BURLINGTON, Vt. — Farms, food, community, connection, live music, and the graceful art of ballet. This is what Vermont’s Farm to Ballet is all about, and the unique project starts a third summer season in a few weeks. The lead role of the dancing farmer will be performed by Vermont native and homesteader Avi Waring, an accomplished dancer and dance educator. She is co-founder of Ballet Wolcott and the Montpelier Movement Collective. She lives on seventeen acres in Wolcott where she raises goats, chickens, and has a garden with her partner Kee and son Jas who joins the cast this year as a dancing goat.
“I love performing with the sky as the ceiling and the earth as the floor. There is no better place to be in the summer than Vermont, and to dance outside to beautiful live music is an amazing gift,” she says. She has danced in the production since it began in 2015, and her role this year as the farmer reflects her everyday life as a steward of the land. “I feel like there is a set of rhythms that farming presents which is a lot like Farm to Ballet,” she explained. “I find the farm cycle of spring planting, summer tending, and fall harvesting so fulfilling, and I am excited to express that through dance.”
Farm to Ballet is the brainchild of former professional dancer and Vermont native Chatch Pregger who dreamed up the project after teaching adult ballet classes in an outdoor setting. He says his interest in local food production is what motivated him to take on this project. “I am a ballet dancer –not a farmer– but I think healthy food production is crucial to a healthy society.”
The show takes place without the traditional staging, lights, or backdrop of a theater-based performance. Audiences will enjoy the pastoral setting of the farm, animals, equipment, live music, and learn more about what is involved in operating a sustainable farming operation.
The ballet has gained local and national attention. In the past few years, Farm to Ballet has inspired articles and stories in the Boston Globe, on National Public Radio, and on the USDA blog. Most recently, Vermont PBS and Velocity Media produced a documentary about the making of the project.
Set to music including Vivaldi and Swan Lake, the ballet tells the story of a Vermont farming operation from spring to fall. The performances serve as fundraisers to support and honor the work of local farmers and conservation organizations. Last year, the project raised over $23,000. The production is presented at eight farms throughout Vermont and includes a new farm this year in the Northeast Kingdom. Venues include Moonrise Farms in Essex, Heartwood Farm in South Albany, Golden Well Farm and Apiaries in New Haven, Billings Farm in Woodstock, Studio Hill in Shaftsbury, Retreat Farm in Brattelboro, and two performances at Shelburne Farms.
For Waring, Farm to Ballet imitates the life which she lives each day on her Vermont farm. “As a farmer, I know that there are lots of struggles, but there is also an essential joy in the care of animals and having a relationship with plants and animals and that is reflected when I perform,” she said.
Farm to Ballet is a production of Ballet Vermont. You can learn more at their website balletvermont.org and visit farmtoballet.org to purchase tickets for performances which run July through August. Stay in touch with Farm to Ballet via Facebook and Instagram.
–Farm to Ballet
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