving the needs of the statewide dance community. Since 1999, CDA has created and presented numerous events such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Dance – a day celebrating African-American dance traditions, CDA Distinguished Achievement in Dance Awards, Healthy Dancer Seminars and workshops on Planning a College Career in dance. In 2011, CDA founded and developed a successful summer scholarship annual competition, the  Connecticut Classic , a competition for pre-professional classical ballet students. CDA also administers the Elena Delvecchio Rusnak Dance Education Scholarship. CDA’s current project,  The Dance History Project.  Through grassroots networking, the project endeavors to capture and share, through the art of photography and scholarly writing, a cultural and historical documentation of the rich and vibrant dance heritage in Connecticut. Using the 2,000 images submitted by the dance community, the curated  Connecticut Dance exhibition has toured the state since 2017. In addition to the  Dance History Project , other CDA initiatives include the further development of regional network consortiums to increase communication, partnerships, and opportunities for Connecticut’s dance community; dance education programs; and the new statewide dance resource database.

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