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BRATTLEBORO >> At the launch of its 10th Anniversary Season, Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) partners with The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT) in Northampton, Mass., to co-present a work-in-progress of choreographer Aretha Aoki's latest work, New, created in collaboration with visual and sound artist Ryan MacDonald.

Since 2006, VPL has supported the creative process of over 350 artists working in dance, theater, music and film through its innovative Lab Program. Partnerships with arts organizations like SCDT are key to allowing VPL to respond to each artist's research needs, expand audience reach and create non-conventional pathways for engagement and connection between audience and artist. SCDT programs performances and workshops with established international performance practitioners and offers a dynamic range of dance training in Northampton.

Aoki and MacDonald are based in western Massachusetts and their project was selected for development through VPL's SEED Program. Created in partnership with the performance incubator Studio 303 in Montréal, the SEED Program is part of a growing initiative at VPL to provide more robust creation support and visibility for local choreographers. Aoki and MacDonald will develop their new work through residencies at VPL and Studio 303 and will receive commissioning fees, studio space, and additional resources to support the development and presentation of New.


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Aoki's choreography has been performed in various venues throughout New York City and New England. The New York Times dance listing has described her solos as "contemplative and probing." She often collaborates with MacDonald on the sound score and visual imagery in her work. MacDonald is an award-winning short fiction writer, animator, and composer. The impulse for New comes from an ongoing practice started in 2014 that the artists describe as "letting the ghosts come in the space of performance." To develop New the artists will draw on Aoki's Japanese heritage, family stories and memories to create text and an improvisational movement score to become, as she says, "a medium for the residue of family history."

On Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m., 25 Main Street, 4th Floor, Northampton. Tickets are $10. Reservations can be made by calling SCDT at 413-695-1799.

VPL's SEED Program is supported by grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts' New England States Touring Program, the Vermont Community Foundation's Arts Endowment Fund, the Québec Government Office in Boston and VPL's Creation Fund donors.

Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) is a laboratory for creative research and community engagement. Since 2006, VPL has brought artists of regional, national and international stature to the grange halls, studios and classrooms of rural Vermont through its innovative artist residency program. Last year VPL's community and education programs served more than 1,700 students, young professionals, families and seniors in Windham County through workshops, informal performances and art-making experiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities. www.vermontperformancelab.org

The School of Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT) is comprised of independent and internationally experienced performance artists/movement practitioners who are also innovative teachers. The goal of SCDT is to serve as a hub by maintaining space for the local community and curating performance art of the highest quality by connecting communities on an international scale. SCDT showcases contemporary movement training and performance practices that embrace multiplicity, arouse curiosity, and emphasize personal choice. Central to the school's mission is an abiding respect for the tradition and history of re invention and a directive to continue challenging established ideals. SCDT offers adult and youth programming in dance training that includes modern, ballet, hip hop, contemporary Indian dance, and improvisational techniques. The school creates a space for the creative process by regularly curating performances and workshops with established international performance practitioners. SCDT works collaboratively with Stephanie Maher and the Ponderosa TanzLand Festival outside of Berlin, Kathleen Hermesdorf and Alternativa in SanFrancisco, Jared Williams and The New Movement Collaborative in Boston and the Northampton Community Arts Trust. SCDT is affiliated with the Northampton Community Arts Trust and is working to maintain the space at 25 Main in Northampton as a vibrant community arts space for the greater pioneer valley. www.scdtnoho.com