Theater & Dance

Jesse Keller, left, and Alison Manning, co-artistic directors at The Yard, perform at Dance The Yard this weekend.

The Yard brings its resident contemporary performance collective, Dance The Yard, to the stage this Friday and Saturday, August 30 and 31.

Under the direction of co-artistic directors Jesse Keller and Alison Manning, the collective has grown from an initial public performance of Yard staff and intern artists to other national artists, according to a press release. Performers include Ms. Keller and Ms. Manning, Holly Jones, What’s Written Within, Sandy Broyard and Ted Box, Ben Cheney, Rebecca Ledbetter, Marianne Goldberg, Sammi Shay, Darcy Shaffner, and a collaboration by the interns.

See the show Friday, August 30 at 8 pm; Saturday, August 31 at an 11 am matinee (pay-what-you-can) and at 8 pm. Admission to the 8 pm shows is $25; $15 seniors/students/active military. For more information, call 508-645-9662 or visit

Harlem Dance Theater dancers perform Ulysses Dove's "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven."

The Dance Theater of Harlem was in residence at the Vineyard Arts Project in Edgartown for the past two weeks, creating a new work that they performed excerpts from in sold-out shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

According to the Dance Theater of Harlem’s website, the historic company was formed in 1969 after the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Co-founder Arthur Mitchell “was inspired to start a school that would offer children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts.” The company has since evolved into a worldwide success as a performing ensemble and educational program. It is now under the direction of Virginia Johnson and comprised of artists from across the country.

Last weekend’s performance included excerpts from Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis’s new ballet, “past-carry-forward,” created entirely during the company’s residency at Vineyard Arts Project, as well as a demonstration of the “the nine points” technique, which required audience participation. An excerpt from Robert Garland’s ballet “Return,” set to James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn,” concluded the evening.

Ashley Melone, residency director at the Vineyard Arts Project, said the performances “brought the house down every night. The energy as the audience left was inspiring and contagious.”

For more information about Vineyard Arts Project.

"So Cool It's Hot" performed by the RISE Vineyard Performing Arts summer ensemble.

If you missed the first weekend of Built on Stilts performances, you still have four more nights to see the dance festival at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. The 17th annual event showcases many styles of performance art, from the drum circle that begins each performance at 7:30, to all types of dance performed by both amateurs and professionals.

According to the event’s website, founders Abby Bender and Anna Luckey created Built on Stilts in 1997, “in the hopes of creating an all-inclusive, grassroots performance venue for Island artists.” What kicked off as a one-night performance has now blossomed into an eight-night festival, but it hasn’t lost its inclination towards grassroots inclusivity.

This year, there has been a “changing of the guards,” says Ms. Bender. “Many of the locally grown amateur dances are being made and performed by young adults who grew up through the kids and teens workshops and have been part of the festival since they were quite small.”

Built on Stilts, August 17–20, drum circle begins at 7:30 pm, dance begins at 8 pm, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs. Free; donations encouraged. For more information, visit

You may recognize Elizabeth Parkinson from Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp's "Movin' Out."Elizabeth Parkinson.

Actress and dancer Elizabeth Parkinson has served as co-director for the Musical Theater Lab at the Vineyard Arts Project (VAP) for the past six years. This Friday, for the first time, the Tony award nominee and former ballerina performs for the public on the Vineyard at a fundraising dinner and show.

Ms. Parkinson is best known for originating the role of Brenda in the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel jukebox musical “Movin’ Out,” for which she was nominated for both a Tony and a Drama Desk award and won the Astaire award for Best Female Dancer. She was also a principal member of the Broadway musical review “Fosse” and has appeared in four movies. Before pursuing musical theater, Ms. Parkinson enjoyed a successful career in ballet — performing as a principal with the Joffrey Ballet and Twyla Tharp Dance, among other companies.

Ms. Parkinson has now transitioned from performing to teaching, but was persuaded by VAP founder and director Ashley Melone to appear as part of a faculty and student showcase at the upcoming fundraising event. “I’ve always been such a huge fan of Elizabeth’s,” Ms. Melone said. “I saw her in ‘Movin’ Out’ and ‘Fosse.’ She’s just so compelling to watch. She doesn’t really perform anymore, but she’s still so stunning.”

Ms. Parkinson now runs a school in Connecticut with her husband, Scott Wise, a Tony-winning song and dance man and veteran of 13 Broadway shows.

