Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Steel Cut Theatre and Dance Deliberation Put on The Show

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Four performers put on The Show. - COURTESY OF JAMES MOORE
  • Courtesy of James Moore
  • Four performers put on The Show.

There's a modern dance show coming to Burlington performing arts venue Off Center for the Dramatic Arts this Friday and Saturday. And not just any show. The Show.

Choreographed and performed by James Moore and Frankie Binder, the couple behind Steel Cut Theatre, in collaboration with Kelsey Wilson and Annie Brady of the newly christened local dance duo Dance Deliberation, The Show is a 70-minute movement arts production with 14 original choreographed dances and maybe a hidden "bonus track." Two of those dances are presented through video.

The four performers first collaborated during an Eat My Art Out event last year. Buoyed by positive audience feedback, they've been preparing The Show's eclectic, zany and occasionally serious movement pieces for months.

"We are interested in using movement to push through the mundane to find something real and true, sometimes serious, sometimes silly," writes Moore in the event's press release. "We find inspiration in music and have been exploring ways to support or actively fight against certain songs."

Beyond that, leave any preconceived expectations by the wayside. "There are dances that are more serious, and there are dances that invite you to laugh," Moore says. "We want to keep everyone entertained, and if you don’t like something, don’t worry, it won’t be there very long!" 

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

'NC Dances VT' Takes to Three Stages This Week

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 12:40 PM

"Tract" choreographed by Paul Besaw - COURTESY OF JEFF HERWOOD
  • Courtesy of Jeff Herwood
  • "Tract" choreographed by Paul Besaw
It's a small-world coincidence that the heads of two Vermont college dance programs got their starts in the same place: Christal Brown of Middlebury College and Paul Besaw of the University of Vermont both began their contemporary dance careers at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Though they studied at different times, they shared a teacher: acclaimed modern dancer and choreographer Jan Van Dyke.

This week, the three will unite on three stages in the Green Mountain State for "NC Dances VT." The evening-length performance features works choreographed by Besaw, Brown and Van Dyke. 

The show comes to Middlebury College tonight, September 18; to the University of Vermont on Friday, September 19; and to the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio in Montpelier on Saturday, September 20.

The UVM performance is sponsored by the Lane Series, marking the first time the Lane and the Department of Music and Dance have collaborated on a show. It's also the first time in more than 20 years that the Lane has presented dance. Director Natalie Neuert says more such partnerships are to come.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Common Ground Center Comes Full Circle With a Tribute to Rachel Bissex

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 2:25 PM

  • Common Ground Center
  • Rachel Bissex

When singer-songwriter Rachel Bissex, a beloved fixture of the Burlington-area folk and jazz scenes, died of breast cancer in 2005, she was mourned by her family and many friends and fans. And her death was strongly felt at Camp Common Ground, the “intergenerational family camp” that she helped to found in 1994. Bissex was not only one of the camp’s organizers but a warm and friendly presence whose musical performances were enjoyed by attendees.

“Unlike many other singer-songwriters, who tend to be a little shy, [Rachel] was really outgoing,” says Jim Mendell, co-director of what is now called the Common Ground Center, and another of its cofounders. “She’d be singing on a porch and all of a sudden have 10 or 15 people singing on the porch with her. She was a really generous person who made everybody’s lives happier and more musical.”

This weekend, the Common Ground Center will host “Coming Full Circle,” a “mini music festival” that will celebrate Bissex’s life and mark the camp’s 20th year. 

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vermont Legislature to Proclaim 2015 Year of the Arts

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Bread and Puppet Theater
  • Bread and Puppet Theater

Stop the presses! The Vermont Legislature is going to declare 2015 Year of the Arts tomorrow morning — Thursday, May 1, at 9:30 a.m. — and the Vermont Arts Council will be given an unlimited budget!

Imagine the funds that the agency will be able to shower on the state's artists — which, as near as we can tell, is about every third person. So totally awesome, and not a moment too soon, because, perhaps you've heard, artists are starving.

OK, I made up that part about unlimited budget. For a moment I got the VAC confused with the Pentagon. And most of Vermont's artists are probably not starving. (Such as Bread and Puppet, above, chosen as a totally random example of Vermont artiness.)

