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Thursday, April 27, 2017

'Breathe' Underwater: An Aquatic Opera at Middlebury College

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:38 PM

  • Courtesy of Gabriel Forestieri
  • From "Breathe" is a website dedicated to speculative definitions of the noun-as-verb "worlding," introduced by philosopher Martin Heidegger in the 1920s. The term is also the name chosen by dancer and choreographer Gabriel Forestieri to describe his practice of outdoor, site-specific movement — on land and under water.

On Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, the Middlebury College natatorium* will be transformed for two performances of "Breathe," a multi-disciplinary and immersive performance made in collaboration with composer Loren Kiyoshi Dempster and writer/visual artist Adrian Jevicki.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eiko Otake Performs 'A Body' at the Moran Plant

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 12:16 PM

Eiko Otake at the Moran Plant - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Eiko Otake at the Moran Plant
Japanese artist Eiko Otake was long known as one half of the husband-and-wife performance team Eiko and Koma. For the past two years, however, Otake, who has lived in New York since 1976, has been going it alone — all over the world. Her ongoing work "A Body in Places" places her dancing body in atypical performance locations, beginning with the irradiated site of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown.

In October 2014, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts hosted the debut exhibition "A Body in Fukushima," featuring exquisite photos by William Johnston of Otake's pilgrimage . In conjunction with this show, Otake developed "A Body in a Station," a site-specific performance in Philadelphia's 30th Street Amtrak Station.

Since that launch, Otake has danced in locales including Hong Kong, Santiago, New York's Fulton Street Station, a library, an observatory and a farmers market. This week she'll add to that list an abandoned industrial building: Burlington's own Moran Plant — aka the city's former generating station.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vermonters Receive NEA Grants, Spring for Joy

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 2:38 PM

NEA grantee AXIS Dance Company (through the Flynn) - COURTESY OF THE FLYNN CENTER
  • Courtesy of the Flynn Center
  • NEA grantee AXIS Dance Company (through the Flynn)
In its spring grant cycle, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded eight grants totaling $893,000 to six Vermont organizations.  The majority of that amount, $718,000, went to the Vermont Arts Council, which in turn provides a variety of grants to individuals and smaller organizations statewide.

The other grantees were the Vermont Folklife Center, the Dorset Theatre Festival, the Flynn Center for the Performing ArtsKingdom County Productions, the Vermont Folklife Center and Weston Playhouse Theatre Company.

Congrats, everybody! The full NEA document here

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Six Vermont Organizations Receive NEA Grants

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 11:10 AM

Performance by Carmelita Tropicana and Ela Troyano - COURTESY OF VERMONT PERFORMANCE LAB AND ELA TROYANO
  • Courtesy of Vermont Performance Lab and Ela Troyano
  • Performance by Carmelita Tropicana and Ela Troyano
In the latest round of arts funding announced last week by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), six Vermont arts organizations were awarded a total of $110,000. Of these groups, four are music, dance or theater related, one is literary and one is both writing and visual arts related (Vermont Studio Center). 

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Liz Lerman on Movement and Finding Artistic Voice

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 5:06 PM

  • Courtesy of Middlebury College
  • Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is a mover and a shaker. To those who know the choreographer’s work, that statement might seem reductive at best, but it’s fitting on more than the obvious level. Lerman, who received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2002, isn’t just interested in physical movement, but in the movement of ideas across disciplinary boundaries. She’s at Middlebury College through Wednesday this week conducting a short residency focusing on just that. Her stay culminates in a lecture tomorrow, November 18, at the Mahaney Center for the Arts Dance Theatre.

Lerman, who is known for working with intergenerational groups of movers, has an open approach to education. In other words, she doesn't believe in forcing her ideas about art upon anyone. “I have a lot of ideas about ways of being in the world, but I feel a lot of those are things [students] have to discover for themselves,” Lerman said in a phone interview. “Sometimes I feel like an old-fashioned trader: I’m trading goods for ideas, delivering information from other parts of the country.”