The fundraiser includes a post performance dinner with staff and students, catered by Jan Buhrman. The approximately one-hour long show features students and other Musical Theater Lab faculty. Ms. Parkinson will perform “Cool Hand Luke” from “Fosse” and other numbers.

The Musical Theater Lab was established in 2007 by Ms. Parkinson and Mr. Wise. Throughout the year the two Broadway stars conduct auditions around the country to select 26 students ages 14 to 18 to participate in the summer program. The best and the brightest young talent study dance, singing, and acting on the Vineyard for two weeks each summer. The staff includes a dozen theater, dance, vocal, and directing professionals.

Previously the spacious facility, complete with four state-of-the-art dance studios, served as a ballet school. Many of the students who passed through that program are now with renowned dance companies.

VAP also sponsors a number of theater and dance residencies in the summer. In July, artists from New York’s Public Theater and ARS Nova were in residency. Later this month the Dance Theater of Harlem will spend two weeks at the facility, for the second consecutive year.

At the end of each residency, the artists present readings or excerpts of new work created on site. The main studio, converted into a small theater for these evenings, offers a great opportunity to see work from prestigious theater and dance companies and emerging playwrights in an intimate space.

The upcoming fundraiser featuring Ms. Parkinson will help support the residencies. Artists pay nothing for their time here and are provided with a stipend.

Ms. Melone is grateful to Ms. Parkinson for helping with her fundraising efforts. “I’m absolutely thrilled to have her back for the sixth year and excited to see her dance,” she said. “To see a woman of her caliber perform in such an intimate setting up close is really exceptional.”

Vineyard Arts Project Fundraiser, Friday, August 9, 6 pm, Vineyard Arts Project, 215 Upper Main Street, Edgartown. $300. Visit for more information.

Stiltshoppers show the audience their feathers in "Wonderful Webbed Feet, Beautiful Beaks, Fabulous Feathers."

Built on Stilts, the annual dance and performance festival, celebrates its 17th season starting this Thursday, August 8. Shows continue nightly through August 11, then resume August 17 through 20.

This season features the work of more than 40 choreographers from the Vineyard and beyond. Participating groups include amateur acts, local companies such as The Yard and RISE Vineyard Performing Arts, visiting acts from as far away as Seattle, and professionals from companies in New York City.

“The festival’s all-inclusive philosophy has attracted an enormous range of choreographic sophistication and technical ability, defining Built on Stilts by its collective energy and creative output, as a home in which professional participants are free to experiment and fledgling performers can discover the joy of making dances,” according to a press release.

Festival director and co-founder Abby Bender says that this year’s performances will be more varied and include more visiting artists than ever before. Built on Stilts encourages all styles of performance art, from miming to circus, and it features dancers of all ages. Each year, two workshops are offered: Stiltshop, for kids aged 5 to 11; and Advancedshop, for teens 12 to 16. After a week of working with an experienced choreographer, the youths collaborate to create their own performances for the festival.

This year, there has been a “changing of the guards,” says Ms. Bender. “Many of the locally grown amateur dances are being made and performed by young adults who grew up through the kids and teens workshops and have been part of the festival since they were quite small.”

This year’s festival also includes performances by faculty members from Bard College’s Dance Department, Ms. Bender and co-founder Anna Luckey’s alma mater. “There’s something that has come sort of magically full-circle about these artists’ involvement,” Ms. Bender said.

Built on Stilts, August 8–11 and 17–20, 8 pm, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs. Nightly drum circles begin at 7:30 pm. Free, donations encouraged. No reservations. For more information, visit

Tap the Yard 2 features tap, hip hop, Irish step dancing, and other forms of rhythmic dance.

There is a lot more than your basic shuffle-hop-step going on during The Yard’s upcoming Tap the Yard 2: A Vineyard Festival of Rhythm and Beats. The two-week festival, which commences Thursday, July 25, features some of the freshest, most exciting artists working today in tap, hip hop, Irish step dancing, and other forms of rhythmic dance in multiple shows that vary each night.

Five shows will mix up the various dancers and groups at The Yard’s Patricia N. Nanon Theater. Then, moving to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) next weekend, The Yard presents two special events: an all-tap show on Saturday, August 3 will feature some of the program’s dancers and end with a family tap dance in which all are welcome to the stage to participate, with or without tap shoes.

On Friday, August 2, the featured dancers present an all-star spectacular show preceded by a barbecue at the home of Laura Roosevelt and Charles Silberstein. This special evening is a benefit for The Yard’s Challenge Match initiative.

