Vermont Studio Bridges Gap Between Music and Dance

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May 24 event to explore collaboration in the creative process

Guilford, VT (May 5, 2011) -- Music and dance have a long and intertwined history. Classically, a performance is centered around a single art form, while the other plays a supportive role; think dancers with a band, or pit ensembles with a ballet. However, the work growing out of a rural studio in southern Vermont urges artists to explore their collaboration as the medium. And one husband and wife team is taking the integration of music and dance to new levels with a music studio and creative residency program, called The Vermont Performance Lab (VPL).

Sara Coffey and David Snyder met as undergrads at Marlboro College. A courtship, marriage and a few children later, they decided to merge their talents, plus years of experience in the New York City arts scene, and move back to Vermont.

Nowadays, Coffey spearheads Vermont Lab Program in Guilford, where three to four artists are selected each year for a residency lasting anywhere from ten days to twenty months.

“Working in the downtown [New York] dance scene, I saw how challenging it was for artists to find affordable space and the time to make new work. Partnering with Dave and the recording studio, we’re hoping to focus a good part of our residency support toward composer-choreographer collaboration,” says Coffey. “There’s an inherent chemistry between the two, and that’s something we help artists foster in their own work. It’s our first year putting this emphasis on our Lab Program, and we’re pretty excited by the results.”

During residency, artists have the opportunity to explore new musical grounds at Guilford Sound, Snyder’s custom-designed, state-of-the-art recording studio. “Through this blend of technology and music, an under-resourced discipline like dance can gain more exposure and attention throughout the community,” says Coffey.

Coffey encourages artists working with VPL, both past and present, to lead public discussions of their collaboration and creative processes, known as Lab Talks. The next Lab Talk, to take place May 24, will explore the collaboration between composer/performer Josh Quillen, of Brooklyn-based quartet, So Percussion, and choreographer Adele Myers, currently in residency at VPL.

Lab Talk Event information:
WHEN: May 24, 2011, 7:00PM
WHERE: Guilford Sound, 561 Fitch Road, Guilford, VT
WHAT: Music expert Adam Sliwinski (of So Percussion) will join choreographer Adele Myers and composer Josh Quillen to talk with them about their collaboration and creative process for "Theater in the Head" and how their collaboration resonates and departs from the work of early experimentalists including John Cage and … Segar.  The trio will show examples - a great event for contemporary music aficionados.

As a member of So Percussion, Josh Quillen has written extensively for the group as well arranging some of So's repertoire for other ensembles.  Performances of his work can be seen in So Percussion’s “Imaginary City” -- which recently ran for four nights at BAM’s Next Wave Festival -- and "Music for Trains" -- which was written in collaboration with the other members of So Percussion while in residence at Vermont Performance Lab in 2008. His work with steel bands throughout the country has resulted in countless arrangements and original compositions for the steel orchestra.   His work can be heard on the University of Akron Steel Band’s recent CD “By Request.”  He currently writes and arranges music for the New York University Steel Drum Band.

Adele Myers is the Artistic Director of Adele Myers and Dancers, a five-member contemporary dance company that combines robust athleticism, theatricality, and social commentary. The company is dually based in CT and NYC. The mission of Adele Myers and Dancers is to create engaging dances that are accessible to a wide range of audience members. In addition to directing Adele Myers and Dancers, Myers is a Professor of Dance at Connecticut College. Her choreography has been presented at national venues and events.

Sara Coffey, Director of VPL, has worked primarily in the field of dance as a producer, project manager and curator for 15 years. Coffey holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University and a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies from Marlboro College and the School for International Training. She has served on national panels and advisory boards including  the Maggie Allassee National Choreography Center Fellowship Program, the National Endowment for the Arts program in Dance, and the New England Foundation for the Arts Regional Dance Development Initiative in New England, among others.  She regularly speaks at regional and national conferences, and on May 7th she will be honored by Cora Dance at their annual gala for her contributions to the dance field.

Dave Snyder, owner of Guilford Sound, the state-of-art recording studio where the VPL Lab Program is based, is a professionally trained musician who has toured nationally and internationally. Snyder studied in the jazz program at Manhattan School of Music from 1992 - 1994. After a stint of tours and recording two albums, Snyder owned and operated Jarvis Productions, Inc., a recording facility in New York City.

The Lab Program is at the heart of Vermont Performance Lab’s (VPL) mission to support the creation and development of new work by contemporary performing artists. Each year VPL selects three to four artists to participate in the Lab Program – a creative residency where
artists have access to various kinds of creative space in a small rural Vermont community. In this retreat-like setting, artists can concentrate on research and experimentation and test performance ideas with small audiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities.

Dave Snyder and Sara Coffey outside Guilford Sound, the recording studio in rural Vermont where Vermont Performance Lab artists collaborate with musicians on projects.

Dave Snyder and Sara Coffey at the mixing board inside Guilford Sound recording studio.

Musician Josh Quillen and choreographer Adele Myers in New York City.

Coming Soon:
WHAT: For performance adventurists only, VPL’s Progressive Performance Festival, featuring performances by choreographers Emily Johnson, Adele Myers and Candice Salyers. Structured like a progressive dinner, audiences will be guided to three sites to take in a full evening of performances that challenge accepted notions of dance.
WHEN: June 2 - 4, 2011
WHERE: starting at the Blue Moose Cafe, 29 High Street, Brattleboro, Vermont (the artists will perform in three unique and inspirational locations around downtown Brattleboro).