Farm to Ballet: Celebrating farms through dance
BRATTLEBORO >> Now in its second year, the Farm to Ballet project celebrates the rich farming culture of Vermont through dance in performances on local farms throughout the state. The farmer's story is told by dancers to a classical music repertoire on a grassy stage. The project, directed by Chatch Pregger, is a full-length production that reinterprets classical ballet choreography to tell the story of a Vermont farm from spring to fall. He said, "The Farm to Ballet Project is a dance collaborative designed to celebrate the unique culture of New England farms while promoting a vibrant, local, and sustainable food system and introducing new audiences to the beauty of classical ballet."
Pregger has been teaching ballet to adults for nine years at Spotlight dance studio in South Burlington where Farm to Ballet was born out of a day class starting in a tree house and antsy students who wanted to learn the experience of performing in front of an audience. Pregger's passion for sustainable and organic farming and his students' newly found enjoyment of performing outdoors evolved into the idea of a performance about food as a way to support farmers while experiencing live performing to a classical repertoire.
This collaboration also gives the project a purpose – to celebrate Vermont's farming culture while expanding classical ballet's audience. And for Pregger it helps spread the message that we need to be more purposeful in our food supply and to support and honor the work of our local farmers and food movement.
Farmers were interviewed who in turn told their stories of the rituals of farming through the seasons. From that, Pregger depicted the seasons via classical ballet pieces featuring Vivaldi's Four Seasons, the ballet "Giselle," and other pieces for an hour-long performance set in a backdrop of beautiful Vermont scenery. Ballerinas and ballerinos dance as spinning lettuce, scratching chickens and dancing cows in ingenious costume, taking the audience through the seasons.
This is the second year for Farm to Ballet, a take on the Farm to Table movement. They received such great response that they are doing it again this year. The 20-plus members of the dance group is a mix of professional dancers including Lara Tant, Megan Stearns, Drew Grant and Avi Waring as principal dancers, plus Pregger's students. They have already taken this outdoor ballet to six farms in Vermont and for their next-to-last performance of the summer they will be at the Harris Hill Hill Ski Jump Field on Cedar Street on Saturday,Aug. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. Garden tours and food will be available beginning at 5 p.m. and remember to bring a folding chair. Each show benefits a different farm and Brattleboro's show hosted by the Retreat Farm benefits the Barnyard and the Farm to Ballet Project. Retreat Farm, Ltd. is a new nonprofit. Our mission is to preserve Retreat Farm's historic lands and farmstead while advancing a healthier, more resourceful greater Brattleboro community.
Tickets are free for children 12 and under and $15 for adults (13 and up). Limited edition Retreat Farm merchandise will be available! More details and tickets for sale at retreatfarm.org/ballet.
Pregger said that as a group they want to be a benefit to Vermont and to the community of dancers. He concluded by saying, "I'm excited to come to Brattleboro. I spent time here as a kid, It is a great community and a great art community. I am glad to come to Brattleboro and contribute to it. The art that I have seen there has always moved me – I hope the art that I bring to Brattleboro will enrich Brattleboro too."
Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.
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