Goose Route Dance Festival

A celebration of modern dance

A celebration of modern dance

July 11, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

Set back from a remote, rural road, the southern Washington County home sits like a sanctuary erected amidst silent trees and a clear, quiet sky.

Inside, Kitty Clark and Therese Keegan flutter across a hardwood floor, three metal shopping carts littering the otherwise open space.

With a smooth, silky motion of waving limbs, Clark and Keegan put themselves through ever-evolving paces. A dance phrase here tacked onto a second there leading into yet another and back again.

One sculpts the other's body into perfect position, the apex of balance, grace and an economy of motion, while outside a sticky hot afternoon festers.


And then, laughter. A lot of it as another phrase fizzles and they begin again in the blissfully air-conditioned room.

Their bare feet are dark with smudges born out of a solid hour of bouncing across the floor of Keegan's Knoxville studio.

Keegan: Let's go from the top with the shopping cart. ... Is this the safe one, sort of?

Clark: This is the one we've been using, so I hope so.

Soon, the duo's fusion of dance movements will become "Fences and Fields," a work born out of their interest in the increasing loss of farmland in rural communities. The shopping carts represent where food comes from.

On Sunday, July 21, "F&F" will debut on the last evening of the second Goose Route Dance Festival, a two weekend celebration of modern dance scheduled to coincide with the ongoing Contemporary American Theater Festival.

Named for the migration route of Canadian Geese and made possible in part by the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, W.Va., Goose Route aims to bring together contemporary modern dancers new and established, urban and rural, to shed light on the art form.

Dancers from as far away as New York will converge on the War Memorial Building in Shepherdstown, W.Va., during early weekend evenings to give theater goers a chance to augment their CATF experience with a dollop of modern dance.

Keegan: My left foot has to be in front.

Clark: Oh. That's a problem.

Keegan: Not necessarily.

During a break in their rehearsal, Keegan and Clark discuss Goose Route and the rare opportunity to collaborate with fellow modern dancers in a rural area not exactly teeming with them.

For instance, they had vaguely known about one another for years before finally being introduced a year ago. Since, they have thrived on having a sounding board for new ideas and critiques.

"When you're involved in something as specific as modern dance, it's nice to have a colleague to bounce things off of," Clark says. "Having found Therese, we both wish there were 10 more of us out there. We don't have to do solo work (now). We can do duets."

With husband Cam Millar, Clark directs Art Farm, an organization aiming to make contemporary art accessible to the broadest range of people. They organized Goose Route, which itself is an offshoot of Art Farm sponsored evenings of mixed media performances ranging from dance to music to poetry to visual arts.

The Shepherdstown area, Clark says, is a fabulous incubator of artistic expression. Goose Route aims only to build upon the existing foundation.

"Shepherdstown is wonderful for any entrepreneurial artist to succeed," Clark says. "Not monetarily, necessarily, but patted on the back. People want to see things like this, they don't just want to sit at home and watch TV and go to the bar."

If you go . . .

Goose Route Dance Festival, featuring works by nine contemporary choreographers and followed by informal question and answer sessions

Saturdays and Sundays, July 13, 14,

20 and 21

6 p.m.

War Memorial Building

German and King streets

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Admission is $10, $7 for students and children. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at Ellsworth Music, 132 W. German St., Shepherdstown

For information, call


send e-mail to; or go to

goose.html on the Web.

Choreographers on parade

Featured performers during the second Goose Route Dance Festival include:

Bess Park-Reynolds

Leader of feMo Dance Theatre, an all-female company from Huntington, W.Va., she is also a professor of dance and musical theater at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va.

Shannon Hummel

Artistic director of the New York-based CORA, her dances are influenced by rural areas, from her home state of Virginia to time spent in Kentucky.

Cynthia McLaughlin

A Shepherdstown, W.Va., resident, McLaughlin will debut a new piece during the festival. She will be joined by dancer Pia Peltola and percussionist Scott Wilkinson.

Kitty Clark

Joined by trombonist Cam Millar, Clark will perform "Are We There Yet?", which combines dance, music, storytelling, projected image and "a bit of the surreal" in a meditation about finding our way home.

Marcy Schlissel

She will perform "Origins," a solo work based on her travels to Cuba. Also, dancer Stephen Clapp will present the Schlissel-directed piece, "Quiet Mind."

Lucy Bowen McCauley

Based in Washington, D.C., McCauley and dancer Robert Sidney will present "Two-Bas," a romantic duet to piano and tuba music. They will also perform new solos.

Jennifer Chin

With musician Arthur Solari, New York-based Chin will perform "The Weight of Lightness," featuring continuous movement and a maze of red on the stage floor.

Clare Byrne

A New York choreographer, Byrne's company will perform three works: "Looking Down the Fire Lane"; "Bye and Bye"; and excerpts from "Wet Blue," an evening-length work.

Therese Keegan

Joined by Clark, the Knoxville resident will premiere their collaborative piece, "Fences and Fields," influenced by the impact of increasing and rapid loss of farmland in rural Maryland and West Virginia.

The Herald-Mail Articles