March 2018 Update

Photographer: Julia Barstow

Remember summer?
Here are Sofia and Andric on the stage in August, experimenting with sounds in the quarry.  Just to give you some perspective, in the far distant right-hand corner of the photo, you can maybe see me sitting on the rock ledge, listening.
Here is a short film by Michael Fisher from that day.

February was a busy month spent nudging The Quarry Project along.  The first half was punctuated with overnight visits to Burlington for meetings with project planners. The second half was devoted to writing two major grant applications.

Writing these two grants, as arduous as they were, gave me a firmer grasp on how to speak about the Project.  Heading into the spring, Kristen will be taking over the next batch of grants.  Come April, Amy, Laurel and I will be in the studio for a 4 day choreographic residency, letting our thinking bodies begin to create the dances!

On March 7th, we (the community engagement team of Christine Holt, Amy LePage, Molly Kaye and myself) will have our first Community Information Gathering (CIG) at the Barre Town School for the residents of Websterville. We are interested in hearing their quarry stories which, in turn, will form the foundation for creative ideas that bubble up as we fashion the piece. We will have three more CIGs this month and then several more throughout the year to ensure a good connection to our hosts and a welcoming environment in which the project can grow and flourish.

For all my past site pieces, Leslie Anderson (costume designer and set consultant) has crafted an Audience Response book for audience members to record their experience of the performance. At our recent CIG team meeting, Christine suggested the book be a reflection of the entire scope and scale of the creative process. With that broader idea in mind, Leslie has created The Quarry Project book that will be present at all public gatherings. In it, people can record their memories of the Wells Lamson Quarry, their responses to the gatherings, and thoughts on the project’s progress. It will have its first entries on March 7th.

Thank you for your attention and interest in The Quarry Project.
When next I write, it will be spring!!


Linda Provost: Graphic Designer

January 2018 Update

Photographer: Julia Barstow

Lately in conversations, the process of The Quarry Project has come to be referred to as slow dance, honoring the time it takes to bring forth the desired quality. Here is a lovely, slow snippet from Michael Fisher who was there to capture our experiments this past summer.

I am grateful for all those who have jumped on board to help with this multi-faceted work. Your involvement at this nascent stage is definitely contributing to the shape of the outcome. Due to the project’s many layers, we are finding leaders who will form “teams” to concentrate on each particular aspect. Alana Rancourt Phinney has agreed to be the Media team leader and will be gathering people to help. We have a motley crew, leaderless at this point, working on the platform for the audience, leaning into the challenge. I have had several meetings to do with a secret aspect of the choreography requiring rigging, with more to be revealed in a few months. The group for Community Engagement just met and are planning a series of meetings with the residents of Websterville who will be our hosts. It has been a delight to be getting to know so many people in this process. Together we are laying a strong foundation for The Quarry Project.

After a setback with a pair of grant writers who left the project, we have gained our footing, made the right connections, and have submitted the first grant applications with more in the pipeline. Sarah Judd, our new lead grant writer was in the audience for Dear Pina and ready to buy a block of tickets for the hoped-for second go around in 2013. She has extensive experience in both writing art-focused grants and in arts development, and also connects with the creative process through her partner who sculpts snow, a most temporary art form for sure!

I’d also like to introduce Kristen Fountain, who has written successful Economic Development grants, and responded to our inquiry saying she wanted to write about meaningful, community based art projects. She introduced herself thus: I enjoy modern dance, studied it a bit in college and wrote about it with relative frequency during my previous life as a journalist in the Upper Valley. I was a big fan of your “Dear Pina” project, though only got to see it on film. 

During our first fundraising drive, we raised nearly $17,000. This gives us traction for Phase Two Development expenses which are $114,480. If you want to help financially, please make a secure donation here.  Contributions go directly towards The Quarry Project.

If you are interested in offering your skills, please click here to sign-up on my website and Molly, my excellent assistant, who, amongst other things, is organizing the volunteer teams, will be in touch. Help is needed in the following arenas: Media, Fundraising, Technical, Education, History, Institutional Partnerships, and Production.

Thank you,
I leave you with this quote that says it all for me today.
If you know who wrote it, please tell me.“Art is at the core of our most intimate being and a part of the nature of things as surely as is a tree, a lake, a cloud. When we ignore it, even as spectators, we deaden ourselves in this brief transit.”

Linda Provost: Graphic Designer

Help Commission the Quarry Project

Photographer: Julia Barstow  /  Dancer: Amy LePage

Since clearing the initial hurdle of access permission to the Wells Lamson as the site for a new dance/theatre project, I and my core production partners have been taking the next steps.

