The Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah is not a traditional dance space. Yet this past Friday, the Brooklyn-based dance troupe Urban Bush Women transformed the landscape surrounding the kitchen and homestead into a stage for a work-in-progress piece titled Haint Blu, which will show for two weeks next summer in collaboration with The Yard.

The performance piece transforms the folk myths and intergenerational stories brought together by Urban Bush Women’s company members, all Black women, into an hour-long blend of dance, music, motion and spirituality. The show also incorporates stories and folklore the group discovers wherever it performs — Friday’s show made frequent reference to Wampanoag and Black stories tied to Martha’s Vineyard by oral tradition.

Over 75 guests gathered on the grass and gravel around Orange Peel for the show, which was followed by drinks and a flatbread dinner, stone-fired in the bakery’s outdoor oven.

Music was a big part of the performance. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The performance began with no chairs and no stage. Instead, the troupe, at rest on a patio, stirred into quiet motion as co-composer Grace Galu took up a spiritual tune on the guitar. Throughout the evening, the dancers moved through the audience and through the landscape, weaving between the guests like silent, rhythm-bound missionaries, or beckoning guests into a string of new spaces. The stage included armchairs by the fire, backyard pavilions and simple grass mottled by the long evening shade of oak trees.

A feeling of constant motion sits at the heart of Haint Blu, Urban Bush Women’s producing director, Jonathan Secor, told the Gazette. The performance incorporates folk songs and spoken word poetry, but the focus is on the motion of the dancers, which translates the oral tradition into a new, physical language, Mr. Secor explained.

“It’s not an oral history, but we’re telling an oral story,” he said.

Show often wove through the audience at Orange Peel Bakery. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The show’s title, Haint Blu, refers to a paint color with spiritual significance for many Black communities in the American South. The light indigo shade, traditionally used to paint porch ceilings, is said to dispel dark spirits, according to company member Mikaila Ware. This nod to tradition and spirituality served as the starting point for the group’s journey into the stories and traditions of their families and the communities in which they will perform, Ms. Ware said.

Live music was featured as well, from simple rhythms on Pangi seed shakers to folk songs (and even minstrel songs) re-imagined in a new, spiritual mode. Ms. Galu, co-composer for the production, told the Gazette that she wanted the re-imagined music to feel “almost like a dream — like déjà vu.”

Mr. Secor called Friday evening’s performance one of the Haint Blu’s first “work-in-progress sharings.”

Sharings, not showings, he specified.

“We really want to hear from people, to be in dialogue with the community itself,” Mr. Secor said.

After the show it is time for flatbread, care of Juli Vanderhoop. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Sharing the show with the Island community before the official debut next summer will help to gather new stories and fine-tune the performance to the Island landscape and community, he added.

After the performance, company members and crew joined the audience for dinner, with food and drink and conversation carrying on well past sunset.

Haint Blu will return to the Vineyard next August, when it will play at the Temple Baptist Park in Oak Bluffs, the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and again at the Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah, all sites tied to the Island’s Black and Wampanoag communities. The show will be staged as a two-night event, with one part shown down-Island and the next up-Island on the following night.

For more information about the complete summer season at the Yard, visit