When you reinterpret classical ballet choreography, portraying the story of a farm in three seasons in full-length productions, there is no curtain concealing the dance troupe while they assemble into place. The only scenery is the farm’s lush fields. Dancers can’t wear toe shoes since dancing on grass is demanding. The turns become more challenging and dancers feel every nuance of the ground. Grass becomes the new platform.
It’s the brainchild of Chatch Pregger, a professional dancer who performed with the Boston, Washington, D.C. and Houston ballets. As a native Vermonter, he wanted to create a performance piece around the state’s bucolic rhythms.
Pregger had two goals when starting the project—helping local farms and bringing ballet to a new crowd. “We wanted to dance outside and make it accessible to an audience that might not come to a theater,” he says says.
Ballet is one of the lowest attended of all performing arts according to a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) survey. Of the American adults who go to see arts performances, only 2.9 percent attended the ballet in 2008. The only art less popular was opera (at 2.1 percent). But the NEA study also found that outdoor festivals were the most popular type of arts event—perhaps because of their air of accessibility. Parents in particular are often apprehensive about bringing their children to a theater. But when the ballet is taking place in a field or beside a barn, “The kids can run around,” Pregger says.
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