Currently, we are gathering people to focus on particular branches of the project: Media, Fundraising, Technical, Administration, Education, Community, History, Institutional Partnerships, and Production; so many layers in this three-phase project, all important to the stability and success of the final performance.

In preparation for the coming summer of further testing and refinement in the Quarry, my collaborating artists and I are working on choreography, sound, lighting, set, and costume designs. It is my goal that by the summer, I am focusing the majority of my energy and attention on the creation and direction of the piece.

Last year, two people gave money towards this project (even though it was still just a desired dream) which allowed us to pay for materials and construction of the prototype stages as well as initial research into appropriate grants. Now, with permission in hand, I am turning to you to help jump-start the Phase Two budget of $106,500.

You know the importance of the act of creating and the many ways that art enhances and transforms our lives. Thank you for your past support. Here are three ways you can be part of commissioning the new work:

  1. You can make a secure donation below
  2. You can send a check to Cradle to Grave Arts – PO Box 8 – Chelsea VT 05038.
  3. You can contact me for details for a donation of stock.

If you would like to join a support ensemble to volunteer your skills, click here to sign-up on my website. Help is needed in the following arenas: Media, Fundraising, Technical, Administration, Education, Community, History, Institutional partnerships, and Production. Together, we can slowly and surely bring this unique project to a powerful completion.


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Your secure donation is tax-deductible and goes directly to supporting the creation and production of The Quarry Project. If you prefer to donate by check, please mail your contribution to Cradle to Grave Arts, P.O. Box 8, Chelsea, VT 05038. For details on donations of stock, please contact Hannah.


Graphic Designer: Linda Provost


Good News!

Cradle to Grave Arts just signed an Agreement with Polycor/Rock of Ages that clears the way to producing a dance/theatre project in the Wells Lamson quarry, summer 2019. Though it took a year and a half for the permission, it was a very instructive/productive period of time.
Here are two images – one from our July days with dancers on my neighbor’s pond; and one from our late August sonic/perspective/lighting test day in the quarry – and a short video, filmed and edited by Michael Fisher.


photo by Emily Boedecker


photo by Julia Barstow


Filmed & Edited by Michael Fisher


I thank the following people who gave their support, skills and time during Phase One. Each of you contributed to this rich “Stone Soup.”  Without your collective weight leaning into the possibility of such a project, I would not be at this threshold.

Ellen Smith Ahern
Leslie Anderson
Julia Barstow
Nick Bennet
Philip Bither
Emily Boedecker
Nicole Carignan
Peter W Carpenter
Denise Casey
Peter Clavelle
Coulter Cluett
Selene Colburn
Sara Coffey
Emilye Pelow Corbett
Nick DeFriez
Michael Fisher
Patricia Fontaine
Drew Frazier
Tom Gardner
Anna & Kim Goodling
Sue Higby
Tom Hill
Christine Holt
Sofia Hirsch
Lukas Huffman
Jesse Huffman
Paul Hutchins
Stefan Jacobs
Laurel Jenkins
Molly Kaye
Patrick Kelly
Pam Knights
Babette Kurylo
J Ladd
Amy LePage
George Little
Sudie Marcuse
Jackie Marshall
Terence Mathieu
Jeff Morse
Susan Morse
Sara McMahon
Patrick Perus
Leigh K Phillips
Alana Phinney
Bob Pope
Angelique Priscilla
Rebecca Purdom
Janet Ressler
Pat Robins
Genevieve Robichaud
Andrea Rogers
Josh Sainz
Jan Sandman
Coltere Savidge
Lisa Schamberg
Andric Severance
Dave Severance
Dan Smith
Jay Southgate
Ellen Temple
Brenda Torpy
Laura Trieschmann
Chris Violette
Elaine Wang
Avi Waring
Alec Webb
Jess Wilson
Lida Winfield
Willow Wonder

Click below to make a secure donation.
All donations are tax-deductible and go directly to supporting the creation and production of The Quarry Project. If you prefer to donate by check, please mail your contribution to Cradle to Grave Arts, P.O. Box 8, Chelsea, VT 05038. For details on donations of stock, please contact Hannah.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

With excitement and gratitude,

December Appeal for Support

The Waterfront Project, 1997 / photo by Chris Bertelsen

In years past, I have gotten great pleasure in these stark, grey, stripped-down days of November/December. As I write this funding request to you for the educational part of what I do, I am realigning, taking stock of what has happened, and making plans for 2017.

