Friday gala concert at the Latchis features beautiful dance

BRATTLEBORO — Artists from throughout the country will join the Southern Vermont Dance Festival for Friday's gala concert, 8 p.m. at the Latchis Theater, 50 Main St.. This will be an incredible performance chock full of dancers and choreographers at the top of their field

Featured throughout the festival is Desert Dance Theater. In the Friday Gala desert dance will perform a work inspired by Martin Luther King. "We're on the Move" (Excerpt from "Free at Last: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.") This work is a depiction of the 1960s' civil rights marches where police used fire hoses, billy clubs and physical brutality against peaceful protesters marching for their rights. It is a tribute to the perseverance, tenacity and faith of the courageous protestors as they stood up for what was rightfully theirs according to our American Constitution! Desert Dance is a contemporary dance theater company in Arizona that was founded in 1979. The company is comprised of experienced performers, choreographers and enthusiastic educators who perform an eclectic variety of dances and strive to bring openness, spontaneity and diversity of dance to the public.

Returning this year is work coming to us by the Wonder Twins, Billy and Bobby McClain, formerly on tour with New Kids on The Block and performing in music videos and on stage as back up dancers, these artists have brought their talent to the street and will show their work throughout this year's festival. With the technical facility of hip hop, the sophistication of the glory days of the Cotton Club, the flash of Rat Pack era Las Vegas, and elements of vaudeville, animation, robot, tap and mime.

Billbob Brown will also return to the stage as a five year veteran of Southern Vermont Dance Festival with his work "El Muro Hermoso (the Beautiful Wall)" This work uses photos, maps, images, sounds, and movements from the existing Mexico-U.S. border wall, to convey the complexity of this issue. This passionate duet combines with video projection mapping on physical boxes that alternately become jail bars, rocky crags in the desert, or the wall itself. Brown, director of Chaos Theory Dance, was Chair of the School of Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, and before that the director of the Dance Program at UMass Amherst, part of the Five College Dance Department. Co-founder and artistic director of Desert Dance Theatre in Phoenix (now in its 37th year) in the 1980s, he has performed and taught across the globe, including tours in Japan, Thailand, Great Britain, and Mexico; created shows for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and choreographed and performed in TV work and commercials for the Chicago Cubs, Molson Canadian Beer, Disney Studios, and ABC-TV, which have received numerous awards. His Emmy-award winning video, "Opening Doors," with Buen Viaje, has been seen on PBS stations across the country.

This evening performance will also highlight returning artists Toni Nagy and Cyndal Ellis, owner and manager of Sobo Studio. Their wok features live music and a stunning duet that encapsulates two very poignant ways of taking in and wanting information. Another local favorite Sophia Marx takes to the stage showing her first work as an SVDF gala artist. Dynamic, on Pointe and unexpected is her work.

New festival artist Alison Cook-Beatty will show her work "Tintinnabuli (Excerpt)" From the Latin tintinnabulum, a bell, Tintinnabuli is a compositional style created by the Estonian composer Arvo P rt. Musically, P rt's tintinnabular music is characterized by two types of voices, the "tintinnabular voice" which arpeggiates the tonic triad, and the second of which moves diatonically in stepwise motion. Alison Cook-Beatty is the choreographer/artistic director of Alison Cook Beatty Dance, based and founded in New York City since 2012. Her work has been commissioned by Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Carolina Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet School NYC, Opera Dolce, NYU, The Boston Conservatory at Berkeley, Fort Hamilton High School, and Ballet Next. She has been awarded the 2013 sjDANCEco award for Artistic Merit & Best Choreography, the Alumni Choreography Commission Award for The Boston Conservatory of Music at Berkeley 2015, and the Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship Award. As a dancer, she has performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Taylor 2, among others.

New artists to this years festival include the following: Maurice Fraga, Ekilibre Dance Company showing his work, "Firepoint" where two women follow a raw and emotional journey together where one seeks solitude, while the other seeks to provide comfort and reassurance. Nozama Dance Collective, showing their work "Vortex". Finally new to the SVDF stage is JP Dance Group showing their work "99." This work was originally choreographed in 2013 as a response to economic recession in the United States. This recession caused social backlash that included the Occupy Wall Street movement and the coining of the term, "the one percent," a label which points out the growing economic gap between the highest one percent of income earners and everyone else. Choreographer Julie Petrusak earned her degree from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in Dance Program after studying ballet at the Maryland Youth Ballet. In 2013 she co-directed and choreographed three productions at Riverbank State Park's Cultural Complex in Harlem, NYC that reached over 1,000 New York City school children.

Also showing her work in the Friday gala is festival director, Brenda Lynn Siegel. Her company IBIT Dance Company has both a professional and pre-professional company. The work "Her Name Is Adrienne" performed by the professional company depicts the raw emotional battle of the last six months political atmosphere. A work that starts in the middle and ends there as well because Siegel believes that is what fighting this battle is like. A fight one has to engage in, but, one that often seems to go nowhere. The work shows the small progressions amidst the battle.

Tickets to this performance are $18 for students/$24 general in advance at


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