Dance Festival offers excitement through movement

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BRATTLEBORO — Exciting is the word for the Seventh Annual Southern Vermont Dance Festival.

"We are excited this year because we analyzed previous years' events and we have drawn out the most popular, highlighting the strongest part of the festival," said founder Brenda Siegel.

This year's festival begins the morning of Thursday, July 18 and continues with a lineup of over 90 classes, four ticketed dance concerts, lectures, and free community events in and around downtown Brattleboro through July 21.  The first ticketed performance of the festival is the Opening Gala, a Southern Vermont Dance Festival event at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Latchis Theatre, 50 Main St., 

To make this year's festival more exciting, Siegel and other festival officials - scheduling director Tasha Warshaw, fourth-year intern Zoe Flagollet, second-year intern Jorgie Ingram, and first-year intern May Minard - made sure there is something for everyone, keeping in mind which time of day worked best for the community.

"The whole festival is optimized to make it the most exciting and easiest for the community to engage in. We are pretty excited," Siegel said.

Honing in on Thursday's events, the Opening Gala will feature an array of professional dances choreographed by Toni Nagy, Kenzie Finn, Erin McDonough, Sonia Plumb, and more. Siegel said this will be an especially fun event for families, as will a new activity following the gala: Supersize Game Night at the Food Truck Round Up at Retreat Farm, with giant, exaggerated games fashioned after Twister, Shutes and Ladders, and bowling. 

On Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre, a number of performances by new and returning artists include The Sonia Plumb Dance Company of Hartford, Conn., a special piece choreographed by Janet Wong, the associate artistic director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and a piece choreographed by Merce Cunningham, being performed courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust in honor of the Cunningham Centennial Celebration.

There will also be a performance by Siegel's IBIT Dance Company and a performance by Bridget Struthers, owner of the Brattleboro School of Dance.

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It is no secret that Siegel's favorite part of the festival is Saturday's Midsummer's Night Picnic and Promenade, this year being held at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane at 6:30 p.m. on July 20. This outdoor event includes food catered by the Four Columns with gluten-free and vegetarian selections available, live music and a professional performance tour on the grounds around the restaurant.

"What is exciting this year is the cohesive nature of the event by working with the Four Columns. Dancer Julie Muskat returns, a long-time favorite, plus several new artists," Siegel said.

Tickets need to be purchased in advance for this event so the Four Columns can prepare the food.

On average, SVDF participants take two to four classes, choosing from a variety of classes catering to all levels from the novice to the professional, noted on the schedule. Feedback from participants in past years showed that they really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with other dancers.

Not a dancer? There are also a number of yoga classes presented by local and visiting instructors.

The classes or events take place at the BSD, the SoBo Studio, and on the Latchis stage. Free community events will be held at Pliny Park, 118 Elliot St and throughout the town.

The Arts Council of Windham County, the festival's fiscal sponsor, will also be set up to gather information from the community on what they would be most interested in seeing take place in town. Photographer Ezra Distler is doing a "popup" event at 118 Elliot as part of the Southern Vermont Dance festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 20 and 21 as part of the "Brattleboro Faces Art Project."

To attend paid events, tickets can be purchased online, and signup for classes is also online. Siegel said people "can register the day of (the festival) with us to fill out paperwork and pick up welcome packets at the registration area, which is 118 Elliot St. Tickets for shows as well as festival passes are available online currently and will also be at registration beginning Thursday." Ticket prices increase at the door.

For a complete rundown of the schedule, visit southernvermontdancefestival.com. It is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance because the prices increase at the door. Festival tickets range from single performance tickets to Full Immersion Passes. Tickets are also on sale on the website or look for Southern Vermont Dance Festival on Facebook.


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