MUSIC - THEATER - DANCE
Star Mountin Road
Sharon, Vermont 05065
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: REVELS, REVELS NORTH, RIVERFEST.
FLOCK DANCE TROUPE
TEACHER, DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER, PERFORMER
Since the first Christmas Revels, presented in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts --an event which I produced and directed -- my work as an artist centered around REVELS. Annual Christmas Revels productions now attract tens of thousands of people in nine cities around the United States. In addition celebrations of other seasons and sources of inspiration have led to Country Revels, Sea Revels, Shaker Revels and Spring Revels in a variety of settings. In all of these developments I have worked to restore to contemporary life an awareness of the richness of legacies of traditional art forms from many parts of the world, of the elevating and healing power of ritual and celebration, and of the joy and wisdom that can be found in acknowledging the existence of forces in myth and in nature which transcend our day-to-day concerns.
In the process of researching and creating various scripts, I have traveled to many parts of the United States and of other countries, collecting folk traditions of Appalachia, New England, Ireland, Russia, England, and traditions of the American Cowboy, Mayan, and Hopi people. I relate traditional ritual and celebration to contemporary social, cultural and ecological concerns. In Revels productions, I have combined the traditional elements of celebration of the Winter Solstice with explorations of important social concerns, such as alienation of minority populations, communication between the sexes, overcoming negative cultural stereotypes and the rebuilding of community.
OTHER THEATER WORK
From time to time I have written, produced and directed theater events with an explicitly political purpose. The most notable of these was Button, Button, Who’s got the Button: A Dream of Nuclear War, a large-scale, outdoor program created in 1980 and presented in several Vermont communities. In 1990 there was Pilgrimage Home: A Vision of Our Healed Earth, and a United Nations Day observance, Vision of Our Future.
My work was awarded a Citation in 1981 by the Vermont Council on the Arts.
FLOCK DANCE TROUPE
1999 marked the beginning of my new dance/theater troupe FLOCK, combining professional dancers with talented members of the community of all ages. For Flock I have created a eight full length dance works, all of which have been performed successfully. Flock also performs small scale “Sightings” in special places where people are gathered. 2001 brought forth the start up of FLOCK Dance Company in Galway, Ireland where FLOCK creations, have also been successfully performed and received. In 2005 Flock received the Galway Arts Council Award.
From 1995 - 1997 I was Executive Director of The Connecticut RiverFest, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and celebrating the Connecticut River watershed. Our mission was to bring artists, educators, scientists, and ordinary citizens together to focus on the life of the river. Besides running the overall organization I conceived and implemented two projects: 1. RiverDay, a school/community program of a day spent by the river involving natural science, hands-on improvements and art forms. The day ends with a ceremony promising stewardship. 2. Voice of the River, was a fourteen part radio series combining oral history, music and poetry, science, and solutions.
I have taught theater, dance, music and interweaving the arts in many different settings and was for several years an Education Resource Agent for the Vermont department of Education. In 1991 I instituted the Earth & Arts Camp,, a program for children in which the arts and the natural world are explored and brought together. Based on my own dance style and choreography, starting in 1997, I have taught, facilitated Dance workshops and held residencies in Vermont in schools (or schools in Vermont?). Because I love to work with families, I have organized multigenerational workshops open to community members. Also in Ireland, I teach teachers through the National Education Centre of Galway, and have established a strong practice working with disabled people.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Between 1962 and 1968 I was successively, a student at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Dalcroze School of Music, the Martha Graham School of Dance, and the Neighborhood Playhouse, all in New York City; and the Connecticut College School of Dance. My dance teachers included Martha Graham, Jose Limon and Pearl Lang. I studied drama with Sanford Meisner. In music I was taught by, among others, Jean Ritchie (dulcimer), Helen Boatwright (voice), and Charles Hurd and Nicholas van Slyke (composition). In addition I have had the opportunity through the Country Dance & Song Society to study with leading experts in many areas of traditional music and folk dance. Much of my love of folk music and folk lore comes from my mother, Diane Hamilton’s numerous collecting trips in Appalachia and the British Isles. My father, singer/performer John Langstaff, has opened me up to the world of ritual and performance.
A LITTLE OF MY HISTORY
A little of my history: I had the good fortune of having a father, John Langstaff, who was a professional concert singer and who inspired many along the way to make music, including myself. Later we collaborated for 25 years creating Revels productions all over the country. My mother, Diane Hamilton, immersed herself in collecting traditional music mainly in Ireland and Appalchia. “Through her collecting work in Ireland she became an enabling presence during the early years of the Irish folk revival. She was a catalyst in the formation of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and the Bothy Band.
In addition I was exposed to and learned from a bevy of unusual artists and teachers. At the Longy School of Music I studied composition with Nicolas Van Slyke. Sandy Meisner at the Neighborhood Play House taught me “the reality of doing”. Martha Graham was my mentor. I studied with her for seven years learning to use breathe, spirals, and contractions and to watch animals and to be totally focused in what ever I was doing.
Through all this music was always around me. I played many instruments: piano, mountain dulcimer, guitar, recorder, oboe and flute, and sang in a traditional style influenced by all the collecting trips I was taken on by my mother, both here and abroad. I was introduced to English, American and ritual dance, which led me to exploring Native American Dance, and in so doing witnessed the Buffalo Dance in Taos, NM.
My curiosity grew as I learned from storytellers, elder artists, children at play, people with differences: from gypsies to disabled and dysfunctional people. I’ve learned what I have to teach from the diversity of what I’ve been exposed to.
My interest developed in interweaving the arts. By using this approach students are brought to paths of visualization and leadership, to a respect for the human spirit and the environment which nurtures it and which has been given into human care."