When The Yard hosted its first tap festival last year, initiated by managing director Alison Manning, they called upon award-winning choreographer and dancer David Parker, whose company, New York City-based The Bang Group, focuses on rhythm-based theatrical dance. Mr. Parker is the ideal curator for the festival given his long and illustrious career in dance and his dedication to percussive dance.

“My dance debut was on the sidewalks of Boston tap dancing on a piece of cardboard at age 17,” said Mr. Parker. “When I moved to New York I worked with a variety of dance companies in all different styles. In my own work I’ve been incorporating all kinds of work. I’ve been running parallel to the tap world. I had always wanted to connect tap to the real dance world.”

Mr. Parker has been honored for his choreography with numerous awards, both national and international, including a Bessie Award. This year he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship.

Festival co-curator Ms. Manning also has a history with tap dancing. “I tapped for a couple of companies in New York,” she said. “I have wanted to bring tap to The Yard for a long time. It’s a fun kind of dance that people find accessible.”

She and Mr. Parker have recruited a number of the shining lights of the dance world — from traditional tappers, to those specializing in other rhythmic forms, to a few innovators whose work incorporates multiple styles of dance and theater.

The festival kicks off with a lineup that should give a good taste of the variety of the festival’s programming. On Thursday, July 25, The Bang Group presents new work, along with rhythm tap from Dylan Baker, hip hop from the WonderTwins, and Irish step dancing from Timothy Kochka.

Works by The Bang Group have been presented at many of the major dance venues in New York City as well as in Europe. The troupe’s innovative, smart, and humorous dances incorporate percussive dance, vaudeville, silent film comedy, movie musicals, and classical ballet. During last year’s festival, The Bang Group presented pieces from a very funny new show called “Sisters and Misters” that featured songs from Broadway shows.

The WonderTwins are identical twins from Boston. “They are the most incredible pop and lockers,” said Mr. Parker. “It’s amazing what their bodies can do.” (Pop and lock is a form of breakdancing.) The WonderTwins have won the Apollo Theater competition six times, have performed with Bobby Brown, Queen Latifah, MC Hammer, MC Lyte, KRS One, Public Enemy, and others, and choreographed for New Kids on the Block.

Timothy Kochka is a two-time World Irish Dance Champion & Broadway Riverdance performer. He has appeared at Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and The Joyce Theater in New York.

Dylan Baker, an up-and-coming tapper, dances to contemporary music. Jason Samuels Smith and Derick Grant, who will be featured during the second week of the festival, are two of the established stars of the New York rhythm tap world.

The second week of the festival features Camille A. Brown & Dancers and Michelle Dorrance and her troupe.

Camille Brown’s work “Mr. TOL E. RanCE” examines the role of black performers throughout American history, commenting on stereotyping. The Yard festival features excerpts from that show, which was inspired by Spike Lee’s movie, “Bamboozeled” and Mel Watkins’s book, “On The Real Side: From Slavery to Chris Rock.”

“Camille is a younger African American choreographer who has recently exploded on the dance scene,” said Mr. Parker. “In this show she draws on vaudeville and other minstrel forms showing people in black face and then stripping that away.”

Choreographer and dancer Michelle Dorrance has been called, “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” by The New Yorker magazine. She has won numerous awards for her choreography, including a 2011 Bessie. Ms. Dorrance took part in last year’s Tap The Yard festival.

“Michelle is amazing,” said Mr. Parker. “There’s nobody doing what she’s doing.”

Some of the festival artists have been hosting community classes at The Yard this week. On Thursday and Friday, the WonderTwins will be teaching hip hop and robotics from 9 to 10:30 am.

Tap The Yard events at The Yard begin tonight, July 25 and run through next Thursday, August 1. Tickets are $25, shows start at 8 pm except July 27, 6:30 pm.

Family Tap Jam and performance Saturday, August 3, at the M.V. Regional High School’s PAC, Oak Bluffs, at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $35. Students/seniors and active military receive discounts.

