Rural Arts Collaborative Hosts Ballet Vermont for Special Performance

photo by Idena Beach
Artistic Director of Ballet Vermont, Chatch Pregger dances with Anna Goodling in the 2018 performance of “Bees and Friends” at Hiland Hall Gardens in Bennington.

by Sarah Mutrux, Community Journalist

CRAFTSBURY – Ballet Vermont will present the “Bees and Friends” festival on Thursday, August 4, outdoors on the Craftsbury Common green at 3:30 p.m. This Farm to Ballet Project performance depicts bees, bugs, and birds and is set to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” The ballet explores topics of pollination, metamorphoses, integrated pest management, and bioluminescence. The 45-minute excerpt of “Bees & Friends” is made possible by a partnership with the Rural Arts Collaborative. The performance is free and open to the public.

Ballet Vermont’s performances regularly raise funds and awareness for small-scale Vermont agriculture, working with many nonprofits around the state. The August 4 performance on Craftsbury Common is a special collaboration that brings this interpretation of a classic art form to everyone in the community for free. The performance will be followed by horse-drawn carriage rides provided by Paul Ruda of Danville.

In 2015, Ballet Vermont’s Artistic Director Chatch Pregger and Executive Director Katie Decker had an idea to bring an unlikely art form to rural Vermont towns. Ballet, typically rehearsed and performed on specially constructed wooden floors that absorb the impact of jumping, is a highly specialized form of dance. Specific steps and gestures are danced on a special shoe called a pointe shoe, and, until the Farm to Ballet Project, it was assumed that the pristine environment of the dance studio and the stage were a prerequisite for ballet. Ballet Vermont has proven otherwise.

The Farm to Ballet Project reinterprets classical ballet choreography to tell the story of Vermont’s sustainable agriculture, past, present, and future using farms as the backdrop and grass as the stage. Dancers bring an ecosystem alive, offering everyone in the community a new way to explore concerns about the earth, soil, and agriculture. Performances have taken place on many small farms since its inception including Sandiwood Farm in Wolcott in 2022, and risen to popularity with annual performances at Shelburne Farms. There is one final opportunity to catch a performance this summer at Valley Dream Farm in Cambridge, on July 30.

More information about the last performance of the season along with an informative interview about Bees and Friends with choreographer Katie Deck can be found at ruralartsvt.org, and more information about auditions and lessons with Ballet Vermont is available at balletvermont.org.