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Truly "Built on Stilts"

The annual dance festival celebrates its 15th year with around 50 different groups and a live drum circle.

Fifteen years ago two recent college graduates with a passion for dance found themselves on the Island in search for work. Together, they put together what they termed a “magical one night performance.”

Today, Abby Bender and Anna Luckey’s efforts have grown into , a dance festival incorporating more than 50 different groups from both on- and off-Island. This year’s festival begins on Thursday, August 11 at the in Oak Bluffs at 8 p.m. Performances run through Sunday, August 14 and again from Saturday, August 20 through Tuesday, August 23.

The festival brings together “all different kinds of dance, predominantly modern,” Bender said. “But there’s ballet, salsa, hip-hop, jazz, some singing and live music and a drum circle.”

From the handmade posters to the welcoming venue, the festival lives up to its name as genuine grassroots event.

“The doors are open, so people can go in and out as they please,” Bender said. “Most of the time, I think people hear the drums and kind of wander in, but then there are some die-hard locals that come in.” 

“There are a ton of kids involved,” Bender said. “Some kids started out doing the kids program and are now 16 to 18 years old and they’re making their own choreography, so that’s pretty exciting.”

This year, more than half of the participants have come from off-Island. To celebrate the growth of the event, there will be a film highlighting the past 15 years. Over the course of eight nights, the free event sees an average of 400 people every evening.

“The energy is just so positive and supportive, it’s hard to put down in one sentence,” Bender said. “It’s a little bit miraculous."

Visit http://www.builtonstilts.org for more information.

kiera howell August 12, 2011 at 01:02 AM
This has turned into one of the most exciting, vibrant and unique events on the island. Even if you think you do not like watching dance, go. It is the best experience.

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