Challenge Match Benefit, Friday, August 2 at the PAC. $75 for show; $175 dinner and show. For more information, call 508-645-9662 or visit


Jabberwocky Jubilee

Camp Jabberwocky, the oldest sleepover camp for persons with disabilities in the U.S., celebrates its 60th Jubilee and silent auction this Tuesday, July 16, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. From 7 to 9:30 pm, enjoy music, dancing, and surprises all for the benefit of the nonprofit. Admission is $20; $10 with Our Island Club card; $5 for children. For more information, email

Party for the pets

Spend an evening in a private garden in West Tisbury for the benefit of the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard this Sunday, July 14. From 5:30 to 7 pm, enjoy food and drinks, live and silent auctions, and live music by Mark Lovewell at Nina’s Garden located at 42 Look’s Pond Way in West Tisbury. Admission is a donation to the shelter. For more information, call Lisa Hayes at 508-627-8662.

Pizza night in Aquinnah

Orange Peel Bakery’s weekly Outdoor Brick Oven Pizza Party is not to be missed this summer. Every Wednesday from 5 to 8 pm, the bakery, located at 22 State Road in Aquinnah, provides all-you-can-eat dough, sauce, and cheese, and you bring your own toppings. Also enjoy live music by singer-songwriter Melanie Chaunce, and bring a lawn chair to enjoy the fire pit. Admission is $10 a person. For more information, call the bakery at 508-645-2025.

Local scholarship winner performs before Harlem Quartet

The highly praised and exciting Harlem Quartet will return to the Island on July 15 and 16 to kick off the 43rd consecutive season of concerts produced by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS). The concerts will be in Edgartown’s Old Whaling Church on Monday, July 15, and Chilmark’s Community Center on Tuesday, the 16th. Both performances will start at 8 pm.

MVCMS president David Rhoderick along with artistic director Delores Stevens will present Olivia de Geofroy, recent scholarship winner and high school graduate, with her award at the beginning of Monday’s concert. Olivia will sing a song as a special treat.

For more information, visit or call 508-696-8055.

Jimmy Seas opening soon

Jimmy Seas Pan Pasta on Kennebec Avenue in Oak Bluffs reopens next week after a delay owner James Cipolla attributed to a break-in earlier this season.

Mr. Cipolla will host a pre-opening bash at Hooked in Oak Bluffs on Saturday night, according to a press release. Mike Martin and Los Rootsticks, along with special guest musicians will attend. All are welcome to join in on Saturday night. Music begins about 9 pm. For more information, call 508-696-8550.

Pig Pen Theatre Co., during a performance at VAP in 2012.

You might never suspect it, but at a spacious facility hidden behind a hedge row on upper Main Street, Edgartown, some of the brightest stars of the dance and theater world will create new work this summer.

Vineyard Arts Project (VAP), an organization dedicated to fostering the work of both established and up-and-coming artists, has half a dozen residencies scheduled, including a lineup of Tony award winners and a world-renowned ballet company.

Since 2008, VAP has hosted summer residencies, providing “an incubator for the creation of new work in dance and theatre,” according to their website. At the conclusion of every residency, the Vineyard community is afforded the opportunity to get a first glimpse of the fruits of the artists’ labors. The center will host five performance/discussions throughout the summer, featuring all or parts of new works.

“I think the presentations are a great way for the audience to witness the creative process rather than a fully staged, fully produced show,” says VAP founder and artistic director Ashley Melone.

Two groups who are developing new work for New York’s Public Theater have been on the Island since last weekend. The 60-year-old Public Theater, one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, has been honored with 42 Tony Awards, 158 Obie Awards, 45 Drama Desk Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes.

Ms. Melone has had a relationship with The Public Theater for the past four years. In previous summers, VAP hosted emerging writers. This year, for the first time, two works commissioned by The Public are being developed here. The Public Theater’s artistic director Oskar Eustis has accompanied the artists to the Vineyard.

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, whose Broadway rock musical “Passing Strange” won a Tony and was the subject of a Spike Lee film, are currently at VAP working on a new musical called “The Total Bent,” about a gospel singer and a legendary music producer.

Also on hand are the experimental theater group Elevator Repair Service, who last year won an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence. Their recent show, “Gatz,” a seven-hour dramatic reading of “The Great Gatsby,” was lauded by critics. Currently the collaborative group is working on a multi-media piece called “Arguendo” about a First Amendment case brought by a group of exotic dancers in 1991.

Starting next week, VAP will host the fourth annual New Artists/New Work residents. Since the inaugural year of 2009, New Artists/New Plays alums have gone on to enjoy great success in the theater world. The musical “Witness Uganda,” whose co-writers were in residency at VAP in 2010, is scheduled for performance at the prestigious American Repertory Theater in Cambridge next year. “Disgraced,” a play also developed on the Vineyard in 2010, recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“It’s so exiting to take a risk on these new writers when no one knows who they are and watch their success,” says Ms. Melone. “There’s nothing that makes me happier. It means we’re fulfilling our mission.”

