BRATTLEBORO -- In the last year, IBIT Dance Company has made great strides.
A Brattleboro-based dance company which provides a professional troupe and pre-professional training for committed students ages 12-24, IBIT has already performed at the Massachusetts Dance Festival in Amherst, Mass., the Rhythm Festival at Headroom Stages, the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, New England Youth Theatre and Putney Vaudeville. In addition, the company's growing training programs now number 17 students, who are beginning to get noticed and earn places in high-level dance programs.
Now, IBIT, which stands for Intrinsic Beauty of Invisible Things, is embarking on its first-ever spring tour, a three-stop, three-day whirlwind that culminates with a performance and gala benefit on Saturday in Brattleboro.
After tour stops Thursday at 7:30 p.m., at East Street Studios in Northampton, Mass., and Friday at 8 p.m., at The Dance Complex in Cambridge, Mass., IBIT returns home Saturday for a performance at 4:30 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre, followed by a Bring in the Spring Benefit starting at 6:45 p.m., at the River Garden.
The performance features original choreography by IBIT Dance Company Director Brenda Siegel, Donlin Foreman and Billbob Brown, as well as IBIT student Tasha Warshaw.
"This performance really shows off the versatility of this group of dancers," said Siegel, who co-founded IBIT with Amy Softic. "These dancers are really amazing dancers, and they deserve the recognition. They work really hard."
Tickets to the performance are $16, $12 for students and can be reserved at www.IBITDance.com.
The formal benefit includes hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, a photo exhibit of dance images by Kiqe Bosch and Shanta L. and live jazz by David Ross and Friends. Tickets for the benefit are $35 at www.ibitdance.com in advance (that price includes admission to the Latchis performance) or $40 at the door. Proceeds benefit the IBIT Dance scholarship fund.
Those funds are needed, since 95 percent of the dancers in the IBIT training program receive some sort of assistance.
The IBIT company and programs are geared toward area dancers who want to supplement what they've learned at other fine dance schools with programs geared to the more committed student.
"We're not a dance school, we're a training program," said Siegel.
Currently, IBIT's offerings include a three-member professional company and three levels of pre-professional training -- Introductory, low intermediate/intermediate and intermediate/advanced.
Programs focus on technique and choreography and also include trips to dance performances, master classes and visits by guest instructors. The program also focuses on other aspects of a career in dance, including conditioning and arts administrative skills like fundraising and tour planning.
"We talk about it in a real way. We talk about what being a dancer is," said Siegel. "We're not just learning about being dancers, we're learning how to be human beings. You really learn life."
For example, current company members rallied to support a fellow IBIT dancer who had had a death in the family. They're also working on an evening-length piece about cancer awareness and incorporate explorations of issues of social justice and activism into other pieces.
Acceptance into IBIT is by audition. For more information about programs and about Saturday's performance and gala benefit, visit ibitdance.com.