Right along side all the profoundly disturbing news of the past months, is joy and love. Hearing of the actions at Standing Rock Reservation brought tears to my eyes and a feeling of, “Oh, this is the new path” through this muddied, confused, and polarization time. I am grateful for my training in improvisation that has shaped my life’s course and helped me embrace change. This technique demands that I know myself, feel deeply, trust my instincts, be present, see the big picture, speak the truth, rely on others, collaborate, and erase the boundaries that separate. I am committed to practicing these abilities in all my relationships, those close and known as well as those distant and not familiar.

This list of values is what I have to share with those I mentor. These life-skills also happen to be the skills most valued in performers of excellence. As I expect of myself, I encourage my students to close the gap between onstage and offstage persona, to strive to be fully, authentically engaged, and to do no harm in this short life.

I am asking for your financial support for Lisa Spencer’s and Denise Casey’s course of study. They are powerful, effective, contributing members of their communities who make a difference. I am humbled and honored to be their mentor.

Lisa and Denise are in their second year working with me. Each woman’s schedule is specific to her needs. Once a week, Lisa meets with me for three hours. Once a month, Denise and I meet either in person or on the phone. In the interim, they have individual or group sessions with the team of teachers: Sara McMahon (Fundamentals of Movement); Susan Borg (voice); Lida Winfield (performance skills); and Rebecca Dietzel (kinesiology and nutrition).

Your financial donation will pay for a year of training with the teachers. Please help us meet our goal of $9400. Be a partner in this educational endeavor. Your tax-deductible donation can be made online at our secure site or checks can be made out to Cradle to Grave Arts and mailed to PO Box 8 in Chelsea VT 05038. We are grateful for your belief in what we at Cradle to Grave Arts do in the wide world.

In closing, we five teachers are discussing the idea of an “open studio” sometime in the spring to offer those interested in process a chance to see and experience what we are working on with our students. If you would like to be notified please send me an email so that I can inform you.


Education Update and Appeal for Support


Photograph by Leslie Anderson


I trust your summer was enjoyable and that fall is equally pleasurable. My summer was full of ideas, plans, conversations, gardening, swimming, harvesting, and a lovely, relaxed workshop I led on site-specific dance at the Breeding Barn, Shelburne Farms. (See above phone)  It was good to be back at the barn – lots of memories. Now, my teaching schedule is in full swing and I am asking for your support for the educational work I do in the community.

I continue to mentor three students:  Coulter is in his third year and Lisa and Denise are in their second year studying under my direction. My main role is guiding them to an essential understanding of their unique movement language and what it takes to be a fully engaged performer.

Once a week, I meet for three hours with Coulter and Lisa one-on-one. Then once a month, we are together for a five-hour block focusing on the duet form in all its permutations. Every other month, Denise and I meet and concentrate on whole body awareness through movement exercises; in between our sessions, we check-in to keep current. They participate in a number of public classes and workshops that further their training.

As part of the mentorship, they study with a team of teachers:

  • Once a month, they have individual sessions with Sara McMahon to research Fundamentals of Movement;
  • Denise works with Susan Borg on voice three times a month;
  • They come together to investigate performance skills with Lida Winfield every six weeks;
  • Three to four times a year, they each have a session with Rebecca Dietzel to address kinesiology and nutritional questions that support their pathway.

Coulter is maturing as a dancer, honing and refining his technique. This year, the overarching focus in our work together is to become aware and let go of his habitual patterns that no longer serve him.

Lisa and I are focusing on incorporating her physical strength and endurance. Lisa’s challenge is to be specific and articulate in gestures and direction while moving as vigorously as possible. This study will lead to a clearer sense of the full scope of her movement possibilities.

Denise’s primary path is to heal her vocal chords and learn to sing from her entire body. She is a strong performer who is taking the time to explore a deeper understanding of her instrument in order to return to the stage, expanded.

These are three powerful people who are effective, contributing members of their communities.  I am humbled and delighted to be working with them. The ingredients we bring to our study together in the studio – honesty, being present, knowing self, trusting instincts, supporting one another – are key to their future public efforts.

I am asking for your financial backing to help pay for the year of training for Lisa and Denise. The FlynnCenter in Burlington already offers scholarship assistance for both, and Contemporary Dance in Montpelier has a barter arrangement for Lisa. Your donation will pay for the team of teachers, including myself.