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The 2015 Governor's Art Awards, and a Missing Grace Potter

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 10:44 AM

Sparky and Peggy Potter with Gov. Peter Shumlin - COURTESY OF VAC/PETER ARTHUR WEYRAUCH
  • Courtesy of VAC/Peter Arthur Weyrauch
  • Sparky and Peggy Potter with Gov. Peter Shumlin
On Monday evening the Vermont Arts Council (VAC), now in its 50th year, hosted the Governor's Arts Awards at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. The council bestowed honor and gratitude upon 10 Vermont artists for their ongoing commitment to creativity in our small corner of the country. Graciousness and ferocity were in ample supply at the event, reflecting the tight-knit community responsible for the state's creative legacy.

Waitsfield singer-songwriter Grace Potter was the event's headliner, so to speak, as the 2015 recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts — the state's highest honor in the creative sector. She was the youngest of the year's award recipients by far. Potter, however, was unable to attend the ceremony, due to a last-minute invitation from First Lady Michelle Obama. The singer was on her way to visit American troops with FLOTUS, along with TV late-night host Conan O'Brien. 

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Vermont's Ernest 'E-Knock' Phillips Competes on 'The Amazing Race'

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Vermont dancer Ernest "E-Knock" Phillips is no stranger to reality television. He's shown off his sizzling moves on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Best Dance Crew." But this summer, Phillips went after something even bigger: the $1 million grand prize on CBS' globe-trotting competition "The Amazing Race." He and his brother, Jin Lao, were one of 11 teams competing on the hit show's 27th season, which hits the air waves on Friday, September 25.

How far around the world did E-Knock get? You'll have to watch to find out. Meanwhile, watch the CBS video embedded here, in which he and Lao introduce themselves and explain why they're after the prize. Phillips describes himself as working "four jobs" and sleeping in his car. He also says he doesn't like flying with his brother — which could cause some ratings-bait friction as they race from one pit stop to the next. For his part, Lao describes Phillips as the "Eddie Murphy" of the duo, because he's seldom at a loss for words.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

With Cofounder Departing, Spielpalast Cabaret Faces the Future

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 9:06 AM

Phinneus Sonin and Lois Trombley - COURTESY OF HEATHER HAYES
  • Courtesy of Heather Hayes
  • Phinneus Sonin and Lois Trombley
Now in its 14th year, Burlington's Spielpalast Cabaret has plenty of sassy, sexy history under its collective garter belt. Inspired by 1930s cabaret performances in Europe, the annual production presents a bevy of dancing, singing beauties and an always-awesome band. True to the Weimar era, Spielpalast mixes in skits that address topical issues — particularly that evergreen one, abuse of power.

It's gratifying to say that this saucy entertainment has become a Vermont institution that in no way, shape or form has anything to do with cows. This year's production — entering its last week at Main Street Landing's Black Box Theatre — offers what one has come to expect from Spielpalast: a freewheeling variety show featuring both borrowed and original music (primarily by musical director Zoe Christiansen) and a spirited band; just enough corny jokes; women whose attitude is at once flirty and don't-fuck-with-me; mesmerizing ensemble dance numbers; and a slightly fatalistic undertone that suggests we're all going to hell in a hand basket so we might as well have fun.

This while everyone's clad in lingerie or costumes that show a sea of tattooed young flesh to excellent advantage. (So ample is the body ink that its various artists ought to have considered handing out business cards during intermission.)

The 2015 production of Spielpalast Cabaret has another undertone: Cofounder Phinneus Sonin has announced it will be his last. "At least as the MC," he says of his juggling, impish impresario character, Maxi.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dancer Ernest 'E-Knock' Phillips Cuts Footloose in New Video

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 1:03 PM

First he danced his heart out in a jail cell to a Bruce Springsteen remix. Now, Vermont dancer Ernest “E-Knock” Phillips is busting moves in an arcade. And Burlington filmmaker Michael Fisher has been there to capture it all.

As Seven Days’ Eva Sollberger documented in a May 2014 installment of “Stuck in Vermont” (below), the dancer and the filmmaker have struck up a fruitful artistic collaboration. Phillips has performed on the shows “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Got Talent”; Fisher, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has made a name for himself with his stylish, evocative short films.

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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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