Collaboration lies at the heart of our work. It figured prominently through the years with Rhythm in Shoes and continues to fuel our work today. Bands, individual artists, dance & theater companies, presenters & community groups; all have provided inspiration and partnership in the creation of a vast and varied repertoire.
Carry it on…
Most recently we collaborated with a large cast of talented professional and community artists to create a 40th Anniversary dance and music event for the Wheatland Music Organization, in Michigan.
A Saturday night dance performance on the mainstage at the Wheatland Music Festival has been a highlight of many summers for us over the years. It generates excitement like nothing else can. The WMO’s continuing commitment to traditional dance over the years is one of the things that makes it unique. Another is the Central Michigan community that has both supported and benefited from years of high-quality, traditional dance.
It was fitting that the centerpiece of this summer’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, September 6, 7 & 8, was a Saturday night, main stage dance performance including some of the best professional dancers in the country, as well as performers from the greater Wheatland community. Having been commissioned to create this performance we, and a team of dedicated artists, brought forth what came to be known as the Carry it on… Project.
The project is being directed by renowned artist and dancer Sharon Leahy with original music composed by Rick Good from the Rhythm In Shoes company of Spring Valley, Ohio. Both are well known and prolific creators as dancers, musicians, actors, writers, educators and advocates of America’s musical roots… Wheatland Music has a long, fruitful and trusting relationship with the duo that dates back to 1977. Over the four decades, Wheatland has engaged Sharon on more than 15 occasions and Rick 22 times.
– from the Folk Alliance International Newsletter – Summer, 2013
Forty years of people gathering to experience living traditional arts is what we celebrated with Carry it on…, but most folks don’t get the opportunity to experience the pristine beauty of the Festival site sans campers. So, after forty years of coming together at the Wernette Farm, outside of Remus, it was also fitting that we honored the magic of the gathering place with which we’ve been blessed. Although thousands of people annually populate these woods and fields, few of us have seen the land in its natural state. Those of us who have know there is a power there that brings us all together just as surely as the music and dance does.
To this worthy end, Carry it on… also included a Dance for Camera performance-art film created, performed and shot on site at the Wernette Farm. The premiere showing of the Carry it on… film opened up the Saturday night dance set, blending seamlessly into the live performance.
After the few first months of planning and brainstorming, the three major phases of the Carry it on… Project started running full speed ahead. These were the Professional Ensemble, the Community Dancers and the Dance for Camera.
Carry it on… included a handpicked team of professional artists who have performed at Wheatland through the years in groups like the Green Grass Cloggers, the Fiddle Puppets, Footnotes, Footworks and Rhythm in Shoes—dancers including Ira Bernstein, Christine Galante, Nic Gareiss, Matt Gordon, Becky Hill, Abby Ladin, Matt Olwell, Zane Terry and Emma Young. The bandstand was equally endowed with talented artists including Cleek Schrey, Sam Bartlett, Ben Cooper and Wheatland’s own Tom T. Ball.
All of these artists gathered at WMO central this spring for two weeks of making magic. We lived well and worked hard, morning and night, creating new work for the stage under the direction of Becky Hill, and making the film, under the direction of Sharon Leahy.
The Community phase of Carry it on… shifted into high gear last winter for three weeks of rehearsals throughout Lower Michigan. Joined by our talented colleague, the effervescent Nic Gareiss, we’ve been working with with dancers from fourteen to sixty-two in Remus, Alma, Mt. Pleasant, East Jordan, Ellsworth, Ann Arbor and Williamston, including the irrepressible Costabella Cloggers, many of whom are founding members of the Organization. The excitement of all the dancers, young and old, is both palpable and energizing.
Carry it on… was a multi-faceted and ambitious undertaking, a year and a half in the making. It was the result of hard work and dedication from many talented artists. We are proud to have been a part of it.
More of our past projects and collaborations include…