Vermont Performance Lab presents a Unique Performance Project that Links to Sheep Farming, September 16 & 17 at 5:00pm

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Westminster West, VT – Interdisciplinary and award-winning choreographer Ann Carlson will be in residency at Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) for two weeks this September to develop a new performance work, Doggie-Hamlet. Carlson’s performance pieces borrow from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art and often dismantle conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Doggie Hamlet is no different: its cast features dancers, musicians, herding dogs, and a flock of sheep.

Carlson is the recipient of over thirty commissions and numerous awards for her artistic work. She has collaborated with a number of animals in her earlier works, including horses, dogs, cats, cows, fish, and goats, who have all performed live with her. In Doggie Hamlet, Carlson explores instinct, sentience, attachment, and loss, and draws on elements from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and the 2008 novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Woblewski to create a unique outdoor performance spectacle that recalls the bucolic impression of a landscape painting or a 3D pastoral poem.

To bring Ann Carlson and her team to Vermont, VPL is collaborating with Yesenia and David Major of Vermont Shepherd Farm to present two preview performances of Doggie Hamlet at the Major’s 250-acre farm in Westminster West, Vermont on Friday, September 16 and Saturday September 17 at 5:00pm. This collaboration grew out of a series of planning visits through VPL with Carlson, and dog handler Diane Cox. In September, Carlson and Cox will bring five performers and three trained herding dogs to work with local musicians and 25 sheep from the Major herd for an intensive rehearsal process to develop Doggie Hamlet.

“We anticipate that Doggie Hamlet will be a vital gathering point for an unlikely but allied community, including dog enthusiasts, scientists in environmental ecology, sheep farmers, music, dance and performance enthusiasts, families and more,” says VPL Director Sara Coffey.

In connection with the residency, VPL and Next Stage Arts Project will present the award-winning film Rams by director Grímur Hákonarson. Rams takes place in a remote Icelandic farming valley where two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what’s dearest to them – their sheep. Rams will screen at the Next Stage, 15 Kimball Hill in Putney, VT on September 12 at 7:00pm. Come early to join the artists and the Major’s for a reception that will feature Vermont Shepherd cheese. Suggested donation of $5-$10 and reservations are not required.

On Friday, September 16 at 5:00pm and on Saturday, September 17 at 5:00pm, VPL will present PREVIEW performances of Doggie Hamlet at Vermont Shepherd Farm in Westminster West, VT. Tickets are $10-$15 and reserving tickets in advance is strongly recommended as the performances are expected to sell out. Tickets can be purchased at

VPL encourages audiences to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the outdoors. In addition, due to the sensitive nature of the performance, no dogs are allowed at the performance site. Any patron who brings a dog will not be permitted on site.

This Vermont Performance Lab residency and PREVIEW performances are made possible with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, the National Endowment for the Arts, and VPL’s Creation Fund donors. This event is part of Vermont Arts 2016 – a project of the Vermont Arts Council.

Vermont Performance Lab is committed to making its programs accessible to all by producing events in ADA accessible venues that have handicapped accessible parking, bathrooms and seating. VPL also provides large print programs available on request. Audience members who have any special requirements should feel free to contact us in advance of the performances at 802-257-3360 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) is a laboratory for creative research and community engagement. Since 2006, VPL has brought artists of regional, national and international stature to the grange halls, studios and classrooms of rural Vermont through its innovative artist residency program. Last year VPL’s community and education programs served more than 1,700 students, young professionals, families and seniors in Windham County through workshops, informal performances and art-making experiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities. Since 2006, VPL has supported a diverse range of over 400 artists working in dance, theater, and music. Through research, development and production residencies at VPL, artists have created award-winning performance work that tours nationally and internationally. Collaboration and partnership with local organizations are key to the success of VPL’s residencies as they often expand audience reach and help create non-conventional pathways for engagement and connection between audience and artist. or

From the concert hall to the dairy farm, the opera house to a mountainside, in the museum or on a frozen pond, Ann Carlson’s award winning work defies description and category while expanding the context of choreography and performance. Carlson borrows from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art and often dismantles conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Ann’s work takes the form of solo performance, site-specific projects, ensemble theatrical works, or performance/video. Carlson’s work has been seen in theaters, galleries, museums, concert halls as well as hotels, swimming pools, and landscapes through out the U.S., Europe and Mexico.

From 2010-13, Carlson was a guest artist at Stanford University, and during 2014-15, Carlson was a guest artist at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Stanford was both the site and inspiration of Carlson’s newest work, The Symphonic Body. This new work builds on Carlson’s twenty-five year practice of developing works that are made with and performed by people gathered together by a common profession, activity or shared passion. The first work of this series, “Sloss, Kerr, Rosenberg & Moore” is a work made with and performed by four New York attorneys. This performance series has continued with works involving fly fishermen, nuns, corporate executives, a farmer and her dairy cow, custodians, security officers, poker players, gardeners and physicians, among others. The Symphonic Body is a performance/orchestral work made entirely of gestures. Carlson shadowed 78 people from across campus, students, professors, staff, ground service workers, deans, and provosts and built gestural portraits for each individual based on the motions of their work day.

