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Craven: New England Gems

06/16/10 7:55AM By Jay Craven
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(HOST) Filmmaker and Marlboro College teacher Jay Craven is planning some cultural tourism this summer in Vermont and elsewhere in New England.

(CRAVEN) One of my favorite experiences as a filmmaker is the time I spend on the road in summer, showing my work in scores of Vermont towns and dozens more throughout New England.  

On the road I'm always grateful for the chance to spend a night at the Grafton Inn, take in a show at Dorset Theater, or hear a concert at the Marlboro Music Festival.  I also have two favorite New England events outside of Vermont - both of them gems that we're lucky to have here because they represent the very best in their respective fields.

In Lee, Massachusetts, just an hour from Bennington and an hour and a half from Brattleboro, the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is America's leading presenter of dance.  The festival was established in 1942 by dancer Ted Shawn, in the nation's first theater built specifically for dance.  The enchanting landscape at the Pillow is rooted in late 1700's New England farm architecture.  Its annual summer series promises many free events and the world's most robust, inventive, and even revolutionary dance companies in residence.  This summer's highlights include innovators Karole Armitage and Bill T. Jones, the Goteborg Ballet, emerging choreographer Monica Bill Barnes, and many more.  You could spend days immersed in the wonder of Jacob's Pillow and always come away refreshed, informed, and inspired with new eyes for seeing the world.

During a recent interview, Jacob's Pillow director Ella Baff talked about giving audiences experiences that are unpredictable, exciting, and different.  "This is what it means to be a curator," she said.  "To combine how you feel about your audiences with what you see in the entire world of dance.  I work here to build a culture of curiosity rooted in trust  where I can open it up for people to engage."

More than any other art form, dance requires a willingness to experience the unknown and to respond to one's own instincts, to capture each moment and find personal meaning.  A visit to Jacob's Pillow promises revelations of sublime beauty and profound ideas.

Each June, along the resplendent New England coast, the intimate and accessible Nantucket Film Festival also hosts an inspired showcase of new and compelling work.  Directors Mystelle Brabbe and Colin Stanfield celebrate great storytelling.  And they kick off this year's edition June 17th with just a couple dozen carefully chosen films that allow audiences to interact with filmmakers and to share a common experience of the festival.  This year's line-up includes Irish family favorite The Secret of Kells, gritty Ozarks Sundance winner Winter Bone, and Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman, with its hopeful but probing examination of the crisis in American public education.

Nantucket will also host special guests Robert Duvall, writer/director Barry Levinson, and comedians Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Andy Samberg, and Zach Galifianakis.

The arts are alive in New England thanks to vision and hard work aimed at attracting audiences willing to engage, enjoy, and discover.
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