The Heritage Dance Center of Vermont's new home will open on the Highgate Road on Tuesday with free performances and a black tie evening reception to meet the artists. Construction of the Center began as a fast track "design-build" project just 8 months ago on land donated by Brian Rowell of Highgate.
      "This is the first major project to come out of the Dance Heritage Corridor Act funding initiative," Alicia Carmoody said, speaking for the Vermont Congressional Delegation. Governor Jim Douglas and all three members of the delegation are expected at the Grand Opening.
      Enacted three years ago, The Northeast Dance Heritage Corridor Act created the Dance Heritage Corridor Committee in the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Committee, working with nine state Transportation Agencies, has determined the street and highway routes that qualify to be designated as Dance Heritage Corridors as well as specific locations that qualify to be identified within the designated heritage corridors.
      The sole Vermont location is the Highgate Road in Franklin County on a path trod by Civil War era dancers.
      "This is a little unusual," Brian Rowell said, "but I'm glad to work with it."
      Cirque du Soleil will perform two pieces from the high intensity, acrobatic Saltimbanco at the Grand Opening. They will also debut a new small-troupe work. Think "ballet shot from a cannon" for the debut work. Cirque performers will also teach at least one master class per quarter in the new facility.
      "This is where our youngest troupe can experiment with new techniques and present smaller works that do not fit the touring shows or our major fixed exhibitions," Cirque du Soleil spokesman Andre LeMoox-Mieux said. "It is very convenient to our home base." The company originated in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec and is based in Montreal.
Remember the Date
      The Cirque national tour spent last night in the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita; that show continues through Sunday. Some members will travel from that show to the one-day only event in Highgate and then on to the April 2-6 show at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Their Vermont staging will be considerably smaller than the Wintuk theater show in New York, La Nouba at Disney World in Orlando, and their five stages in Las Vegas, Nevada.
      The Heritage Center has studios and classroom space both for the Cirque-led modern ballet classes and for five local dance programs ready to begin programs later in April. The performance space includes the main Rowell Theater with 1,120 seats, the intimate Cirque room with "seating in the round," and a ballroom that can do double duty as meeting space. The 24,000 square foot building is designed for national touring company as well as local productions. Construction funding was provided under the Dance Heritage Corridor Act with additional grants from the State of Vermont, the Grant W. Grant Foundation, and contributions from local businesses.
      The Kansas and Northeastern Arts Consortium for Knowledge is the advocate in Washington, D.C., for the state arts councils of the New England states, plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kansas as well as some Local Arts Service Organizations. The consortium monitors the more than 6,000 House and Senate bills, resolutions, and amendments introduced annually for their impact on the arts in this region. The consortium was the driving force behind this heritage corridor.
Check the Date
      Executive Director Clive Bartlesby was pleased by the announcement. "The Vermont delegation has a real knack for this kind of funding," he said.
      "The community wanted a ballet school with a twist," Mr. Rowell said. "We needed a way to pay for that so this worked out well."
      Admission is free for all performances and for the evening reception on Tuesday. Remember to put Tuesday's date, April 1, in your calendar.

      Remember Tuesday's date. There may be Cirque performances before and after April 1 but they will not be in Highgate this year. It is, after all, that time again and you have been fooled.

Check the Date

Rest assured that it is (about) April 1
and you have been fooled.


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