Art Notes: The Junction Dance Festival focuses on public participation

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-10-2024 6:00 PM

For a long time, the primary venue for dance in these parts was Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center.

The college incubated Pilobolus, the celebrated, New England-based modern dance company, which itself produced spinoff companies that make regular stops at the Hop.

But something has shifted, and it isn’t just the temporary closure of the Hop for renovation and expansion. A homegrown dance community is on the rise, and the steady expansion of The Junction Dance Festival, which this year runs from this weekend to next, seems the plainest example. This year’s festival is focused less on performance than on public participation, and the festival’s organizers have spread it out over time and multiple venues.

The festival starts Saturday with a daylong series of dance workshops at Lebanon Ballet School, starting with a 9 a.m. qi gong class and ending with a 3:30 p.m. dance improvisation class. Some of the classes are for specific age groups, so look closely and register in advance at the festival’s website, thejunctiondancefestival.org, but all the July 13 workshops are free.

Next week, the festival will screen three dance films at 7 p.m. on July 16 in the Briggs Opera House, most notably, “The Quarry Project,” a film of the landmark performances of Chelsea choreographer Hannah Dennison’s work in a disused central Vermont granite quarry last summer, and “Drip,” directed and choreographed by Strafford native Quinn Thomashow. Admission is $10 at the door, free for kids under 12.

Workshops resume on July 18 with dance movement therapy at the Bugbee Senior Center at 10 a.m. and an intergenerational movement workshop for children ages 7-10 and seniors at Norwich Public Library at 11 a.m.

Next Saturday, July 20, features another long slate of workshops, at the ballet school and at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, but it also brings the first performances.

“Thumbelina,” an original, 40-minute composition by Avant Vermont Dance, based in southern Windsor County, starts at 11 a.m. in White River Junction’s Lyman Point Park. Admission is by donation.

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In keeping with the wide-ranging workshops, the festival’s two evening performances, at 7 p.m. on July 20 and 5 p.m. July 21, will showcase a variety of dance idioms.

Saturday night’s show features everything from flamenco to contemporary ballet, while the culminating Sunday performance focuses more tightly on modern dance, including works by choreographers Carla Kimball, of Norwich, and Taylor Barnes, of Pomfret.

Both of the evening performances will be in the Briggs Opera House and will run around 75 minutes. Tickets are $20, free for kids under 12.

For a complete schedule and tickets, go to thejunctiondancefestival.org.

More festivities

In addition to the dance festival, a couple other longer-term events are getting underway.

The Oak Hill Music Festival, founded three years ago, just like the dance festival, is holding events every day from July 9-14. Organized by bassoonist Leah Kohn, a 2008 graduate of Hanover High School, and her husband, violinist Niv Ashkenazi, the festival this year is bring nine more musicians to the Upper Valley for performances and open rehearsals.

For more information about performances Friday evening in Lebanon and Saturday evening in Norwich, and other programs, go to oakhillmusicfestival.com.

And the long-running Canaan Meetinghouse readings start Thursday evening at 7 with readings by fictions writers Lynn Stegner and Yukiko Tominaga. The series, which benefits the Canaan Town Library, continues with readings by former Vermont Poet Laureate Ellen Bryant Voight and Maine novelist Paul Harding on July 18 and by current New Hampshire Poet Laureate Jennifer Militello and Norwich novelist and educator Ken Cadow on July 25.

Admission to the readings, held in Canaan’s 1793 meetinghouse, is free, and the library gathers its coin from the sale of baked goods. The Norwich Bookstore will be on hand to sell works by the authors.

Free concert at Collis

I wasn’t aware until recently that Dartmouth’s Collis Center has held a longstanding concert series. There’s one coming up on Tuesday that seems notable, in that it’s free, open to the public and slated for the middle of the day.

Bob and Sarah Amos, a father-daughter duo, bring their Americana band to the Collis Center from 12:30 to 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon. An installment of the Music Now! series, put on by Collis and the college’s Music Department, the show is funded, in part, by the Sykes Memorial Concert Fund, which is supported by alumnus Jack Wehner, in honor of his favorite music professor, Jim Sykes.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.