Vanaver Caravan Summer Dance Programs

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COURTESY OF THE VANAVER CARAVAN
  • courtesy of The Vanaver Caravan

In the mornings, they dance–exploring creative movement or beginning modern, world dance, American folk, and multi-cultural dance traditions. In that way, the children discover what it means, first-hand, that The Vanaver Caravan (the Hudson Valley-based choreography and music nonprofit organization which provides dance education and local and international performance opportunities) inspires the harmonious co-existence of world cultures and traditions. In the afternoons, there are nature hikes, scavenger hunts, theater games, painting, arts and crafts, stories, and song. And every year, the children meet a fairy. The CaravanKids Summer Workshop is a week of adventure, movement, art, imagination, and creativity, held at Stone Mountain Farm in the shadow of the Shawangunk Mountains, about a mile north of New Paltz.

The Vanaver Caravan was established in 1972 by musician/composer Bill Vanaver and dancer/choreographer Livia Drapkin Vanaver. “It grew out of both of our loves of traditional dance around the world, choreography, and composition,” says Livia Vanaver. “It’s a repository for all the work that we love to do, which is eclectic.” During the year, they offer weekly classes for all levels, and immersive arts-education programs for different grade levels in schools. In the summer, there are the summer programs.

In SummerDance on Tour, a three-week workshop, students ages nine through teen are also engaged in a variety of dance forms and styles, expanding perceptions and vocabulary in the world of dance and piquing performance skills. “It was originally a way for us to give extra focus and intensive dance experience to our students who, during the school year, may only get to take class once or twice a week,” explains Vanaver. However, the SummerDance on Tour program attracts a broad spectrum of students from all over–both locals and students who only come to the Hudson Valley in the summer. “We develop a year’s worth of work during the summer. You’re dancing eighteen hours a week, so the growth is so much deeper with this built focus.”

The Vanaver Caravan summer programs have been held at Stone Mountain Farm for the past 25 years, in partnership with Robin and Stephen Larson, who started the Center for Symbolic Studies. The dance day takes place on the outdoor stage, and there’s a smaller, indoor movement studio available. Surrounded by several hundred acres of nature, it’s a beautiful place to foster a love of dance or delve even more deeply into one.

Summer Programs with The Vanaver Caravan at Stone Mountain Farm near New Paltz: CaravanKids for ages 4-8 runs July 17 – 21 and costs $225-$350; SummerDance on Tour for ages 9-teen runs July 24 - August 13 and costs $350-$900. For more info, visit their website.

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