This summer two new plays will be in development — Nastaran Ahmadi’s “The Bet,” a contemporary retelling of a Chekhov short story, and “DB,” a play about the legendary DB Cooper, created by the group Woodshed Collective, who create work collaboratively.

“The Bet” will be directed by accomplished film and television director Claudia Weill and will feature a trio of accomplished actors, including Robin Weigert who, among numerous TV and film roles, played Calamity Jane on the HBO series “Deadwood.”

In mid July, VAP hosts Ars Nova, a New York-based organization devoted to developing new talent. During the residency, a number of performing artists will work on a variety of comedy, musical, and theater projects. This is the group’s second year at VAP.

“I’m a huge fan of their work as a theater company as a whole,” says Ms. Melone. “They work in a similar way as we do, focusing on new and emerging artists in theater. I feel really aligned with them in terms of our ethos.”

The rest of the summer will be devoted to dance. In early August, VAP will host its annual Musical Theater Lab, a two-week professionally-run intensive training program for teens. During that time, Elizabeth Parkinson, co-director of the Musical Theater Lab, will give a rare performance at the annual fundraiser. Ms. Parkinson, a musical theater veteran now retired, was nominated for a Tony award for Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out. “She’s one of my favorite dancers,” says Ms. Melone. “She’s really stunning. The dance world misses her. I begged and pleaded with her to perform.”

The season concludes with the acclaimed Dance Theater of Harlem in residency. Last year, the NYC-based ballet troupe attracted sellout crowds to their two residency ending performances. New dances developed during that residency were performed at Lincoln Center in April.

“It’s really exciting to see the work developed here on the Vineyard being performed in New York,” says Ms. Melone. “The Vineyard audiences gets to see it first in the studio very close to the performers. I think that’s a really important part of the Vineyard Arts Project — offering audiences a chance to see the work up close in an intimate space.”

Presentations of The Public Theater work will take place on Saturday, June 29, at 7 pm, at Vineyard Arts Project, Upper Main Street, Edgartown. All residencies include public presentations — readings, musical numbers, or selections from new work — offered on a pay-what-you-will basis. Tickets can be reserved through

On Friday, July 5, VAP will host its annual Art for Art fundraiser, at VAP. The cocktail party features a silent auction and music by famed NYC deejays Andrew/ Andrew. Tickets are $35; $30 in advance. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the residents of the New Writers/New Plays series.

The resident up-and-coming artists include South Asian Hari Krishnan (right), who has been teaching Bollywood dance classes during the residency, and New York choreographers Deborah Lohse (center) and Donnell Oakley.

This summer The Yard — the Chilmark-based choreography and dance residency/performance center — will host a variety of artists who stretch the boundaries of contemporary dance. Included in the 2013 performance schedule are works by choreographers who integrate dance with film, theater, and physical comedy. The subjects range from work drawn from recent research into the brain, to a performance that brings the works of artist Edward Hopper alive.

In July, actress Amy Brenneman will return with a new one-woman show. A fall adult puppet theater piece will address the issue of hunger in America. And The Yard will reprise its very popular tap dance festival with new performers, an extended schedule, and an audience participation spectacle at the high school’s Performing Arts Center.

All around, the season features some of the most unexpected, innovative, and audience accessible entertainment that The Yard has hosted in its 41 years, while also featuring new work in a more conventional vein by stars of the contemporary dance world. Included in the extended season of 13 unique programs are half a dozen recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships and a lineup of award-winning, globally acclaimed troupes.

“We are embarking on one of our fullest seasons in a long time with some of the most exciting programming we’ve ever had,” said Alison Manning, managing director.

The Yard has dug itself out of the financial woes that have plagued it for the last two years and is focusing more than ever on community education and off-site programming, according to artistic and executive director David R. White.

“This is a year when we’ve begun to get ahead of the game after a couple of years of doing a turnaround,” Mr. White said. “Debts are retired. That’s behind us. We finished last year in the black.”

A major three-year gift awarded by an anonymous donor this past spring has launched the organization’s “BACK (THE) YARD” challenge match initiative. This year’s matching goal of $250,000 will help towards the multi-year makeover plan, which includes refurbishment of the buildings, upgrading the theater, and increasing the space for residents.

