Once again, Farm to Ballet ushers in another season, using grass in place of a wooden stage. The yearly dance program kicks off July 16 at Charlotte’s Philo Ridge Farm, the first of seven statewide performances. The dancers have rehearsed for months and will be accompanied by a string sextet playing Vivaldi.
With the mission to promote and highlight Vermont’s cultural and agricultural lifestyle, the shows are full-length productions. There is no curtain concealing the dance troupe while they assemble into place, and the only scenery is the farm’s lush fields. Dancers can’t wear toe shoes, the traditional ballet accessory, since dancing on grass is demanding. The turns become more challenging and dancers feel every nuance of the ground.
The show reinterprets classical ballet choreography, portraying the story of a farm in three seasons. At Philo Ridge Farm, a diversified farm location, cedar trees will lend grace and presence to the performance.
The audience is invited to arrive before 5pm for tours of the farm and a meal. The performance begins at 6:30pm, and in the event of rain, the production will be cancelled. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Farm to Ballet Project, said Diana McCargo, Philo Ridge Farm owner.
“We were overwhelmed with the community response last year. Sharing our farm-raised products with community members from near and far on a beautiful summer evening is part of our vision for Philo Ridge Farm,” said McCargo. “The Farm to Ballet Project is a vehicle for us to invite people to this historic Charlotte farm while supporting a creative arts initiative.”
The performance is a homecoming for one of the dancers. Charlotte Hardie, a Charlotte-native and McCargo’s daughter, is one of the 23 dancers in the production. Hardie began taking dance classes while she was a college student.
Hardie said her work with the Farm to Ballet Project underscores her devotion to her art and to nature. She incorporates movement and art into her professional life, as well. Hardie is a certified yoga instructor, an art teacher at the Mt. Philo Barn Art Camp, and a jewelry maker with a Burlington-based company.