Built on Stilts celebrates 24 years with community dance event

Teo and Marta Azzollini perform at a previous Built on Stilts event. — Sally Cohn

Built on Stilts will share all kinds of original dances on film at builtonstilts.org and through social media beginning August 13. According to a press release, viewers can expect at least 20 new videos from dozens of familiar Built on Stilts artists, plus some new faces. New videos will be posted regularly through August 22.

On Saturday, August 22, from 3 to 3:30 pm, keep your eyes peeled for sightings at various sites in Oak Bluffs, at the M.V. Museum, and other surprise Island locations. Approximately 40 movers will share a simultaneous performance of BeHereNow, a socially distant “flash mob” spanning the Island and beyond its shores.

The flash mob features choreography contributed by numerous members of the Built on Stilts community and arranged by Abby Bender with help from Laura and Grace Hall, and an original, commissioned score by Brian Hughes.

Whether in public together and safely distanced apart, or solo and intentionally unseen, all participants will perform the same piece to the same music at the same moment in time. They’ll be spotted in backyards, rooftops, parks, fields, monuments, hilltops, beaches and more and from as far away as Western Massachusetts, New York City, Oakland, Asheville, and Toronto.

The original idea was to maintain the annual tradition of Built On Stilts, to dance together in solidarity for their love of dance during this time of quarantine, the release says, and less about performance to benefit viewers. As restrictions have changed, several dancers are happy to be seen by passersby. Employing props including water, sand, and rock that represent the passage of time, and the changing but eternal beauty of the Island, participants follow “a structured improvisation that aims to connect us to each other and to our footing. It aims to remind us that art making will and must go on, no matter the circumstance,” the release states. Visit builtonstilts.org for more information.