Dance festival to debut

Preparations begin for ‘monumental event’ in July

BRATTLEBORO — Brenda Lynn Siegel, executive and artistic director of Southern Vermont Dance Festival, is inviting businesses and community members to join in what she calls “a monumental event” taking place in Brattleboro for the first time.

The Southern Vermont Dance Festival (SVDF) is a celebration of dance open to professionals, novices, families and anyone who wants to move to the music and contribute to a sense of place.

Slated for July 18-21 at venues convenient to downtown, the event aims both to showcase the works of choreographers and faculty from New England and New York, and to encourage the revival of Brattleboro's downtown.

Siegel says the festival is perfect for the dance professional, dance student, and dance enthusiast. There will be workshops, lectures, and performances for all levels of technique and interest. There will also be a significant amount of yoga, Pilates, and other movement styles offered throughout the festival.

Four-day “full immersion” tickets are $225 before June 18, or $325 thereafter. Student pricing is available. Performance-only tickets to single events go on sale June 15.

Early-bird pricing runs until June 18.

All four- and three-day tickets let ticket holders attend up to three workshops per day, up to two lectures per day, and up to two formal concerts throughout their stay. In addition, ticket holders will have access to all informal concerts, site-specific work, and music offered throughout the festival.

One-day ticket holders will have access to three workshops, two lectures, and one formal concert in addition to all informal concerts, site-specific work and music offered throughout their stay.

Bringing Brattleboro back

Siegel says the festival stems from an impulse to help the town following the April 17, 2011 five-alarm fire that ravaged the historic Brooks House complex on Main Street, and that late August's deluge brought by Tropical Storm Irene, as well as other tragedies this and neighboring communities have weathered.

“I, myself, lost everything in Irene. I have watched our downtown devastated by flood and fire, and I know firsthand that this moment, two years post-flood, is the hardest one. All of the reserves have run out, but there are new disasters [to prepare for]. Relief efforts have shifted to other areas, yet as a town and as individuals [we] are not fully recovered,” Siegel says.

Toward that end, Southern Vermont Dance Festival aims to draw “hundreds to thousands” of visitors from out of town, attract attention from 3,000 to 5000 locally, help revitalize downtown, and promote Brattleboro as a place for young people to settle and for families to visit, Siegel says.

According to the Southern Vermont Dance Festival's website,, the weekend includes professional and student performances and workshops centered on downtown.

Moreover, local businesses are looking forward to hosting free live music and other performances; college students and dance professionals will have the opportunity to submit work to be considered for one of the festival's formal, informal, and site-specific concerts; and all events will be widely accessible.

More businesses can help; volunteers welcome

Siegel adds that she wants to encourage local businesses to consider supporting the event in any way they can, including by tax-deductible donation.

“I know that some downtown business are weary at one more fundraiser,” she says. “But SVDC is committed to help this town come back. I want people to discover that Brattleboro not only is an incredible dance community, but that it a lovely place to visit, to eat, shop, and settle. People ask me why I moved here when I could make more money if I lived elsewhere, which is true. My hope is that this festival will resoundingly give them their answer,” she says.

Siegel also says there are many volunteer opportunities for the weekend, and asks anyone interested to get in touch with her. Volunteers who cannot afford a ticket to the event can apply for free admission.

In addition to her roles with Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Siegel is co-founder of IBIT Dance Company. She received her bachelor's degree in dance and composition from Hampshire College, and has owned and operated Flow Yoga and Dance Programs for 10 years.

She has taught residencies, classes, and workshops at Greenwood School, The Putney School, Brattleboro School of Dance, the dance program at the Windham Regional Career Center, Bellows Falls Middle School, Vermont Academy, Johns Hopkins University, and several elementary and middle schools throughout New England.

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