Photo by Annie Macy at the Marina Restaurant

Photo by Annie Macy at the Marina Restaurant

Painting by Siiri Lane at Latchis Gallery

Painting by Siiri Lane at Latchis Gallery

Symmagery Yoga Mat by Tara Gordon at Vermont Artisan Designs

Symmagery Yoga Mat by Tara Gordon at Vermont Artisan Designs

Work by Richard Ray at Elliot St. Fish & Chips

Digital Photo Abstracts by Richard Ray at Elliot St. Fish & Chips

"Movement 2016" Exhibits Prepare Way for Dance Festival

Art by Clare Adams at Restless Rooster

Work by Clare Adams at
Restless Rooster Café

The 4th Annual Southern Vermont Dance Festival is preparing to celebrate the breadth and beauty of movement with a four-day schedule of classes, performances, community events, and more in Brattleboro on July 14-17. Preparing the way is "MOVEMENT 2016," a multi-venue installation of twenty-two exhibits featuring "movement-inspired art of all kinds." Beginning on Gallery Walk Friday, July 1, and continuing throughout the month, these venues are showing work by sixteen artists who celebrate movement and dance in paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, and more—some work will be available for sale.

The Southern Vermont Dance Festival was birthed out of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and the Brooks House Fire, and has an equal focus on promoting the arts and art excellence, and being an economic driver for the community. Brenda Lynn Siegel, Executive and Artistic Director of the Festival, has a degree in choreography from Hampshire College and has worked as a choreographer, performer, and dance teacher locally, throughout New England, and further afield. While Modern Dance is her specialty, she also teaches Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, Belly Dance, and Astanga Yoga, and for a dozen years has run a popular Break Dance camp for local youth. Seeing the need for a consistent and concerted effort to revive and help sustain the local economy, she decided to concentrate her effort where she knew best and in the community with which she was most familiar.

Siegel knew that dancers would come, that they would shop and eat, and would be excited about Brattleboro's downtown community. And she knew that she could excite the community about dance. The benefits of a dance festival would be for everyone: "Performances would involve world-renowned choreographers, dancers, and faculty from around the globe to teach classes and perform. There would be ticketed galas, receptions, and informal concerts. There would be community events completely free to the public, thus inviting people to spend a weekend in Brattleboro, and classes for everyone from the person who has never set foot in a dance studio to the well-established professional. There would be something for everyone." This festival would make Brattleboro a dance hub and attract people throughout the year to vacation, see dance, see theater, and enjoy art exhibits.

Convergence by Eric Boyer at Gallery in the Woods

From Eric Boyer's wire mesh "Convergence" exhibit at Gallery in the Woods

New to this year's festival is a Black Tie BBQ at Rudyard Kipling's home, Naulakha, in nearby Dummerston, complete with a promenade performance! Only 50 tickets will be sold for this special evening. Performances this season will take place at the Latchis Theater, the newly renovated Stone Church, Naulakha, and other sites in and around the community. The festival will also host some major players in the dance world including our very own Mucuy Bolles, former dancer with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and owner of Brattleboro's Three Stones Restaurant—in addition to Dances by Isadora, The Wondertwins, Adrienne Hawkins, and more!.

In its 4th season, SVDF has launched an ambitious capital campaign to raise $200,000 over the next seven months to establish itself as a sustainable organization. The festival has grown, and in order to continue to serve both the dance community and the local economy, it needs full-time staff. This financial goal will support two complete years of the festival, three modest full-time salaries, and a fair stipend for the choreographers who show their work. As Siegel points out, "It is no longer a one-woman job. In order to have the capacity to successfully market the festival and apply for the right grants, we must match our outstanding growth with economic means. It is important for the local business community to support the arts and for artists to think about how their events affect the economy. When we all stand together and support each other, we all succeed."

Southern Vermont Dance Festival has made its focus one of driving the local economy, and this year it is asking the community to give back, to say loudly and clearly that it wants SVDF to continue this focus on community growth and sustainability. All are welcome to become involved in this year's festival by giving generously, by volunteering, or even by hosting an artist. To purchase a festival pass or tickets to the galas, check out SVDF's brand-new website at, and get in touch by email at Be sure to get your tickets and passes early!


This year's multi-venue exhibits not only offer a reason for folks to explore the downtown but also present movement through different mediums, once again showing that dance is for absolutely everyone. "Movement is the essence of our being, and we all have some form of movement within us—it's about finding the movement that allows us to feel free," says Siegel. Explore and enjoy!

Copyright 2016, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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