Plainville program spotlights African-American ballerina who grew up in town

Published on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 17:38


PLAINVILLE - In recognition of Black History Month, the Plainville Historical Society will present a program Saturday with a local African-American history connection.

The free program, “Dance the Dream: Rena Robinson-Steiner,” will be presented by Gail Johnson Williams on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Plainville Historic Center at 29 Pierce St., with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. In addition to presenting highlights of Robinson-Steiner’s life and career, Williams will also share an online interview with her.

“Gail is the Plainville Historical Society’s expert on Plainville’s rich heritage of African-American history,” said Rosemary Morante, publicity co-chair for the Plainville Historical Society. “The program will tell the inspiring story of renowned dancer Rena Robinson who grew up in Plainville. She is the daughter of Norene and Frank Robinson who are longtime residents and very active members of the community.”

Born in Germany while her father was stationed abroad with the military, Robinson-Steiner studied dance from an early age. She was a student at Wheeler School, Plainville Junior High, and then at Watkinson School from which she graduated as valedictorian in 1983. She was with the Hartford Ballet and danced in “The Nutcracker,” in which she was the young Clara in 1978. She went on to perform as principal ballerina with the Hamburg Ballet in Germany and then the Dance Theater of Harlem.

“Throughout her career, she broke many barriers and stereotypes as an African-American in the world of ballet,” said Morante. “After her marriage, Rena also spent time in Africa where she taught dance. Rooted in her Baha’i faith, she has used dance as a means to bring people of all races and ethnicity to become one. She now lives on the West Coast.”

Morante said Robinson-Steiner’s story is an “inspiring” one, which encourages others to follow their dreams.

Coffee and refreshments will be served before and after the program. Elevator access is available.

Programs of the Plainville Historical Society are offered free of charge to all interested persons.

For more information on the Plainville Historical Society, call 860-747-6577, email or visit or like Plainville Historical Society on Facebook.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, , Plainville on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 17:38. Updated: Wednesday, 12 February 2020 17:41.