Asked about any possible financial windfall that might result from the legislature's proclamation, the ever-good-natured Alex Aldrich, ED of the arts council, said simply, "Wouldn't that be nice?" Well, he also said he dreams about waking up one morning and finding the Golden Dome over the Vermont Arts Council. I don't know what he meant by that. Maybe he would melt it down for cash?  Well, a guy can dream.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Middlebury Hosts Weekend Events to Celebrate 'The Place of Dance'

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 9:01 AM

  • Courtesy of Alan Kimara Dixon
  • Andrea Olsen

If you ask Andrea Olsen, dance has a role far beyond the stage or the studio.

"Since I teach in both environment and dance at Middlebury, I’m very interested in the way that place affects your movement and also how dance fits into the larger cultural matrix of the age," says the longtime dancer and Middlebury College professor. "My own personal feeling is that dance is essential to understanding human beings at this time on the planet, rather than being something extra or nonessential."

Olsen recently published a third book, The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making (Wesleyan University Press), coauthored by movement artist Caryn McHose. This weekend, the college hosts several events to mark the occasion.

A free dance performance featuring work by 11 artists interviewed or otherwise featured in the book is on Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m.; Olsen and McHose teach a "Finding Your Feet" workshop on Saturday, April 5, 2-4 p.m.; and a corresponding photography exhibit goes on display at Middlebury's Davis Library.

"My fear is that because there's 'dance' in the title, people who don't feel they are dancers would feel it's not for them," Olsen admits.

That would be to miss the point entirely.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

UVM's Orchesis Dance Company Hosts Spring Showcase

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Orchesis Dance Company - COURTESY OF KELSEY DEWITT
  • Courtesy of Kelsey Dewitt
  • Orchesis Dance Company

Some Vermonters spend cold winter nights — or cold spring nights — indoors watching movies, reading books or listening to music. Others prefer braving bone-chilling temperatures and getting outdoors to embrace the season before the arrival of April weather. At the University of Vermont, a group of 15 women has found movement the best way to get warm — indoors. They spend countless hours every week rehearsing their chosen form of expression: dance. They are Orchesis.

The student-run Orchesis Dance Company began at UVM in the 1960s. This Saturday, March 29, its current members will showcase their best moves, according to an announcement from Orchesis president Alyssa Jones.

 The dancers rely on each other for inspiration. After spending their mornings and afternoons in class, they come together to share their ideas for new dances. There are no coaches or teachers guiding the way. Instead, these women express through movement whatever lives inside them. Any member of the club can choreograph a dance to any song and in any style she chooses. Watch a sample rehearsal here.

The result of this autonomy and individuality promises, says Jones, “a dynamic and varied showcase” for the audience to enjoy. She adds, “No two shows are ever alike.” Fourteen original pieces will be performed on Saturday.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Following Successful Film About Living With Autism, Mark Utter Writes On

Posted By on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Mark Utter with Emily Anderson in 2012 - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • FIle: Matthew Thorsen
  • Mark Utter with Emily Anderson in 2012
For someone who cannot speak verbally, Mark Utter has had an awful lot to say lately. The 49-year-old Colchester man, who was featured in an April 11, 2012, Seven Days cover story, "Utterly Mark: A Vermonter with autism makes his inner voice heard through film,” has been traveling around the state screening his film, I Am in Here, most recently on Wednesday night in Montpelier as part of the 2014 Green Mountain Film Festival.

Utter has screened his film at least 20 times since it premiered in Burlington on March 16, 2013. The 30-minute autobiographical movie, which Utter wrote and animated himself with help from his facilitator, Emily Anderson of Vermont’s Awareness Theater Company  is typically followed by a one-hour question-and-answer session with the audience.

Those discussions present some unique challenges for the nonverbal Utter, who communicates with Anderson’s help with a method known as facilitated communication (FC) or “supported typing.” Essentially, Anderson sits at Utter’s side with one hand gently resting on his arm while he hunts and pecks at a computer keyboard. As Utter explained in 2012, having Anderson by his side, occasionally offering him verbal cues and encouragement, helps focus his brain on the task at hand.

