Genevieve Redmond, 17, will choreograph her own work for the Brattleboro School of Dance’s annual spring show.
Zach Stephens/Courtesy of Brattleboro School of Dance
Genevieve Redmond, 17, will choreograph her own work for the Brattleboro School of Dance’s annual spring show.

Honoring the darkness, unearthing the joy

Brattleboro School of Dance students prepare for annual spring show: ‘Shadows & Glimmers’

BRATTLEBORO-The Brattleboro School of Dance's annual spring show, "Shadows & Glimmers: An Evening of Dance," will feature more than 50 dancers, ages 6 to 72, who live, work, and attend school in the community.

"Evoking themes of shadows, where light and darkness meet, and glimmers, where inescapable joy bursts forth in our everyday lives, this show reflects and transforms our daily experiences, both individually and collectively, into works of art," says Bridget Struthers, in a recent phone call with The Commons about the 48th annual show, which takes place on May 17, 18, and 19.

This spring show includes classical ballet works, including The Dying Swan and excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, as well as modern and contemporary choreography, hip-hop, flamenco, Dunham Technique, and everything in between.

According to Struthers, co-artistic director of the show and director/owner of BSD since 2018, after covering costs, paying choreographers, and the venue, the remaining proceeds of this show will support the BSD scholarship fund.

"Our philosophy is simply 'all comers welcome!' In this world of conflict, it is a gift to be able to walk through those glass doors into the spaces that house classes that promote an inclusive atmosphere," Struthers adds.

"At BSD, we are proud of our more than four decades of dance education and performance offerings to the community," she says.

Students of all ages attend BSD for pre-professional training, to build a healthy lifestyle, or to experience the bonds that come from a sense of camaraderie centered around the love of dance.

Struthers acknowledges that it might feel indulgent to create art when there is so much pain and suffering in the world.

"This show's theme, 'Shadows & Glimmers,' seeks to acknowledge and honor the darkness in today's world and to also unearth the undeniable beauty and joy that is present in every moment," she says.

"Through the process of choreography and dance, we aim to process and transform personal, community, and global grief and hardship into something complex and beautiful," Struthers adds.

She explains that dance is a unique art form, in that the human body is the medium.

"When we are an audience to dance, we feel a kinesthetic connection to what is happening on stage, making the whole experience felt on a deep and subconscious level," Struthers says.

"We see bodies moving on stage in patterns, rhythms, and expressions, and we cannot help but feel connected and empathetic to everyone else in the room," she adds. "That connection can be carried with us outside into the world."

She hopes that "it makes us all a little bit more graceful and understanding to our fellow human beings, whether they are our neighbors or someone we read about in the news."

Many of the staff members have worked at BSD for decades. Some former students who have explored professional dance careers have returned, bringing their broadened experience home.

"BSD is a really special dance school because we have a strong community that is 100% committed to the art form," says Struthers.

"We are not trying to 'wow' the audience with tricks and pizazz," she says. "We are truly striving to engage with our craft."

"Each choreographer spends countless hours choosing music, developing their theme, thoughtfully running rehearsals so that the dancers can understand and fully realize the vision," Struthers points out.

It takes a village

According to Struthers, this year's lineup of choreographers is particularly "eclectic and exciting."

Choreographers include Patricia Wilson, an accomplished teacher of Dunham Technique, who will use this style in performing a unique piece that will reflect the process of grieving.

In contrast, Struthers will perform a "quirky and otherworldly piece inspired by the mysteries of dreaming."

Michelle Erard, new to Vermont, brings her extensive training in flamenco dance to the stage for a novel experience.

Sequoyah Stevens-Mills, a longtime BSD student who is now on staff, will stage six Sleeping Beauty Variations, where each solo pointe dancer will wear a tutu designed by BSD founder Kathleen Keller, now the school's costumer.

Holly Johnson, now in her 40th year on staff at BSD, will present a two-part piece of contrasting moods, for a multi-age group of 13 dancers. Johnson serves alongside Struthers as co-artistic director of this show and also directs many rehearsals.

Nan Mann, the instructor of the young students and the director for Brattleboro Centre for Children, will bring her skills of working with multiple ages of children in groups to her piece this year, where 22 dancers of all ages and levels will perform on stage simultaneously.

Rachel Hebert and Sonya Marx each have a new piece to add to their growing repertoire. Both are alumna of the Windham Regional Career Center Performing Arts Dance Program (formerly delivered through BSD).

Stuart Tsubota, a first-time choreographer for BSD last spring, will return with another modern work for a trio of young dancers.

Alison Mott, not represented since 2021, will present a new work, costumed in earthy tones, which enhance her grounded and intricately patterned work.

Redmond will dance 'Dying Swan,' present original piece

Genevieve Redmond, 17, of Guilford, is the first senior company member to present a work of choreography for a spring show and will dance a difficult solo.

"She is the perfect choice for this auspicious role, having also been chosen by BSD production staff to dance the solo 'The Dying Swan,' a pointe piece requiring such topnotch technique and emotional stamina that it has not been danced at BSD since 1996," notes Struthers.

It is being staged, taught, and guided by Keller's expert hands.

"Dying Swan is such a beautiful and classic piece of choreography, and I'm so excited to be able to perform it solo - in my last show with BSD," Redmond says.

"It's also deceptively difficult, and I've had to put a lot of work into fine-tuning the emotions and specific movements of the piece," she adds.

"I've learned so much from working with Kathi Keller," Redmond continues. "I feel that I've grown a lot as a dancer during the rehearsal process."

Redmond, who will graduate from Brattleboro Union High School this spring, will attend Barnard College next year as a double major in biology and dance.

She will also present her piece, Mellifluity, the first piece she's choreographed, for eight dancers.

"I've always wanted to choreograph my own work for the spring show, and it's been really inspiring to work with the dancers and see the piece come to life," she says.

The word "mellifluity," she says, is "a made-up word based on the word 'mellifluous' - meaning 'having a pleasant sound,'" notes Redmond.

"Four of the dancers are my fellow BSD Senior Company members, so it's been really special to have them in my piece for my senior-year show," she adds.

Enhancing the feel of each piece

Throughout the process of bringing a show like this one from imagination to the stage, "dancers work tirelessly, learning choreography, honing the details of expression, timing, and artistry," Struthers says. "Costumes are chosen and created to align and enhance the feel of each piece."

And "when we get into the theater a week before opening night, we meticulously work with lighting designer Francesca Bourgault to fulfill the vision even more - creating much needed texture, shadows, illumination, and mood with the lights," she adds.

"Finally, the most important ingredient is the audience," Struthers says.

"When performers and audience come together, an event occurs that is sacred and can never be repeated," she explains. "This experience of live performance is truly one of the greatest experiences in the world."

* * *

Brattleboro School of Dance presents its 48th annual spring show, "Shadows & Glimmers: An Evening of Dance," on Friday, May 17 , at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. at the New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St., Brattleboro.

For more information and to purchase tickets ($18; for students and seniors, $15), visit Brattleboro School of Dance at

This Arts item by Victoria Chertok was written for The Commons.

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