In September 2021, with the COVID pandemic still lurking, five Vermont artists seeking community and healing began getting together to play creatively. Those gatherings evolved into weekly lunch meetings in which they opened up about, among other things, their respective creative processes. They dubbed themselves LUNCH, and before they knew it, their conversations evolved into a performance, LUNCH Presents: Sketches. It will premiere at Phantom Theater for a two-night run, July 8 and 9.
Those five interdisciplinary artists – Mary Jo Cahilly-Bretzin, Millie Heckler, Anna Martone, Hanna Satterlee, and Isadora Snapp – each envisioned and choreographed one of the five sketches to be performed.
“Each choreographer will highlight their own unique voice, and it will be a treat to see how the variety of pieces can support each other,” said Snapp.
The pieces evolved in response to the group’s lunch-centered conversations, which delved into topics surrounding vulnerability, sensuality, commitment to relationships, and the artist's journey.
“Each piece seems to stem from the deeply personal embodied experience and yearnings of the member who created it, both within and independent of the group dynamics,” said Cahilly-Bretzin. “To me, the ‘sketches’ communicate something of each woman's contemporary moment, and the strong desire, as well as capacity, for tenderness, connection, ferocity, vulnerability, and the loving presence with which she attends to this experiencing.”
“As such, I feel each work to be a captivating portrait of each artist and expect the audience to enjoy weaving their own threads of connection throughout the evening,” she added.
Though the sketches are rooted in dance, they are in fact multi-media performances, some of which will integrate live music and video.
Isadora Snapp is a Vermont native and has been teaching, performing, and creating work in Central Vermont since 2010. Based out of Barre, she regularly teaches classes in Montpelier at Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio and has taught at several other Vermont studios over the years, including Dance Works Academy, Ballet Wolcott, and Stowe Dance Academy. Most recently, she has begun working with Ballet Vermont in Waterbury. Her own dance work is rooted in modern dance with influences of ballet and jazz.
Hanna Satterlee holds a double BA in dance/psychology with a concentration in dance therapy from Goucher College, and a masters in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. Since 2006 she has been a dancer in many U.S. companies and collaborative performance groups. From 2010 to 2015 Hanna served as the director of professional programming and director of teen jazz at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio in Montpelier and has been a guest lecturer at Johnson State College and Middlebury College, and adjunct faculty at Vermont Law School, the University of Vermont and currently at Northern Vermont University.
Anna Martone has moved through a degree at UVM, danced with multiple companies, continues to explore the natural world and is just starting to dive into the world of film.
Millie Heckler is an interdisciplinary artist who merges singing, dance and original music to inspire pleasure, authenticity, and change. Her passion lies in unlocking voices of the body.
Mary Jo Cahilly-Bretzin said she grew up in the Mad River Valley, where she could often be found bossing her friends and family around from behind an over-the-shoulder camcorder, acting from an alter-ego, always dancing, and often hiding somewhere in the recesses of her own mind. In her 29 years, not much has changed apart from experience, some training, a degree, and the conscious intention to hide less.
With their varied backgrounds and stylistic sensibilities, each artist brings a different style and vocabulary to their work, in the context of both their own choreography and their response to each other’s choreography, Snapp said.
“I'm excited to see these amazing performers bring life to my choreography,” said Snapp. “I'm also excited that I'm able to push myself to perform styles of movement that I don't usually get to perform. Millie's work specifically is a little beyond my comfort zone, and it’s been so rewarding to feel myself get more and more comfortable with the material.”
The shows at Phantom Theater will not only be the world premiere of these sketches, but likely their final performance as well.
“We have no future performances in mind at this time, and because we all have different upcoming plans, some traveling to other places, this feels like a very special moment for the group to share together,” said Cahilly-Bretzin.
The July 7-9 performances of LUNCH Presents: Sketches begin at 8 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.phantomtheater.org.