Let’s dance

It’s all about collaboration at the Yard this summer.

Larissa Velez-Jackson/LVJ Performance Co. comes to the Yard from May 30 to June 9. — Courtesy The Yard

There’s something to thrill everyone at the Yard this summer. It’s planning an extraordinary lineup of residencies, performances, and collaborations with Slough Farm, the Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition, and Featherstone Center for the Arts. Yvonne Mendez, the Yard’s program director, says, “We’re trying to identify places across the Island where we can bring dance to the community.”

The summer lineup includes eight invigorating residencies, starting with Larissa Velez-Jackson/LVJ Performance Co. from May 30 to June 9. Velez-Jackson uses improvisation as the main tool for research and creation, focusing on personhood and the dancing, sound-making body. She currently survives multiple myeloma cancer, and the June 7 performance of “Protecting Complexity with the Star Pû Method” focuses on healing as a core facet, using movement, breath, communal connection, and vocal sound. Through this performance, LVJ asks whether the performance provides a space that makes healing actually possible.

Next up will be Lucky Plush Productions from June 9 to 20, with performances on June 11 and 12 at 7 pm. Their unusual piece, “Rink Life,” is focused on the dance life that was going on in roller rinks during the 1970s. Intriguingly, they will be singing their playlist. Mendez says, “Because it’s ’70s music and they’re coming during Pride Month, we’re looking to maybe have some kind of friendly family celebration.”

From June 21 to July 3 will be Urban Bush Women, with their presentations taking place across the Island. This well-established company, engaged in a multiyear residency, has been coming and talking with different groups on the Island, focused on the African American community, working with folks at the Campgrounds and the African American Heritage Trail, as well as the Wampanoag tribe. They’ve been doing interviews and video filming, and integrating that into the development of a piece that will be presented in 2023. 

“They’re an example of a group doing the kind of work we’re looking to do more of, which is deep integration with different communities, and creating a piece that a lot of people can own,” Mendez says.

Adele Myers and Dancers will be here from July 9 to 18, with performances on July 15 and 16 at 7 pm of “TWIST,” which stands for “These Women in Space and Time.” It’s a piece about empowering women in their own bodies and existence. There also will be educational and engagement activities called “Twist Talks,” about storytelling, one of which will include movement.

World-renowned Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company will be here from July 18 to 25 and will present a number of pieces from their repertoire at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center on July 23 at 7 pm. 

Next up will be Danza Orgánica & Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Members, in residence from July 25 to August 2. This multiyear engagement started two years ago, with plans to present the final piece, “We Still Dance,” as an in-school and family presentation in the fall around Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Brownbody is an African American figure skating dance troupe that choreographs on ice. They will offer a Learn-to-Skate workshop along with other engagement activities from August 2 to 15, with performances on August 11 and 12 at 7 pm at the Ice Arena.

The performance schedule will wind down with Ephrat Asherie Dance, which will be here from August 16 to 29, with performances on August 26 and 27 at 7 pm.

For those who are so inspired, there are many ways to get moving yourself with the Yard’s offerings throughout the summer. On Wednesdays, there will be a workshop series with the guest Artists-in-Residence. Saturdays’ classes will be a hybrid between local and guest artists, including a multigenerational, family-friendly workshop series by Claire Page, “Get It Started Movement.” Following her will be Godfrey Muwulya, a Ugandan master teacher doing African dance and drumming in collaboration with the Chilmark Community Center and Slough Farm. Island artist DJ FlavYa is doing a workshop titled “Ecstatic Dance,” which is a movement across the country that’s centered around the idea that you don’t have to have DJ music that’s connected to drinking, partying, or drugging, but rather about wellness, beauty, movement, and community. 

From July 11 to 15 will be a drop-in Adult Movement class with Naomi Goldberg Haas, who will be returning this summer with multigenerational workshops. 

If you want to start your morning with a bit of centering amid the hubbub of the summer festivities on-Island, Mollie Doyle will be teaching yoga on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, focusing on bringing consciousness and ease to the body and mind.

“We have a very full summer season, and it’s very exciting,” Mendez says. “I think it’s going to touch the lives of many different kinds of people in a lot of different ways.”

Watch for updated information, which will be available at dancetheyard.org.