Side notes from the Side Yard

The end of the beginning.

Yard interns from left, Kimberly Murry, Leah Crosby, Chloe Jones, and Erica Lindegren in costume for Godfrey Muwulya’s community dance work. – Photo courtesy Chloe Jones

A Salt Lake City native, Chloe Jones graduated from Wesleyan University this May with a double major in dance and Hispanic literatures and cultures. She currently serves as development intern at the Yard, a position which brought her to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time. In her summer here, she’s fallen in love with the Island. Her other great loves include dancing, writing, traveling, cooking, and hiking. She has reported regularly about her experience working at the Yard.

We’ve reached the end of the road! It’s ‘Close Up Shop Week’ at the Yard, and our last week as Yard interns. It’s a bittersweet time.

After a long day of readying the property for winter, I sit in the office with my fellow intern Erica. She’s editing video footage of last week’s A.R.T on the Vine (Artists Rising Together on the Vineyard) festival, and I’m attempting to write my last “Side notes from the Side Yard” post.

Where to begin? How to end?

In many ways we end how we began. The first week of our internship — like this one — was similarly devoted to preparing the property.

There are kitchen items to inventory, linens to store, rooms to empty. The twinkle lights must come down. The cobwebs, too. We reopen bins we haven’t touched since May, working in reverse to fill them with yoga mats, merchandise, cans of beans, boxes of salt.

Erica and I have turned on the space heater in the office. We’re wearing sweaters and scarves like we were that first week in May — this fall’s chilly nights an echo of last spring’s crisp evenings.

It feels as though we — all five of us Yard interns — have come full circle. At the same time it feels like we’ve traveled far. We’ve changed and acquired new momentum.

When our fellow intern Ari left earlier this month to return to Wesleyan University for his senior year, we said it was the beginning of the end. We quickly realized we were wrong. This is not the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning.

The Yard is our springboard. It’s a springboard for many: young choreographers with budding dreams, older artists with new ideas, dancers of every age.

This Saturday I will board the noon ferry with my fellow interns Kim, Leah, and Erica. We are going to visit Ari at Wesleyan, where Dorrance Dance — the groundbreaking tap dance company that opened the Yard’s 2015 TapTheYard festival last month — is serendipitously performing.

We bring this summer with us on the ferry. We meet it off-Island in the wider world.

From Uganda to Chilmark

Last week’s A.R.T on the Vine festival opened with “DanceTheYard and Friends” on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Yard’s barn theater. The performance brought together Vineyard choreographers and dancers (of all ages, from teens to septuagenarians) for an evening of home-grown Island dance.

“DanceTheYard and Friends” also featured the work of two visiting choreographers. The performance opened with a “community dance work” (meaning anyone who could attend the rehearsals and performance could dance in the piece) choreographed by artist-in-residence at the Yard Godfrey Muwulya.

Godfrey is a master dance and music teacher from Uganda. He came to the Yard for the first time in 2012 to work as an assistant teacher for Deborah Damast, director of the Yard’s “KidsDoDance!” summer program. This past winter he returned to the Island to work as a lead teaching artist in the Yard’s “Making It” program, a role he will play again this school year.

Godfrey divides his time between Uganda and the States. In 2013 he opened a home for talented children with poor backgrounds in Uganda, to provide a safe place for them to thrive. The house caters to child performers of some kind, whether dancers or musicians, and Godfrey purchases all their food and books for their school programs. His goal is to support them so they can have a chance at making it to a university. Godfrey is currently fundraising for this program. For more information on the home and how to become involved, please contact the Yard’s director of Island programs and education, Jesse Keller, at