Dance Performance | Vulture Sister Song

Dance Performance | Vulture Sister Song

Dance Performance | Vulture Sister Song: Ellen Smith Ahern, Kate Elias, Jacob Elias, Pete Dybdahl & Josina Guess : Friday, April 7, 6:30 PM | Wine reception prior to performance: 5:30-6:15 […]

Dance Performance | Vulture Sister Song: Ellen Smith Ahern, Kate Elias, Jacob Elias, Pete Dybdahl & Josina Guess : Friday, April 7, 6:30 PM | Wine reception prior to performance: 5:30-6:15 PM

Steam + Wood = Sculpture Workshop with Jacob Elias | Thursday, April 6, 6-8 PM

Scroll down to purchase performance tickets and/or register for workshop

You may remember Ellen Smith Ahern’s March 2021 performance at AVA, Through the Windows, which responded to the artwork exhibited in the Clifford B. West Gallery by Stefania Urist, as well as the emotions tied to the distress of the pandemic, Covid-19. The audience was invited to view the performance from outside looking in– through the windows at AVA. Since visitors were not allowed to gather indoors, the piece was created to celebrate the first exhibitions to open in the galleries post the isolation period of the pandemic. The lone dancer not only represented a missing audience within the galleries, but also a poignant reminder of community and togetherness that we had in the past taken for granted.

Overview | Vulture Sister Song is a performance designed for community spaces. From across the country and throughout the limitations of the pandemic, the ensemble has been generating imagery, music, choreography, and text. Vulture Sister Song is a modern fairy tale about the relationship between humans and the natural world, specifically, the deeply symbolic vulture. Organized by Lebanon dance artist, Ellen Smith Ahern, this interdisciplinary performance explores human and more-than-human relationships through story, song, sculpture, and dance. Collaborators from around the country, Kate Elias, Pete Dybdahl, Jacob Elias, and Josina Guess, use live storytelling and folk music, a migrating herd of creature-like lanterns, curious movement and a healthy dose of humor to celebrate the possibilities of vibrant interdependence. All participants receive a guidebook to the show, featuring artwork and writing from contributors, as well as fun, thoughtful activities that carry themes explored in the performance out into the world beyond AVA.

Vulture Sister Song: The work began as a conversation on species loneliness, as described by Robin Wall Kimmerer: “We have built this isolation with our fear, with our arrogance and with our homes brightly lit against the night.” Over time, it has grown into a future vision in which human and nonhuman beings – animals and structures – move together. The spoken story sets up a compelling frame for two dancers and a migrating body of sculptural lanterns to explore scenes and ideas through movement and light. The sculptures resemble both small houses and shape-shifting, slope-shouldered creatures. Made of wood and canvas, they function as light sources that are moved throughout the space during the performance, taking on different relationships with the human dancers and shaping the visual landscape with their light. In one scene, for instance, the sculptures are clustered together like a fire, around which the dancers revolve. In another, they are scattered throughout the space as a constellation of lights, some perched atop the dancers’ bodies, shifting the constellation along with the moving choreography. Much of this imagery and structure explores the duality of a constellation of “homes brightly lit against the night”, reflecting both loneliness/estrangement and hope/connection. Movement, use of the body and voice manifest weird humor and frequent cruelty of our relationships with human and non-human lives, as well as the possibility of vibrant interdependence and care that could shape these relationships moving forward.

Please join us in the Clifford B. West Gallery for this imaginative performance filled with wonder, humor, and hope: Friday, April 7, 5:30-7:30pm.

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Tickets to Vulture Sister Song are available on a sliding scale, from $0-$40, regardless of membership. You may choose the ticket price you are able to pay, but please include the total number of people in your party. 


Thursday, April 6, 6-8pm: Steam + Wood = Sculpture Workshop with Jacob Elias: Join visual artist and woodworker, Jacob Elias, for an interactive glimpse into the world of lantern sculptures he’s built for the performance Vulture Sister Song  Jacob will introduce participants to bending wood with steam, an age-old technique employed in utilitarian and decorative applications alike.

Jacob Elias is a violin maker and musician, but has made extended forays into painting, art history, woodworking, acting, as well as evolutionary biology and ecology, in which he holds a master’s degree. While seemingly disparate, these diverse disciplines intersect in their reverence for, and desire to understand the natural world, the raw materials it begets, and their refinement into elemental, beautiful entities.

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This project is supported in part by grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts & The National Endowment for the Arts, Mascoma Bank, and the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation

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