Here is the budget:
1000 for Sara McMahon
1500 for Susan Borg
440 for Rebecca Dietzel
1200 for Lida Winfield
5450 for Hannah Dennison
   100 for extra, unforeseen training costs (e.g. performance tickets, books)
$9690 TOTAL

You are a crucial partner in this educational endeavor. Thank you for your belief in what we at Cradle to Grave Arts do in the wide world. Your tax-deductible donation can be made online at our secure site or checks can be made out to Cradle to Grave Arts and mailed to PO Box 8 in Chelsea, VT 05038.


News from Hannah

Hay Project - Bertelson
The Hay Project, 1998 / photo by Chris Bertelsen

This past year (September – June), I have been a mentor for three students: Coulter Cluett and Lisa Spencer once a week, and Denise Casey once a month. They have developed relationships with other teachers – Sara McMahon, Rebecca Dietzel, Lida Winfield, and Susan Borg – whom they see mostly once a month. In addition, each has attended classes at Contemporary Dance and/or through FlynnArts, and taken a variety of workshops to deepen their understanding of their own expressive body.

It is a gift to witness their courageous efforts and a delight to see their individual skills develop. My gratitude to all those who gave financial support to Lisa and Denise’s mentorship. You helped make their training possible.

This past year, I returned to the world of teaching improvisational skills through a succession of workshops presented by FlynnArts. The Improvisation Laboratory offered, to those new to the form as well as those with experience, a setting for exploring solo, duet, trio and group movement scores. What a privilege for me to see the participants opening to this world of the unknown. Each month, they grew in their ability to be present with themselves and others.

For the third year, I was the curator of a cycle of master classes for contemporary dance artists called Looking Deeper. With the help and partnership of Lida Winfield, we offered the dance community a chance to heighten their improvisation technique with some of the best teachers residing in the state.

Next year, we will be partnering with the Flynn and UVM Dance Department to present four intensive weekends of improvisation: Two Saturdays will be led by Lida, and two by me (Improvisation Laboratory); Two Sundays will be led by Susan Sgorbati, and two by Penny Campbell (Looking Deeper). Each day will be from 10-4. Saturdays will be for those new to improvisation as well as those with training in the technique. Sundays will be for those with extensive improvisation experience. The dates are October 15-16, December 3-4, February 11-12, and April 8-9. More information will be forthcoming.

Stepping in for Laurel Jenkins (who got an offer she could not refuse – a major presentation in a prestigious LA festival), I will be making, with those in attendance, a site-specific piece at Shelburne Farms, July 18-22. We will be working in and around The Breeding Barn to create Figure/Ground2 with a showing on Friday the 22nd at 7pm. This is part of the summer contemporary dance offerings by the Flynn. For more information please go to FlynnArts.

Creating new work
Of late, I have been merging my art practice into my everyday life (practice), seeking to erase the seams and differences in the dance I do in the studio and the “dance” I do in the garden. The duet with Sara McMahon this winter, as part of Clare Byrne’s in-progress series – Eat my Art Out, was one such melding. At the last minute, Sara came down with a cold and stayed home. We decided we would present anyway, she in her bed, I at the Montpelier studio, reminiscent of our distance dances when she lived in Alaska and I was in Vermont. At 8:10pm, she and I danced our improvised duet to a raucous electronic score by David Severance and lots of sighs on my part.

Finally, I have been given permission to be in an abandoned quarry near Barre this summer to experiment and discover what is entailed in making a piece for a liquid setting. I will be proceeding very slowly as this is a complex project with many new challenges. If it seems possible, then you will be hearing from me with photos and proposals as I seek the needed support. This time around, I am determined to work with a producer. If you have a suggestion, please be in touch.

Thank you for your continued interest. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others, and visit my newly reconstructed website

Have a lovely summer.

Cradle to Grave Arts News

Threads and Thresholds, 2015  /  Photo by Emily Boedecker

Threads and Thresholds Film Update
It is complete Lukas Huffman did a lovely piece of work, a dream, a memory fragment.  What a pleasure it was working with him. He would love to hear from you. Click on the title above to see it. The film is on RETN (Burlington) and will be on ORCAMedia (Montpelier). Please forward it to friends and family, and let me know your response. If you want a dvd, I’d be happy to make one for you.

Teaching Update
Coulter and Lisa
Each week, when I mentor both Coulter and Lisa in Montpelier, our time together grows richer and more fertile. Last week, the three of us spent four hours focusing on a duet we hope to have ready to show sometime this spring.  When it is ready, you will hear about it.
I am grateful to all who made a donation to support Lisa Spencer’s year with me as her mentor. We reached the goal of $6000.

