Built on Stilts

Built on Stilts is the Vineyard’s homegrown dance festival and it takes root this summer from August 8 through the 11 and again from August 17 through the 20 at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. Choreographers from Martha’s Vineyard and visiting artists from off-Island join creative forces to bring the performances to life. The program is always free and changes each night. Each night begins with a drum circle starting at 7:30 p.m. The Dance program follows at 8 p.m.

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16 Years On, Built on Stilts Is Built to Last
Katie Ruppel

Outside Union Chapel last Saturday evening people lingered on the stairs; little girls doing each other’s makeup and mothers making small talk, all the while keeping an eye on the green doors behind them. At 7:30 p.m. sharp, the doors of the chapel opened and the people streamed inside, running to the closest seat and marking their territory in preparation for this summer’s edition of Built on Stilts.

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Built on Stilts Calls Them All

It all begins with the drum circle. At first it’s just a few folks sitting behind their drums, striking the beat ever so softly. But the scene is being set at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs and quickly it begins to build as the audience streams in, no need for money or tickets, not on this night.

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A Friendship Built on Stilts, and Forged in Cigarettes, Skinny-Dips and Secrets
Mike Seccombe

Red wine and cigarettes, dirty jokes and skinny dipping, late night sorties onto the streets of Oak Bluffs in outrageous costume — the manifestations of Abby Bender and Brent Alberghini’s 14-year relationship tend toward the risky and risque. But 12 years ago their offbeat ideas of friendship and community also nurtured something of an Island institution, the annual Built on Stilts community dance festival. The festival begins its week-long run this coming Friday.

Interviews by Mike Seccombe

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Stiltshop Gets Young Islanders Dancing in Annual Free Festival
Megan Dooley

Chaos rules at Stiltshop, where day camp-style rehearsals prepare youngsters to participate next to older and more experienced dancers in Built on Stilts, the Island’s annual homegrown community dance festival. Call it Built on Stilts with a shorter attention span.

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Built on Stilts Dance Festival Opens Thursday

Built on Stilts, the Vineyard’s homegrown dance festival, opens on Thursday, August 12, at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs and continues through Sunday and again the following weekend, August 21 to 23.

Each night’s program begins with drumming at 7:30 p.m. (all acoustic musicians are invited to join in) and dance performances at 8. The program is different each night.

As ever, the shows are free to the public, and audiences many come and go as they please. Donations at the door are strongly encouraged. No reservations necessary.

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Free-for-All Defines Both Dance Festival and Audience Ticket Prices
Jonah Lipsky

Built on Stilts, the annual dance festival held at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, opened last night to begin its eight day run with a bit of drumming, belly dancing and a group of five-year-olds taking the stage fresh from their yearlong “Stiltshop” choreography class. What’s on the schedule for tonight is anyone’s guess, though, as the show never repeats itself.

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