Herb Lockwood Prize Acceptance Speech

photo by Andy Duback

I was born in 1947 into a middle class family (there was a middle class back then because we had a more balanced, equitable tax structure). Living in the country, I was given lots of latitude to roam, invent and figure things out on my own. I just had to be home by supper and do my chores.

My mother was the one who encouraged my budding creative efforts. She also was the one who made me aware of our advantages as she picked raspberries with my brother and me and told us about migrant workers and their children who did this labor all day long. She shaped my view on society and trusted that I would bring fairness to all interactions. She was gentle, kind, quiet, strong and patient. I miss her and thank her.

In 1974, I moved to Burlington where, by 1979, I found dance. It was what I had been seeking and threw myself into learning.

I was in the right place at the right time. People’s Airlines made travel affordable – NYC round trip for $19 and Europe for $99, enabling me to study, first-hand, the work of several choreographers I admired. Bernie was the mayor. Artists had a place at the table.

The contemporary dance community was given free space at the top of Memorial Auditorium to create, no strings attached. There was a clear understanding that offering artists access and support would enrich the community in profound and lasting ways. The atmosphere was exciting and very political. The doors were open and I and many others stepped through. It was a lively and potent time.

In the three weeks since I got the phone call from Todd, I have been thinking about all the people I got to know through the art I make. A very long list of people saying YES, brought me and my work to this point.  Initially, I start something alone, but for the rest of the journey, I am in good and steady company.

Dancers, Musicians, artistic collaborators, teachers, mentors, colleagues, volunteers, donors, presenters, business people, city and town officials, neighbors, family, and friends.

Without your belief in my ability, I would not be here, and that is the truth. I want to speak this very long list, but it would take the rest of the afternoon and night and we would need a warm coat. Instead, know that behind each name is a pyramid of people who lift every single artist on their journey.

Thank you to…

Todd Lockwood who honors his brother Herb with significant and unfettered support for artists.

Ellen Smith Ahern, Emily Boedecker, Selene Colburn and Lida Winfield, – the board of Cradle to Grave Arts – who know what it takes to be an artist and give to each other the gift of deep attention.

My artistic collaborators in The Quarry Project, the biggest project of my career. – Leslie Anderson, Julia Barstow, Lukas Huffman, Amy LePage, Linda Provost, and Andric Severance, who commit themselves to the highest quality work in this amazing site under these extraordinary conditions. The calm each person brings to every step has made this project not just possible but truly profound.

And Dave Severance with whom I have walked, weathering the numerous storms of living together. For 30 years, we have begun our day with tea, looking out at our world, quietly breathing in the new day. He enriched my pieces with his considerable talents as a set designer, carpenter, composer, editor, collaborating artist and thoughtful problem-solver.   Thank you.

In closing, I have written a poem that seems to sum it up for me.

To leave the shore & simply slip out into this powerful space

Moving slowly in and on the water,

Well over my head,

towards that mysterious gap that shimmers.

Hannah Dennison – September 15, 2020