Built for action
In its 12th season, the Built on Stilts (BOS) Festival remains a steadfast event, drawing a packed house to the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. The seven-night festival is a smorgasbord of dance and more, from hip-hop and ballet to improv and drumming.
"It's been amazing, and this is my fourth time in it," says Bess Child, a 24-year-old dancer from West Tisbury. "I love dancing in it because it's so diverse. There's the most random stuff; some is modern, and there's ballet, belly dancing, African, and random Improv. It's just really eclectic and very diverse."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
For BOS, Ms. Child collaborated with three choreographers and performers, Emma Lovewell, Evan Hall, and Alise Haigazian, in addition to nine younger performers for "Reconciliation," a hip-hop dance.
Many of the group danced together while attending the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, and Ms. Child and Ms. Lovewell danced in various groups while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Ms. Child first participated as a part of the Kelly Peters Dance (KPD) Crew in 2001, but since Mr. Peters moved off-Island last year, the crew organized themselves this year.
"Built on Stilts is really our culminating experience at the end of the summer," says Ms. Child. "It's the big show; it's always been the big show for KPD. This year we really pulled it together just us, on our own. We didn't have any leading force."
First-time performers this year include the students of RISE-Vineyard Performing Arts. Children aged six to 13 performed a piece from "Newsies" as part of a free choreography class offered to students of RISE. RISE Director Jil Matrisciano also performed her own piece with She-Figured Dance, a dance set to David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
"It is a piece based on relationships, a quartet with a lot of released-based modern movement," says Ms. Matrisciano, one of two main members in the group. Established in 2002, the company has performed in Boston and throughout New England, in addition to past Built on Stilts Festivals.
With five nights already completed, the festival has two performances left for this Saturday and Sunday. Locals on the bill for Saturday night are Island ballroom dance group members Tom Carberry and Janet Holladay, The BellyDance class from Vineyard Tennis Center-Workout and Spa, and Saskia Vanderhoop who teaches salsa lessons at Che's Lounge, among others. Sunday night will have performances by Corinne deLangavant, Devon Lodge, Naomi Goldberg Haas from Dances for a Variable Population, and Abby Bender who is the choreographer, performer, BOS director and co-founder.
In directing the festival, Ms. Bender successfully designs the programs with over 10 five- to seven-minute performances so that on a given night there is a range of acts.
"What I try to do is make every program as balanced as possible," says Ms. Bender. "The goal is to have a really varied night every night."
Built on Stilts, Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24, 7:30 pm drum circle, 8 pm performance, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs. Free, donations accepted. For more information, visit builtonstilts.org.