While many of us were lying on a beach (or wishing we were lying on a beach) this summer, Audrey Ellis ’06 and Sarah Capua ’06—for the fourth year in a row—organized a dance festival.
Called a+s works on the farm, the event was held in Hornell, N.Y., from July 29 to August 3 and offered music and dance-making workshops to community members. Nine dance professionals, including the members of Ellis and Capua’s company, a+s works, choreographed and performed original works. They also premiered the company’s piece, Truth and Country Music. Dancers Erin Reid ’06 and Alexis Iammarino ’05—from Baltimore, Md., and Rockland, Maine—were among this year’s guest artists. Charles Gushue ’07 and Rebecca Sproul Gushue ’07 attended as company members. A videographer and professional musicians also took part.
Ellis and Capua, who in 2009 founded the Brooklyn-based a+s works,conceived of the festival as a way to expand the community of dancers by exposing more people to dance and giving a voice to underserved populations. “The type of arts programming that we’re providing to the community members does not exist otherwise in Hornell,” said Ellis. “It’s very special for them to feel that they can offer something, to give themselves permission to be a part of the art-making process.”
This year, the festival drew about 75 participants to the Ellis family farm, which is located five hours from Brooklyn. It offered a perfect setting for artists and community members to come together. “It’s like a dream,” said Capua. “We are astounded by how inspiring the experience of collaborative art-making is for everyone involved. It is worth every moment of work we put into it.”
When not planning festivals, Capua works as a freelance yoga instructor in Brooklyn, and Ellis is earning her doctoral degree in philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. To learn more about a+s works and the festival, visit www.asworks.org.
Did you do something exciting with your summer? We’d love to hear about your adventures! Share your photos and stories in the comments section below.
-Natalie Guajardo ’16