During the Q&A sessions with his audience, Utter’s words are projected onto a screen behind him while he types. As the audience discovers, the process can take several minutes to produce just two or three sentences. So why use words projected on a screen and not, say, a computer-generated voice like the kind made famous by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking?

“If it’s just going to be this funny computer voice coming out, it doesn’t really show Mark’s work at it,” Anderson explains. Seeing Utter’s words appear on screen, including his frequent typos and corrections, she says, shows, in real time, just how much effort goes into his writing.

And Utter has been doing quite a lot of writing since he completed his film. Last month, he was invited to give a presentation before a fine arts thesis class at New York University. There, Utter provided about 10 pages of recent journal entries for the class’ review and critique. 

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Montréal en Lumière Festival Beckons, All Week Long

Posted By on Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 3:08 PM

  • Courtesy of Montreal en Lumiere
  • Air France Ferris wheel

I had intended to drive northward today for a taste of the mega-event called Montréal en Lumière  But, dommage, both of my traveling companions begged off. And since I didn't want to go alone, this is what I am missing. A gigantic Ferris wheel, right in the middle of St. Catherine Street. 

I have an inexplicable love of Ferris wheels. The one pictured here, courtesy of Air France, only looks this way at night, of course. But day or night, what a great view from its top! Well, maybe later this week.

Montréal en Lumière offers way more than a colorful carnival ride, to be sure. There's also something called an "interactive urban super-slide," and scattered around the Place des Festivals are promised "wow" moments from various special effects, including a "cube" that uses lasers, smoke and lighting to produce "multidimensional" hallucinations. Or something like that. I'm wowed just thinking about it. Three-story projections and other light-related stimuli justify the festival's name — and these are all part of the free outdoor site.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Curves in the Capital' Brings Holiday Heat to Montpelier

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 1:51 PM


Here's something to help you shake off the shivers. Green Mountain Cabaret is performing tonight at Montpelier's Lost Nation Theater in a one-night-only, 21+ burlesque show. And if you don't feel like shaking — or shimmying — Alexa Luthor and Her Sugar Shakers will do it for you. And then some.

Formerly living in Chicago, Luthor returned to her native Vermont a couple years back and brought professional burlesque along with her, not to mention her husband, MC Leif Peepers. Since then, she's trained other dancers in the North Country, some of whom will be entertaining central Vermont hippies, er, Montpelierites tonight — Trixie Hawke Siouxsie Chrisse, Aeshna Mairead, Swizzle Schtick and Merrique Hysteric.

And if any readers are expecting, I strongly suggest you consider one of these names for your impending child.

LNT actually said in a press release that Green Mountain Cabaret is "Ass-tronomically talented," so what more do you need to know? Except that tickets are $15 and the show starts at 8 p.m. tonight and you can only go if you are 21 or older.

Photo by Matthew Thorsen accompanied a story about Luthor in February, which you can read here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dancing With Justin Timberlake: A Vermonter's Dream Comes True

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM


Former U-32 student Lindsay Richardson danced her dream onstage last night with pop megastar Justin Timberlake at MTV's Video Music Awards. The best, and lengthiest, vid we found on the internets is on Perez TV right here. Or you can watch the Timberlake sequence here, or the entire broadcast on demand here.

Richardson started at age 12 studying hip-hop dance with Vermonter Sarah Cover, who runs the Urban Dance Complex in Williston. (As of September 1, it will be called the Urban Complex: Dance and Fitness.) With the help of Cover's New York and Los Angeles dance connections, Richardson got a leg up in the highly competitive industry. She moved to LA at 18 and, according to her Facebook page, is represented by the Go2 Talent Agency.

On Facebook before last night's show, Richardson let the cat out of the bag with these comments:

After a few of what felt like long weeks of secrets, I am VERY excited to say that one of my biggest dreams has come true. ... I could not be more honored to work with such an inspiring and humble human being and group of individuals. Tune in tomorrow and catch me and the most amazing group of dancers perform with Justin Timberlake on the VMA's!!!

In this "Stuck in Vermont" from 2007, Richardson spoke to Eva Sollberger about her aspirations.

Congratulations, Lindsay! Since one of your biggest dreams has come to pass, we can't wait to see what you do next.

Photo of Lindsay Richardson courtesy of her Facebook page.

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