Built on Stilts returns for its 19th year

Teo Azzollini and Sheila McHugh perform their piece, "Hands Unlocked." — Photo by Michael Cummo

The Vineyard’s own homegrown community dance festival, Built on Stilts, celebrates 19 years at the Union

Chapel in Oak Bluffs, marking its return Thursday, August 13, through Tuesday, August 18.

Built on Stilts encourages expression through dance and movement, and this year the festival will feature the work of more than 50 choreographers from the Vineyard and beyond.

According to a press release, what began in 1997 as a one-night concert showcasing the work of seven choreographers has since ballooned into a six-day event that reflects the Island’s artistic spirit. Built on Stilts now programs artists of all ages, from near and far, that represent a broad array of styles. The festival’s all-inclusive philosophy has attracted a broad range of talent and technical ability, defining Built on Stilts as a destination for professional participants and fledgling performers alike.

Each evening, the festival opens with a drum circle at 7:30 pm while dancers warm up, and all acoustic musicians are invited to join. Self-choreographed dance pieces by local, national, and international performers follow at 8 pm. The lineup is different for each show of the festival. Admission is free, though donations are strongly recommended. Visit builtonstilts.org for a detailed performance schedule.

Built on Stilts is supported in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council, which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.