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Dancing Down on the Farm

State of the Arts


Published November 14, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.


All six performances of Dear Pina — Vermont choreographer Hannah Dennison’s ambitious tribute to the German choreographer Pina Bausch — were sold out last June. If you couldn’t get tickets to the gritty, emotional work staged inside the soaring Breeding Barn at Shelburne Farms last spring, you’re in luck: Filmmaker Lukas Huffman and cinematographers Daniel Cojanu and Seth Neary were there with their cameras, and their resulting one-hour film will be screened at FlynnSpace in Burlington this Sunday.

Dennison began working on this performance when Bausch — one of her greatest influences — died suddenly in 2009. Dennison hired 34 trained Vermont dancers for Dear Pina, a new tack for the choreographer who has spent much of her career staging large-scale dance productions with untrained community dancers. Amy LePage and Hanna Satterlee partnered with Dennison on developing the choreography, which is inspired by Bausch’s sensual dance-theater work.

Even if you did score a spot on the risers in June, there’s much more to see in Dear Pina the film. The Shelburne Farms audience was set up about three quarters of the way down the 418-foot-long barn, so a lot of the dancing, running and theatrical vignettes took place at quite a distance. The cameras take the viewer much closer to the action. In the film, the dancers’ faces, expressions and, yes, sweat, are strikingly visible.

And the film captures that visceral sense of place that made the original performance so compelling: the changing evening light glowing through the barn’s clerestories, the dirt kicked up beneath the dancers’ feet, and the birds swooping across the cathedral-like space.

Join the cast and crew for a discussion after the screening.

"Dear Pina", directed and edited by Lukas Huffman. At FlynnSpace in Burlington, Sunday, November 18, 6:30 p.m. $10. flynntix.org, hannahdennison.org/dear-pina/