Valley News – Art Notes: Junction Dance Festival focuses on public participation

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

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

But something has changed, and it’s not just the temporary closure of Hop for renovation and expansion. An indigenous 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 to be the clearest example. This year’s festival is less focused on performance than on public participation, and festival organizers have spread it out over time and multiple locations.

The festival begins on Saturday with a day-long series of dance workshops at the Lebanon Ballet School, starting with a qi gong class at 09.00 and ends with a dance improvisation lesson at 15.30. Some of the classes are for specific age groups, so look carefully and register in advance on the festival’s website, thejunctiondancefestival.orgbut all July 13 workshops are free.

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

Workshops resume 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, there will be another long list of workshops, at the ballet school and at the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, but it will also bring the first performances.

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

In keeping with the comprehensive workshops, the festival’s two evening performances, at 7pm on July 20 and 5pm on July 21, will showcase a variety of dance languages.

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

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

For a complete schedule and tickets, go to

More festivities

In addition to the dance festival, a couple of other more long-term events are taking place.

Founded three years ago, the Oak Hill Music Festival, like the dance festival, holds events every day July 9-14. Organized by bassoonist Leah Kohn, a 2008 Hanover High School graduate, and her husband, violinist Niv Ashkenazi, this year’s festival will bring nine musicians to the Upper Valley for performances and open rehearsals.

For more information on performances Friday night in Lebanon and Saturday night in Norwich, and other programs, go to

And the long-running Canaan Meetinghouse readings begin Thursday evening at 7 with readings by fiction authors Lynn Stegner and Yukiko Tominaga. The series, which benefits 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 the 1793 Canaan Meeting House, is free, and the library raises its coin from the sale of baked goods. Norwich Bookstore will be on hand to sell works by the authors.

Free concert at Collis

I was not aware until recently that Dartmouth’s Collis Center has been holding a long-running concert series. There’s one coming up on Tuesday that seems notable, because it’s free, open to the public, and scheduled for mid-day.

Bob and Sarah Amos, a father-daughter duo, bring their Americana band to the Collis Center from 12:30 to 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. Part 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, 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.

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