Thursday October 05, 2017
The creator of Vermont’s innovative Farm to Ballet Project, Chatch Pregger, launches his new ballet company, Ballet Vermont, with fall performances of Bees & Friends to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” The production, which debuted October 1 in Greensboro, will take place October 14 at the Bread and Butter Farm as part of a fall festival.
Pregger, a South Burlington resident, said he was ready to establish Vermont’s first and only classical ballet company having been inspired by the enthusiastic support of audiences, sponsors, and volunteers that made his previous project, Farm to Ballet, a success. This summer alone, it reached over 3,000 audience members in six counties, raising nearly $30,000, of which 75 percent went directly to farms and agricultural non-profits.
Pregger says, “Being able to use my art form to support the farming community and provide resources to make systemic changes that promote sustainability and regeneration is immensely gratifying. I am grateful to everyone that helped make us successful.”
Although Pregger will keep producing Farm to Ballet, he sees the creation of Ballet Vermont as a way to continue to expand ballet offerings throughout the state. “Through the process of producing Farm to Ballet, I found incredible joy in creating new works, bringing my creativity to life through the dancers. I also wanted to continue the momentum that Farm to Ballet has started, both in the ballet dancers and the audience. I am lucky to have a talented and dedicated ensemble of dancers and an enthusiastic audience here in Vermont.”
Ballet Vermont includes a number of dancers that appeared in Farm to Ballet, as well as some newcomers. The ensemble has six soloists and eleven members of the corps. The mission of the company is to present high quality ballet which celebrates Vermont. Pregger said he hopes to create a path for professional ballet dancers, musicians, and composers in the state to collaborate and produce original dance pieces.
Their performance October 14 of Bees & Friends, Ballet Vermont’s inaugural piece, is a delightful menagerie of bees, bugs and birds dancing to Vivaldi’s iconic work. The 45-minute ballet explores topics of pollination, metamorphoses, integrated pest management and bio-luminescence.
Like many artists in the Green Mountain State, Pregger works his craft on and off the stage, performing as well as producing. A soloist in Bees & Friends, he is also artistic director of the company. “Now that I’m working on the production side of things, as well as dancing, it’s my goal to keep the audiences interest throughout the whole production.”
Pregger credits the success of Farm to Ballet equally between the strength of the production and the creativity of the structure, having learned that ballet can be successful off point and in the grass. He says, “By creating boundaries in choreography and limitations in staging, our performance structure provides the limitations in which creativity can happen. For example, the dancers moving large flower props onto stage and using a fishing reel to make an oversized aphid climb up the flower. To us the business is totally integrated in the creative concept.”
Although proving his prowess on the business side, Pregger is a dancer at heart. “I love ballet first and foremost.” Having grown up in Fair Haven, Pregger moved to Connecticut at 15 years of age to attend the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in order to follow his dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. He joined Boston Ballet II in 1999 and was promoted to Boston Ballet the following year. Since then, he has been a member of the Washington Ballet and the Houston Ballet, as well as a guest dancer with the Arizona Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theatre.
Pregger is also a teacher, both with Ballet Vermont and at Spotlight Vermont, which donates studio space to the company. “Ballet has an intense learning curve that is often prohibitive to new adults starting ballet. I try my best to streamline that but ballet is incredibly hard and there’s no getting around it.” He notes, “I find the dancers here to be well rounded people, as well as incredibly committed. It may not be a place where a traditional style company, one that works six days a week, would be appropriate, but producing one show while performing the companies established repertoire is a format that can work great for the moonlighting Vermont dancer.”
The multitalented Pregger choreographed Ballet Vermont’s inaugural production, Bees & Things. He says, “It is an incredible feeling to hold an audience in rapture throughout a dance and even more a whole show.”
Ballet Vermont Bees & Friends, October 14, Bread and Butter Farm, 200 Leduc Farm Road, Shelburne. For tickets and more information: www.balletvermont.org.
SOURCE: Carole Vasta Folley, The Other Paper