I spent the summer of 2018 in northern Vermont rehearsing and performing classical ballet as a soloist in Ballet Vermont’s Farm to Ballet Project. I trained ballet preprofessionally throughout my youth, and I still have a deep and abiding love for moving my body through those familiar, elegant, exuberant pathways; I still have a passion for the joy and generosity of ballet performance.
Farm to Ballet is a full-length story ballet drawing from famous classical ballet choreographies, danced by adults (community members and paid professionals alike — there’s a place for everybody) and performed on farms around Vermont, with a portion of each show’s proceeds benefiting the host farm. The costumes are fantastical and delightful, the music is played live, and it’s clear that the dancers all love what they are doing so much.
I danced the role of the goat, one of the animals on the farm (complete with a headband of ears/horns and a furry tail), in an adaption of a classical ballet variation known for its nonstop leaps. I love to jump. It was glorious. And I danced the role of the ladybug, a femme fatale in a giant red tutu, in which I gazed longingly at an aphid (a giant construction of origami and pipe cleaners) before gobbling it up. Oh, and I was a cucumber in the “salad” dance that celebrates all the vegetables grown on the farm. (That costume was a bit hard to decipher; audience guesses included mushroom, radish, and turnip.)
I rehearsed in a friend’s backyard among her chickens. I made friends I’m still close with two years later. I learned about performing ballet on grass, where every landing is a surprise, with a group of dancers who say manure instead of merde before a show. And I felt more embodied, passionate, and radiant than I imagined I was still capable of, traveling through space with expansiveness and freedom, and finding a new faith I didn’t know was possible in my self and my body.