Valley News – Arts Notes: Junction Dance Festival Focuses on Audience Participation
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Valley News – Arts Notes: Junction Dance Festival Focuses on Audience Participation

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

The college produced Pilobolus, an internationally renowned New England modern dance group that in turn spawned side bands that regularly appeared at Hop.

But something has changed, and it’s not just the temporary closure of Hop for renovation and expansion. The local dance community is growing, and the continued growth of The Junction Dance Festival, which this year runs from this weekend to next, seems to be the most obvious example. This year’s festival is less focused on performance than on audience participation, and festival organizers have spread it out over multiple dates and locations.

The festival kicks off Saturday with an all-day series of dance workshops at the Lebanon Ballet School, starting with a qi gong class at 9 a.m. and ending with a dance improvisation class at 3:30 p.m. Some classes are designed for specific age groups, so keep an eye out and register in advance on the festival website,, but all workshops on July 13 are free.

Next week, the festival will screen three dance films at 7 p.m. July 16 at the Briggs Opera House, including the most high-profile: “The Quarry Project,” a film about choreographer Chelsea Hannah Dennison’s groundbreaking performances in a disused granite quarry in central Vermont last summer, and “Drip,” directed and choreographed by Strafford native Quinn Thomashow. Admission is $10 at the door, with children under 12 free.

Workshops will resume July 18 with dance and movement therapy at the Bugbee Senior Center at 10:00 a.m. and an intergenerational movement workshop for children ages 7-10 and seniors at the Norwich Public Library at 11:00 a.m.

Next Saturday, July 20, there will be another series of workshops at the ballet school and at the AVA Gallery and Arts Center in Lebanon, but it will also be time for the first performances.

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

As part of the extensive workshops, two evening performances at the festival, on July 20 at 7:00 p.m. and July 21 at 5:00 p.m., will allow participants to become familiar with a variety of dance styles.

Saturday evening’s show will feature everything from flamenco to contemporary ballet, while Sunday’s climax will feature a greater emphasis on contemporary dance, including work by choreographers Carla Kimball of Norwich and Taylor Barnes of Pomfret.

Both evening performances will be held at the Briggs Opera House and will last approximately 75 minutes. Tickets are $20, with children under 12 free.

For the full schedule and tickets, visit

More celebrations

In addition to the dance festival, there will be several other, longer events.

The Oak Hill Music Festival, founded three years ago, like the dance festival, runs daily from July 9 to 14. The festival is organized by bassoonist Leah Kohn, a 2008 graduate of Hanover High School, and her husband, violinist Niv Ashkenazi. This year, nine more musicians will come to the Upper Valley to perform and participate in open rehearsals.

For more information about the Friday night performances in Lebanon and Saturday night in Norwich, as well as other programs, visit

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

Admission to the readings, held in the 1793 Canaan meetinghouse, is free, and the library collects its coins from bake sales. Norwich Bookstore will be available to sell authors’ work.

Free concert at Collis

Until recently, I didn’t know that Dartmouth’s Collis Center has a concert series that’s been going on for a long time. Tuesday will feature one that seems noteworthy because it’s free, open to the public, and scheduled for noon.

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

Alex Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3207.