Much Ado about Daisy Infantas
By Theresa M. MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate
Daisy Infantas, whose credits have ranged from the tragic ingénue Ophelia in Breakdancing Shakespeare: Hamlet to the mischievous, Lara Croft-like dancing thief in Darko Tresnjak’s The Comedy of Errors, is happy to be back at Hartford Stage. The University of Hartford psychology major welcomes the opportunity to balance her two loves, acting and dancing, in Tresnjak’s highly-anticipated midwinter production of the early Shakespeare comedy.
Infantas, a graduate of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, has danced since she was eight years old – starting with the salsa, then the merengue, finally to breakdancing and hip hop. She studied theatre throughout high school, performing in productions of the musicals Carousel and Ragtime. After graduating, Infantas applied for an apprenticeship with the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Neighborhood Studios for the chance to participate in Hartford Stage Education’s popular Breakdancing Shakespeare. The summer program gave Infantas the opportunity to hone her craft by combining her love of both acting and dancing. In her first year with the Breakdancing Shakespeare program, at the age of 19, she was cast in the pivotal role of Ophelia for the 2015 summer production of Hamlet.
As a newcomer to the Breakdancing Shakespeare program, Infantas was honored to portray the character of Ophelia. Nina Pinchin, Associate Director of Education for Hartford Stage and Director of Breakdancing Shakespeare, said of Infantas, “I was immediately struck by her charm, energy and work ethic. As a psychology major in school, Daisy was interested in Ophelia’s mental health struggles and brought real care and depth to her characterization in our production of Hamlet.”
Performing in front of sell-out crowds didn’t phase Infantas: she said that being on stage felt like “an adrenaline rush.” In a blog post for Neighborhood Studios, Infantas wrote, “Stepping on stage to perform is a very overwhelming feeling. Your heart starts to pound extremely fast, but the moment you step out into the spotlight, everything stops. You can hear nothing but your own breath as you say the first line. It is in that moment that you let the audience feel what you feel.”
Infantas credits Breakdancing Shakespeare with strengthening her desire to perform, helping her polish her dance and acting skills, and teaching her to focus on character development in order to understand the meaning behind specific dance routines. So great was her love for the program, Pinchin notes that Infantas returned as an intern to Breakdancing Shakespeare last summer to assist the cast and crew for its 10th anniversary production of Romeo & Juliet.
Since performing in Breakdancing Shakespeare, Infantas has performed with Hartford’s Studio860 dance team, Team 860, and Fenomena, the University of Hartford’s Hip Hop Dance Team. She auditioned for The Comedy of Errors at the urging of Pinchin. “I encouraged Daisy to audition because she is one of the most talented and expressive performers ever to come through our Breakdancing Shakespeare program (and that is really saying A LOT),” Pinchin explains. “She is also simply a pleasure to work with in every way, and I am so thrilled that she is continuing her Hartford Stage career in this winter’s The Comedy of Errors.”
Infantas, who envisions future roles that fuse Shakespearean acting and dancing, was excited to learn that The Comedy of Errors would be incorporating dance. She was even more thrilled at the opportunity to once again work with Tresnjak, who provides coaching for Breakdancing Shakespeare’s actors.
“Darko helped me develop my role as Ophelia, and seeing his work was incredible,” Infantas recalls. “I’m so happy that he chose me to be part of the dance ensemble for The Comedy of Errors. It’s something that I will never forget.”