I have just made an agreement with Denise Casey to be her mentor for six months.  Together we will concentrate on exploring her edges in order to expand her palette for future creations. Denise is passionate, daring and committed. She comes to dance from an athletic background (as did I) and several years in a monastery where she took the Bodhisattva vows of loving kindness. She has immense courage and, as a way to learn by fire, made and performed a solo, Got This Voice . On February 27th at 7pm at Main Street Landing in Burlington, Denise will be showing her latest work Born of Belly.

Improvisation Laboratory
These classes continue to expand as the practice of improvisation deepens for more and more people. I love the training of being in the moment, able to respond, and am thankful for the opportunity to offer these skills to others.

Creation Update
Dave has handed over his new piano quartet to Sofia Hirsch and Liz Reid from Threads and Thresholds who will bring it to rehearsal of their quartet, Northern Third. It is our hope that it will become part of their repertoire.

I am currently in conversation with civic partners for the Quarry Project in order to gain support for this huge project and site permission for this summer. If that  is secured, I will be in there during this summer to start experimenting. Cross your fingers that I am granted the necessary permission.


Late Fall 2015 Update

WFP_astroline hwd_Meg Pond 2


November 16, 2015

An entire season has passed since I last wrote to you. Here is an update and a glimpse into what is currently in progress with Cradle to Grave Arts:

Film of Threads and Thresholds
Over the summer, I selected footage from the two days that Leslie and I shot film at the Kent Museum in Calais during our weekend dress rehearsals. Those selections are now with Lukas Huffman who made such an excellent film of Dear Pina. I am excited to see what he creates. I will notify you when it is complete and posted on my website.

Coulter Cluett is in his second year as my student and I have included another – Lisa Spencer (see photo below). We meet at Contemporary Dance in Montpelier on Mondays where I mentor each of them individually in 2+ hour blocks. Once a month, we delve into duet ideas for 4 hours. My main goals are to: encourage their explorations to find and cultivate their own movement language; match them with other teachers in the area who are doing extraordinary technique and kinesiology work; give them support in understanding their instrument (body); and discuss questions that arise about the world of contemporary dance. I love this work and always leave the studio filled with energy.
Once a month, I am teaching an Improvisation Laboratory at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington. This morning class is open to all levels and focuses on the core technique in what is considered the deepest study for dancers. It is followed by Looking Deeper masterclasses. I have been the curator of this series for two years, bringing in world-class contemporary dance artists to lead our community of dance makers in various avenues of inquiry. We are fortunate to have them in our state. For November, Dai Jain was our teacher. He was a member of Trisha Brown Dance Company for several years and is currently gaining his masters at Bennington, after which he will move to France as a freelance dancer.

My partner Dave is working on a piano quartet. I am working on a duet to the music. We hope to have something to show in the spring. I will keep you posted.

I have another site-specific project in the wings but need help securing permission to use the site. Ever since I moved to this part of Vermont, I have looked longingly at the flooded granite quarries near Barre that I pass on my drive home. I have selected one and am seeking the person/partner who will bring the various civic players on-board. If you have a suggestion, please be in touch.

Financial Support
All donations to Cradle to Grave Arts are tax-deductible and help make possible the creation, development and presentation of contemporary dance in Vermont. This year, your monetary gift will make it possible for Cradle to Grave Arts to pay me to train Lisa.  As of now, I am working pro bono with her. She is a single mother who eeks out a living with Pilates/ gardening/housecleaning. I was close to her age of 33 when I too was smitten with dance. She has enormous potential as a dance artist. Click here to make a secure donation.  A year of my mentoring Lisa = $5000 (10hrs a month x $50 = $500 x 10 months)

Finally, for the past 2-3 years, I have been receiving a weekly newsletter from a woman dance artist (Joanna Rotkin) in the Boulder, CO area.  Her thinking and articulation about this art form brings me to laughter, tears and gratitude. We are part of a large group of artists who are creating a web of radiance in this otherwise often bleak world.  What we have to give to others is needed, maybe more than ever.  Here is how she describes her first time in an improvisation class:

I was told to follow what was true for me, rather than focus on what I looked like or if I was doing it right. I had no idea what this meant, how to do it, or why this instruction was given.

But I came back to the class, over and over and over again.

I slowly began to soften in my belly, and for the first time in my dancing life, I had a felt sense of my body. I had a felt sense of who I was in relationship to everything around me. I had a felt sense of my connection to the earth, and I discovered the larger delight of following my own instinct, intuition, and knowing.      



Lisa and Coulter