Goose Route Celebrates 10 Years of Contemporary Dance in the Eastern Panhandle

Shepherdstown, WV—For ten summers, Goose Route Arts Collaborative has been producing the Goose Route Dance Festival, showcasing the talents of professional contemporary dance artists from across the United States.  In this, its 10th season, the Dance Festival promises to be the best ever, with 10 unique companies performing dances that are sure to thrill, entertain, and leave audiences wanting more.  The Festival opens on Friday, July 16 and runs through Sunday, July 25, with 8 performances, 2 kids’ shows, 6 classes for adults and teens, 3 classes for children, and 4 post-performance discussions.  All events, except for 1 children’s class, take place at the War Memorial Building, 102 East German Street, Shepherdstown, WV. 


These 10 companies perform in four shows over two weekends, with ticket prices ranging from $10-15.  Show A will be performed Friday, July 16 at 7 pm and Saturday, July 17 at 3 pm.  Show B will be performed Saturday, July 17 at 7 pm and Sunday, July 18 at 3 pm.  Show C will be performed Friday, July 23 at 7 pm and Saturday, July 24 at 3 pm.  Show D will be performed Saturday, July 24 at 7 pm and Sunday, July 25 at 3 pm.  Post-performance discussions, moderated by local dance artist Tosha Tillman, follow each of the matinee performances.  The full schedule is available at  Tickets can also be purchased online at


FROM JULY 16-18, six companies will be featured.  From Middlebury, VT, Big Action Performance Ensemble performs works that are daring, provocative, and curious, awakening us to the brutality and bliss of living and speaking to our humanity.  Big APE performs four works at the Festival: Trash explores themes of neglect and isolation while presenting a dichotomy between what the audience and the performer hear throughout the piece; Necessity questions the ‘essential’ versus the ‘frivolous;’ Away (from here) is an abstract quartet that looks at excess; Spill contemplates the physical body as object.  Big APE is under the direction of Tiffany Rhynard, an artist-turned-dancer who is also known for her film-making.

Vincent Thomas/VT Dance, from Baltimore, MD, returns to the Festival with iWitness, a solo that contemplates simple truths in human behaviors and implied truths in human documents from the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ and the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’ Spoken word and video projection complement Thomas’ fluid dancing to create a powerful and moving piece of dance theater.  Vincent, who brought his Grandmother Project to Shepherdstown several years ago, is known for using art to explore timely issues and for initiating dialogue among diverse people to bring deeper meaning to the work.

Katherine Kiefer Stark and her company The Naked Stark, from Hillsborough, NC, bring two pieces to the Festival: Taking Up Space is a quintet that explores the differences between how men and women occupy space; and A Series of Non-Sequiturs from Left to Right, a piece that explores efficiency in the way we approach our daily routines and our relationships. The work is confined by a timer playing on a TV set that counts down to zero and beeps to signal the end.  Katherine’s work stems from her belief that the world is socially constructed and that we create rather than merely discover its significance.

Coming from Brockport, NY, Rebecca M. Sproul’s work is fun and touching as it reveals a journey to adulthood through virtuosic dancing, text, and subtle gesture.  Her piece, A Mermaid’s Guide to Living on Land, is a trio inspired by mermaids, daffodils, lightning storms, and cowgirls.

Valerie Green brings her troupe, Dance Entropy, from New York City to Shepherdstown, after several years performing around the world, including India, Italy, France, Greece, Russia, Serbia, and Canada. In her solo, Right Now, Green revisits sweet moments from an earlier time in life, exposing a window into the performer’s being as she experiences the immediacy of different emotions.  Echo of a Trace is an abstract affirmation of presence and location. This trio is filled with goddess-like imagery displaying female knowingness, intricate sensuality, and aggressive awkwardness.

Goose Route Dance, under the direction of Kitty Clark, will perform both weekends of the Festival.  Full-bodied physicality, gesture, improvisation, and collaboration infuse Goose Route’s work which explores the relationship between people, places, and ideas.  In the first weekend, the campy Downstairs, an excerpt from the recent Mood House, will be performed, complete with Monica Larson’s fantastical video projection, Colleen Tracey’s crazy costumes, and Cam Millar’s Hitchcockian soundscore.  Stick Woman will also be performed, a solo in which a fierce woman defends her territory.

FROM JULY 23-25, four more companies come to the Festival.  Laura Peterson Choreography, from New York City, brings two outstanding excerpts from its latest work, Forever.  This piece submerges the audience in a kaleidoscope’s saturated and seamless, dazzling light, perfectly symmetrical and precise in its geometry.  Four dancers embark on a physical tour de force, sure to delight Goose Route audiences as they did three years ago when Peterson’s company was last here.  Peterson, often inspired by visual art, creates dances that are performed with a rigor, intelligence, and commitment that creates a complete visual and visceral experience for the audience.

