Now in its third season of combining farms, food, community, live music, and dance, Vermont’s Farm to Ballet kicks off its summer performances July 15, including two dates at Shelburne Farms, July 23 and Aug. 13.
The lead role of the dancing farmer this season has been cast with a real Vermont farmer – and dancer – Avi Waring of Wolcott. A Vermont native, homesteader, accomplished dancer and dance educator, Waring is co-founder of Ballet Wolcott and the Montpelier Movement Collective. She lives on 17 acres in Wolcott where she raises goats, chickens, and has a garden with her partner Kee and son Jas, who also 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,” Waring said.
With Farm to Ballet since it began in 2015, Waring’s 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 was inspired after teaching adult ballet classes outdoors and considering his interest in local food production. “I am a ballet dancer –not a farmer– but I think healthy food production is crucial to a healthy society,” he said.
The shows take place outdoors in farm settings without traditional staging, lights, or backdrops of a theater-based performance. Audiences can enjoy the pastoral setting of the farm, animals, equipment, live music, and learn more about what is involved in operating a sustainable farming operation. Set to music including Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky, 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, Farm to Ballet raised over $23,000. Performances in July and August will be presented at eight Vermont farms: Moonrise Farms in Essex July 15, Heartwood Farm in South Albany July 16, Golden Well Farm and Apiaries in New Haven July 22, Billings Farm in Woodstock August 5, Studio Hill in Shaftsbury Aug. 6, Retreat Farm in Brattleboro Aug. 12, and two performances at Shelburne Farms July 23 and Aug. 13.
Farm to Ballet is a production of Ballet Vermont. Visit www.farmtoballet.org for more information, performance details and ticket prices.