Celebrate dance at Martha’s Vineyard’s Built on Stilts

Ralph Stewart

Built on Stilts, the Vineyard’s homegrown dance festival, will celebrate its 16th anniversary at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs with shows on August 9-12 and 18-21.

Once a one-night show of a few performances and a meager audience, Built on Stilts has grown since its inception in 1997 into an eagerly awaited staple of the summer that allows the Martha’s Vineyard’s dance community a broad spectrum outlet, with a dedicated audience to cheer the performers.

Each evening will begin with a drum circle, around which dancers and other musicians gather to ignite the evening’s dynamic energy, at 7:30 pm. At 8, once the chapel’s seats are filled and the lights have dimmed, the performances will begin. This year, more than 50 groups from the Island and beyond will offer their passion and talent to the audience, ranging from dance to theatre to music. Some will be newcomers, others, such as Laura Sargent Hall of Kaleidoscope Dance, the Vineyard’s Ballroom Dance group, and the staff of The Yard continue their yearly participation. In addition, the Advancedshop workshop for performers ages 12 to 16, and Stiltshop, for ages 5-11, will explore the art of choreography to craft their own dances for the festival.

In an interview with The Times last August, festival founder Abby Bender said, “Built on Stilts brings the entire community together and reminds us that we all have this wonderful language in common.”

Built on Stilts, Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 9–12, and Saturday-Tuesday, Aug. 18–21, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs. Doors open at 7:30 pm with a drum circle and warm-ups onstage. Performances begin at 8 pm. Attendance is free, though donations to the festival are recommended.

For information about registration, performance schedules, and donations, visit builtonstilts.org.