Sharon Mansur/mansurdance returns to the Dance Festival with here/there, an evocative multi-media environment of movement, photos, and video. here/there contemplates the human figure in relation to landscape, mingling presence and absence in relation to one’s sense of place in the world. The kaleidoscopic flux of a moment in time, the fluid stream between self and environment, and the lingering resonance of someone who has come and gone, or is lingering somewhere in between are facets illuminated in here/there. Mansur’s brilliant solo performance is augmented with a series of dance videos.  Mansur, a multi-media dance artist currently based in Washington, DC, melds interests in improvisation, site-specific choreography, and visual art to create her unique body of work.

87 Dance Productions, comprising core members and twin sisters Cara and Mackenzie Hagan, returns to GRDF to perform two live works and show two dance films.  Words Apart, made in collaboration with the Storyline Project of Winston-Salem, depicts the stories of four women, touching upon such themes as equality, love, grief, and friendship. Two Downtown is a not-so-usual trek through downtown Winston-Salem, reminding us that the world is our playground.  Folding Over Twice shows how the steps of little girls become the dance of women; and the world premiere of Quilt, a piece built around the concept of ‘woman’s work’ in which the quilt serves as a metaphor for the collective female experience.  Cara Hagan is 87 Dance Productions’ Artistic Director, based out of Winston-Salem, NC.  Mackenzie Hagan, the company’s managing director, is based out of New York City. 

Green Chair Dance Group comes to Shepherdstown from Philadelphia, PA.
The dance theater of this smart quartet of dancers is grounded in the banalities and complications of everyday life. Uncertainty Principles is a humorous examination of the scientific laws we casually ignore in day-to-day life. Beneath the luminous veneer of the world as perceived by our senese, a rollicking game of creation and annihilation takes place. Particles, forces, and feelings interact at speeds and on scales we can scarecly imagine, tumbling through processes whose inner workings are persistently inaccessible. Green Chair approaches physics with a sense of humor and joy, and their quirky performance is delightful.

During the second weekend, Goose Route Dance will perform Ray C. Shaw’s Bound Conclusions, with original music by Curt Seiss, Old English poetic recitiation by Shepherd English Professor Betty Ellzey, and performance by Shaw and Clark; and Min-uets, four short duets choreographed for Clark and Shaw by Paula Kellinger, Tosha Tillman, Elizabeth Kennedy, and Amy Hatzis. Shaw and Clark’s considerable performance chemistry is displayed, even exploited, in these four very different and distinctive duets.


In addition to the eight performances, there will be six classes for adults/teens.  On Saturday, July 17 at 10:30 am, Vincent Thomas conducts ‘Table Talk: the Pledge of Allegiance and Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ an opportunity for thinkers, activists, and movers of all levels of ability to discuss human rights.  On Sunday, July 18 at 9:00 am, JiJi Beckett leads a restorative yoga class.  On July 18 at 10:30 am, Tiffany Rhynard teaches her ‘Smart Body Technique’ class, informed by release technique, contact improvisation, yoga, and Pilates.  On Saturday, July 24 at 10:30 am, Laura Peterson teaches ‘Continuous Dancing,’ an exhilarating class that will enliven all participants.  On Sunday, July 25 at 9:00 am, Christa Mastrangelo Joyce teaches an invigorating Vinyasa-style yoga class, and at 10:30 am, Cara Hagan teaches a hybrid modern dance technique and improvisation class designed to remind us that dancing is fun.  Adult classes are $12 each, except for the yoga classes which are $10 each.


Three classes for kids will be offered.  On Saturday, July 17 at 9:30 am, Rebecca Sproul teaches Alphabet Soup: Creating Choreography with Children (ages 5-9).  On Thursday, July 22, at 11 am at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, members of Green Chair Dance Group will teach Water Stories (ages 5 and up), in which kids will learn and make up stories about water and interpret them through dance.  On Saturday, July 24, 9:30 am, Green Chair Dance will teach ZoomDance: Action Adventure Story-Telling (ages 3-5).  All classes for children are free of charge.

Also for children are the two family shows, one on Friday, July 16 at 10:30 am and one Friday, July 23 at 10:30 am.  Children will be invited to discover the joy of dance while playing the dance scavenger hunt.  Fidgety children welcome!  There is no charge to attend these shows, but donations are welcome.

Known for its intimate setting and stimulating presentations, the Goose Route Dance Festival is a much-anticipated event.  Seating is limited for each performance and there are a limited number of spaces for each class.  Buy your tickets today online at  For more information call 304-876-6751.

Season sponsors are, at the Gold Level, The Mardi Gras Fund; at the Silver Level, Dan Ryan Builders Charitable Foundation and the Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County; and at the Bronze Level, Tom Maiden’s Insurance Outfitters.

Photo: Big Action Performance Ensemble (Additional photos at