The Yard will kick off its 2013 season this weekend with new work created during the past month by participants in the The 2013 Bessie Schönberg Residency. The resident up-and-coming artists include South Asian Hari Krishnan, who has been teaching Bollywood dance classes during the residency, and New York choreographers Deborah Lohse and Donnell Oakley. The trio have worked for the past month under guest Yard mentor David Brick, co-artistic director of Philadelphia’s HEADLONG Dance theater,

Next up, Mitchell Rose will present his unique mix of film, theater, dance, and comedy in “The Mitch Show.” Mr. Rose, a former choreographer and award-winning filmmaker who, according to Mr. White, has been called the Woody Allen of modern dance, will combine his many talents in a show described in the program as, “a fast-paced evening of comic films and audience-participation pieces.”

On June 28 and 29, three of the preeminent “downtown” dancers from New York City — Jodi Melnick, Jon Kinzel and Vicky Shickwill — will present a new work created during their Yard residency. Mr. White refers to the three as “dancer’s dancers.”

Ms. Manning says of Ms. Melnick, “She is one of my favorite artists in the dance scene right now. Having her on our Yard stage is a really special thing.” This past April, Ms Melnick was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine where she was referred to as “one of the most beautiful dancers there ever was.”

Starting off the July lineup is a unique dance troupe from Providence originally made up of family members and currently comprising a multigenerational, multicultural mix of performers. The group, Everett, will present a dance/theater experience called “Brain Storm,” which explores the human brain. The work is based on current neuroscience research and personal narrative and was developed in part during time the group spent at the Crotched Mountain Hospital, a facility in Western Massachusetts specializing in brain injury rehabilitation,

Following that, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer will present “Voyeur,” which uses the “movie still” works of Edward Hopper as the basis for a series of dances incorporating video, choreography, and imaginative sets.

The climax of The Yard’s season will be the second annual Tap the Yard Festival of Rhythm and Beats. This year, the festival has been extended to two weeks and incorporates other forms of rhythmic dance including Irish step dancing, hip hop and popping by the Wonder Twins, and a performance by Camille Brown and Dancers, a critically acclaimed troupe known for its high theatricality.

Mr. White calls Ms. Brown’s troupe the centerpiece of this year’s festival and notes that they will be back for their own residency in 2014.

Two companies who made a splash at last year’s festival — Michelle Dorrance/Dorrance Dance and the Bang Group — will return. Also included in the two separate programs are renowned tappers Derrick Grant and Jason Samuels Smith.

Choreographer Doug Elkins returns in August. His comic work “Fraulein Maria” proved a hit with Yard audiences the last two years. Mr. Elkins will again showcase his irreverent combination of dance and physical comedy in two different shows. One of the Doug Elkins’ performers, acclaimed clown Mark Gindick, will stay on to present his show “Wing-Man.” The actor and former Ringling Brothers and Big Apple Circus clown was featured in the PBS documentary “Circus.” “Wing-Man” won Best One Man Show at the United Solo Theatre Festival.

In September, see a special puppet theater presentation by Dan Froot/Dan Hurlin called “Who’s Hungry,” which addresses the issues of hunger and homelessness in the U.S.

Other programming includes the return of Public Dancing Allowed events featuring local musicians, a new series of sing-along evenings and, possibly, music jams. The Yard will also continue, and expand upon, its tradition of hosting visiting artist-led community classes, and bringing workshops and demonstrations to Island schools.

Of this year’s smorgasbord of a schedule, Mr. White says, “There’s stuff that lyrical and beautiful and gorgeous, and stuff that’s fun and raucous. We cover the waterfront.”

Dance: Bessie Schonberg Mentorship Residency, Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, 8 pm, The Yard, Chilmark. $25; $15 seniors/students/active military. 508-645-9662;

Devon Lodge dancing at a Juilliard School dance performance in early April.

To watch Devon Lodge dance is like watching the ocean. He moves with the fluidity and balance of a rolling wave about to break on the beach. Maybe it’s the result of his exposure to the beaches of the Vineyard. Maybe it’s the expertise the Oak Buffs native developed since he began dancing at age three.

Whatever it is, the second year dance student at The Juilliard School is one of six student dancers chosen to participate in Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Assemblee Internationale 2013 (AI13) in Toronto from April 28 to May 4. The group will represent Juilliard and will present the school’s alumna Julia Eichten’s dance piece, “Phases of Strobes.”

