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Celebrating the arts: UConn’s Jorgensen Center ready for the new season

Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on the UConn campus in Storrs, CT.

Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on the UConn campus in Storrs, CT.

Dylan Cross/Dylan Cross Photographer

Jorgensen Center for the Arts’ director Rodney Rock said the stage was set for one of its biggest shows just before the pandemic forced its closure in March 2020. 

“It was the farewell tour of the Chieftains and we had to close the day before. It was a completely sold-out event. They had been performing the night before in Boston.  It was heartbreaking,” he said. 

Though the University of Connecticut’s Fine Arts venue had gotten the orders to close down, Rock made a last-minute plea to management to make one last exception, but it was no use. 

The facility quickly turned to what many live entertainment venues opted for during the closure — live streaming. 

“Our biggest concern was keeping Jorgensen relevant,” Rock said. 

During the summer of 2020, the venue offered live streaming musical events. It eventually produced eight or nine shows on its digital stage.

In March 2021, the Jorgensen digital stage offered Ben Folds live from Sydney, Australia to much success and a diverse, widespread audience. 

“We had something like 47 states in the U.S. plus 19 countries,” Rock said. “It was a positive step for us, and it really raised the Jorgensen’s visibility.”

When it came time to plan the 2021-22 season, Rock created by in many cases re-booking artists that had to be canceled, though in some cases it wasn’t possible. Some had ended their tours and in the case of the Chieftains, they had retired. 

When it comes to programming, it's “pretty much left up to me,” Rock said. 

“We work very hard to meld the Jorgensen in the fabric of the university,” he said. 

Many of the groups and artists who perform also offer master classes — such as those in classical music or dance.

The venue is often used often throughout the year by various departments for medal ceremonies, honor ceremonies and graduations.

Rock draws on his 20-year tenure as the director to judge what kind of events to include in the center’s programming. The Jorgensen also prides itself on being multi-disciplinary. While other state venues might specialize in Broadway, or other kinds of specific performances, there’s always a variety at the UConn center.

It offers a variety of musical performances, from contemporary pop, classical, dance, world music as well as contemporary programming. 

The Jorgensen particularly offers a very strong chamber music program courtesy of a “wonderful long-time patron,” Rock said, making the Jorgensen one of the very few in the state to offer it.

It also offers a variety of dance companies, from the young and new, to the long-established, such as the Alvin Ailey. A children’s series is also offered on Sundays. 

What Jorgensen does not offer is touring companies of musicals — instead deferring musical performances to its fellow UConn venue, the CT Repertory Theater. 

Upcoming at the Jorgensen is the 50th anniversary of the self-proclaimed rebellious dance company, Pilobolus. Celebrate Pilobolus’ 50th anniversary with Big Five OH! on Friday, Nov. 5 at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on the UConn campus in Storrs.
 
In 1970, a group of Dartmouth College students met in a required dance class. They were terrified to dance in front of the class alone, so they began to dance together. After their graduation, they created a “company without a name” that focused on modern dance choreography that would tell a story with all of their bodies. This was the birth of Pilobolus. 
 
Today, they are known for testing the limits of human physicality.  Based in Washington Depot, Connecticut, they have created and toured over 120 pieces of repertory to more than 65 countries. In 2015, Pilobolus was named one of Dance Heritage Coalition's "Irreplaceable Dance Treasures." 
 
This celebration includes the following: Megawatt, Shizen, Solo from the Empty Suitor, Behind the Shadows, and Day Two.
Doors open at 7 p.m. Performance begins at 8 p.m.

 
Due to the need for continued flexibility surrounding COVID-19 safety precautions, only Fall 2021 event tickets are currently available for purchase at jorgensen.uconn.edu. All Fall 2021 tickets will be sold as General Admission rather than assigned seating. Upon arrival, ushers will assist patrons with finding seats while following necessary social distancing requirements.

Please check the website, jorgensen.uconn.edu, for event updates, discount information, and future livestream event opportunities. (Note: all artists, events, dates, programs and COVID-19 policies are subject to change.) All COVID-related policy and protocol information for Jorgensen events can be found at jorgensen.uconn.edu/online/article/covid-policy
  
All spring 2022 Jorgensen events tickets will go on sale Monday, Dec 6 at 10 am.
 
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. In an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, there are no in-person Box Office hours for Fall 2021. For questions and assistance, please contact the Box Office Manager via email at jorgensen.tickets@uconn.edu or call 860-486-4226.