When Vermont dancer Chatch Pregger set out to mash up two of his passions, the art form of ballet and his reverence for Vermont agriculture, the combination is an outdoor performance telling the story of a farm from spring to fall.
Pregger joined VPR to talk about the performance series called Farm to Ballet.
On pairing the two diverse ventures
“Myself and a group of dedicated dancers, who have been [dancing] with me for a long time, were looking to add performing ballet to their classwork. We started talking about what that project might look like, ways that we could export the ballet to the community in ways that might make the community more interested in it than just in ballet. I love the old, classical ballets, I’m excited about them, but they don’t apply to our lives very much, so we were looking for a way to get people more interested in seeing what we had to offer.”
“Locally grown food, organic food and family farming has always been really important to me. I think it says a lot about Vermont that it’s so important here.”
On the performance itself
“The show tells the story of a farm from spring to fall. So it takes you through some events that the farmer might experience, obviously in a theatrical way. What we’ve done is taken classical repertoire … and with new costumes and a little bit of new choreography, we worked it to tell a new story.”
“I’m not the first person to do a mash up, but I might be the first person to do a ballet mash up. Turning the entrance of the swans from Swan Like into the geese returning required only different costumes and it’s exactly the same choreography, but now it’s a completely different idea.”
Pregger says all the shows are outdoors, weather permitting.
Why did the dancers want to be a part of the project?
“To hear them talk about it, it sounds like the community aspect was the big thing for everybody. I think also building something, watching something grow, come together and see what it becomes. [It’s also] a large trust element; many of them have never performed before or not for many years.”
On what Pregger hopes people will get out of the performance
“As far as ballet goes, I want them to be able to enjoy their evening in a way that they usually enjoy music. To come out to a burger night, get to eat some local food, have some drinks, sit on the lawn and see a show. It’s not a place that you’d normally get to see ballet.
“… My hope was actually to help farmers more, to bring some attention to the work that they do. Many of our shows are also fundraisers for farming organizations. We were really looking for ways to give to farmers and to make it beneficial to them, most of our shows are combined with non-profits.”