Ms. Carlson is the recipient of over thirty commissions and numerous awards for her artistic work, including two American Masters Award, multiple years of support from Rockefeller Foundation MAP program, a USA Artist Award, a Rockefeller Seed Grant, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship at Harvard University, a Guggenheim Fellowship; a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship; A Fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, three awards from the National Choreographic Initiative; a Doris Duke Award for New Work; the first Cal/Arts Alpert Award in Choreography, a prestigious three-year choreographic fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as eight years of consecutive support from the NEA. Most recently, Carlson was invited by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to be in residence next year on Captiva Island, Florida.

Carlson has made a number of performance works with animals. Horses, dogs, cats, cows, fish, goats have made their way into works by Carlson. Her Animals series toured through out the U.S. from 1988 until 1996. Last summer, Carlson made a work on horseback opposite a Debra Butterfield sculpture in Jackson Hole, WY.

Carlson has had a long-term collaboration with video maker, Mary Ellen Strom resulting in several single channel performance videos that are held in several private and museum collections. In addition Carlson/Strom made a large-scale site-specific work, Geyserland, in which the audience went on a train and traveled 25 miles over the Bozeman Pass in Montana.

Ann was a guest artist at Stanford University in the department theater and performance studies beginning in March 2010. In May 2010, with the support of the dance division, she made “Still Life with Decoy” with a band of dancers in search of a stage and 150 students poised in stillness through out campus. In 2011, Ms. Carlson became the first visiting artist at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, making “Picture Jasper Ridge” a silent performance hike that invited the public to see re-staged archival photographs performed in the tradition of tableau vivante. This continued her performance photo series that has been seen on the streets of New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and in the mountains of Massachusetts and Montana.


Vermont Shepherd is a 250-acre farm in Westminster West, Vermont with 300-700 sheep (depending on the time of year), along with shepherds of all ages (and two different species if you count theirour 8 dogs). At the northern edge of the farm is a Cave which is home to our 2 types of cheese, where the cheeses live out the seasons of their lives. Vermont Shepherd cheeses are the oldest and most well known of the country’s sheep and mixed milk cheeses. David and Yesenia and their family pasture and milk the sheep, make and age the cheese on their 250-acre farm in Westminster West, Vermont. Vermont Shepherd cheeses are descended from a variety of Pyrenees mountain cheeses, which is fitting because a large half of the family is Spanish. The cheese has won awards for Best Farmhouse Cheese in the country and Best of Show in the American Cheese Society’s annual competition since 1993. Today their family makes cheese in small, 10 to 30 wheel batches. Vermont Shepherd has been featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Esquire, and more.

Next Stage Arts Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping art happen
through the programming, development and operation of the Next Stage theater, a newly renovated performing arts facility in Putney, Vermont. We celebrate the diversity of artistic expression by fostering a collaborative environment for audiences, performers, and community based arts and educational organizations, and we are committed to enhancing the village of Putney as a cultural center. Next Stage, located inside 15 Kimball Hill, a beautiful, historic 1841 building right in Putney’s village center, opened officially in March 2011. Our year-round programming is rich and diverse and includes classical music concerts presented in partnership with the Yellow Barn Music Festival, and folk/rock concerts presented in cooperation with Twilight Music. We develop and present programming in-house including Next Stage Speaks, our spoken word series, and independent films featured in our newly renovated Next Stage Cinema.


FILM: Rams a film by Grímur Hákonarson
Presented by Vermont Performance Lab and Next Stage Arts Project
In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what’s dearest to them – their sheep. Come early for a reception that features Vermont Shepherd cheese!
WHEN: 7:00pm on Monday, September 12
WHERE: Next Stage Arts Project, 15 Kimball Hill Road, Putney, VT 05346
TICKETS: $5-$10 Suggested Donation | No Reservations Required!

PREVIEW: Doggie Hamlet by Ann Carlson
Presented by Vermont Performance Lab in association with Vermont Shepherd Farm
Choreographer Ann Carlson and her collaborators of dancers, border collies, sheep, and local musicians weave instinct, mystery, and movement into the performance spectacle Doggie Hamlet. Please wear comfortable shoes and dress for the outdoors! In addition, due to the sensitive nature of this performance, no dogs are allowed (not even to stay in cars). Please leave your dog(s) at home and thank you in advance!
WHEN: 5:00pm on Friday, September 16 + Saturday, September 17
WHERE: Vermont Shepherd Farm, 281 Patch Farm Road, Westminster West, VT 05346
TICKETS: $15 | $10 Students |