Stephen Hanna is one of featured stars in the Bushnell production of “Come Fly Away,” opening Tuesday. The show, a dream combination of Twyla Tharp choreographed dance and Frank Sinatra tunes, tracks the emerging relationships of four couples at a nightclub one evening. A former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Hanna also starred in the Broadway production of “Billy Elliot.” Now, as part of the touring production,” he took a break from the show to Spill the Beans with Java.
Q: What was the first Frank Sinatra song you ever heard?
A: It was in Cleveland, “Strangers In The Night” and I didn’t even know who he was. As kids we would make up funny lyrics to the song, but I don’t want to tell you what they were.
Q: Do you have a favorite Frank Sinatra song now?
A: “I Did It My Way”.
Q: How did you end up being a ballet dancer?
A: My father was a ballet dancer with the former National Ballet in Washington D.C. but his parents made him quit his senior year of high school and he went on to work for General Motors. I was drawn to dance when I was three or four. I liked how physical and challenging it was. At seven or eight I got a video of “The Nutcracker” and as soon as I saw that I knew what I wanted to do.
Q: It had to be tough being a teenager and pursuing ballet instead of football or some other sport?
A: I was extremely picked on as a kid. It was a hard time but my dad very supportive. Both of my parents are very supportive and I am very lucky for that.
Q: With reality shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing With The Stars” there is a lot of renewed mainstream interest in dancing. Do you think that helps ballet’s image? Makes it more culturally mainstream?
A: I think ballet has always been mainstream to people who live it and love it. To them it is popular. But I do think the dancing on the reality shows helps its popularity.
Q: How many hours a day do your practice?
A: It depends on the show. Today, I practiced a couple of hours for the show. I try to be a disciplined young man.
Q: I understand you have a Connecticut connection, that you got married here?
A: I did. I got married in Connecticut about a year ago to Bret Shuford. We got on a train in New York City and took it to Greenwich, the first stop. We got married at the town hall, outside there. Luckily the weather was good. We came to Connecticut because our marriage would be legal. After the ceremony we all got back on the train and went back to Manhattan for the reception.
Q: What can the audience expect to see at the show here at the Bushnell?
A: They will see unbelievable dancing from some of the greatest dancers out there now. The combination of the music and the dancing makes you feel like Frank Sinatra is there. Dance fans will get to know more about his music and music fans will get to know more about dancing.
Q: Something no one knows about you?
A: I am really into “Tiny Wings” on my iPhone. I am a master.
Tickets for “Come Fly Away’’, which runs through June 3 at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave, Hartford, range from $17 to $72. Go to bushnell.org for information.
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