AI13 brings together students and artistic staff from 18 international professional ballet schools for seven days of intensive classes, performances, forums, and professional development. Students from participating schools will perform both a piece of existing repertoire as well as student-created choreography, which will be performed by a cast of students from each of the schools.

The AI13 also includes an innovative live-streaming project that explores the use of new technologies in dance. The live-streaming project, as well as several other AI13 performances and student classes, will be shown live on

Growing up a dancer

Mr. Lodge said that he knew he wanted to be a dancer since he was a child. He began dancing with Laura Sargent Hall’s school for younger kids on the Vineyard.

“At the age of six or seven I started taking more and more classes. I would go to school at the Oak Bluffs school and go straight to dance at 2 pm and come home about eight every night,” he said.

He said that in spite of his dancing prowess, he has never been much of an athlete. He played baseball for a while when he was younger, but he said he spent most of that time on the bench daydreaming. Neither of his two older brothers dance, but they sail a lot, he said. His mother, Karen Lodge, manages LeRoux at Home in Vineyard Haven and his dad, James Lodge, is a Steamship Authority boat captain.

While in grade school he studied at the Martha’s Vineyard School of Ballet with Beth Vages and Lori Cunningham. During his middle school years he danced with the Martha’s Vineyard Dance Theater and performed in “The Nutcracker” and in Built on Stilts, an Island summer dance festival.

“Lori Cunningham first suggested that I pursue dance off Island,” he said. It was soon after that he left home for the first time when he was 13 to attend the Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut, a renowned New England professional ballet training organization, for a summer.

He spent his high school years on a full scholarship at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick where he majored in ballet. “They not only had an incredible dance program, it was a really good high school. I got a good well-rounded education,” he said. There were about 80 students in the dance program. “We danced every day from 2 until 8 pm, after our classes.”

He applied to several colleges all of which had good dance programs, but was unsure about whether he should dance professionally or continue his education when he auditioned for a spot in the prestigious Juilliard dance program in New York City.

He knew very little about Juilliard before the first week of his freshman year, he said, and had never visited the school before his audition. After his initial experience at Juilliard he said he knew it was the right place for him. “I really liked the atmosphere at Juilliard,” he said. “Juilliard was where I needed to go.”

Somewhere between 400 and 600 accomplished dancers are invited each year to audition at the school after making the first application cut. After a day-long series of classes and dances, the group is reduced to about 60 for the final auditions. By the end of the day the 24 spots are filled, 12 boys and 12 girls.

His schedule there is similar to the schedule he has maintained since his grade school days. He often has classes six days a week. Most mornings are taken up with arts oriented academic classes. His afternoons and evenings are all dance. He said he spends about 50 hours a week in classes.

He works with some of the most gifted choreographers and dancers in the world at Juilliard and in the other programs, but he hasn’t been overwhelmed. “I rarely get intimidated,” he said. “I have very strong opinions, and I just go with the flow.

“I remember movement in a very different way than most people, I think. It really doesn’t get stored in my brain as well as it does in my body. You learn how you learn when you work with new choreographers.”

Mr. Lodge said he has never liked competition at all. “I strive to be the best for my own sake, for the feeling of it. It is then that you lose all sense of competition and you are just doing it for yourself. ”

He said that the movement toward competition dancing produces flashy performances that are not as nuanced as pieces that dancers spend more time developing. “I try to investigate every aspect of the choreography and produce a whole, rounded dance rather than something I’m flashing at the audience quickly,” he said. “It becomes much more fulfilling. Then I can really live in the movement rather than put it on top of myself.

“I think I don’t have a body like most other men my age. My limbs are very long and I think I am more ethereal and creature-like than human-like,” he said with a laugh. “Some choreographers really like that and some don’t.”

Mr. Lodge is often involved in multiple shows in addition to class. The 20-year-old often has classes or film shoots on weekends. It’s not all school all the time though. Saturdays he works the front desk at a yoga studio. He said he does a lot of yoga when he’s not dancing. His mother says the yoga helps keep him grounded.

Mr. Lodge was selected to perform at the Springboard Danse Montréal (SBDM) in June. SBDM aids the professional dancer by providing the skills necessary to transition between school and a first job by exposing dancers to a network of professional peers.

He will dance this summer with a professional company in New York. But he hopes to spend a week or so on the Vineyard dancing with his old friends at Built on Stilts — and at the beach.