Before heading back to Europe, I have been invited by Bebe Miller to join her and a small group of other dance artist and educators for a week at Bearnstow in Maine. The retreat is a studio-based exchange between professional dance teachers on current strategies, scope and direction of contemporary dance training. Given the range of training, background and diversity of our current and future students, dialogues about the form and content of contemporary studio practice will make up the core content of this retreat - as will sharing methodologies for technique, composition and improvisation coursework.
Bearnstow is located on sixty-five acres of wooded land on Parker Pond in Mount Vernon, Maine, at the headwaters of the west branch of the Forty Mile River, part of the Androscoggin watershed. The property includes 2,400 feet of unique, rocky shoreline and twelve rustic buildings tucked away behind the treeline. Most of these charming houses are nearly a century old. The oldest structure, the Lodge, was the only building on Parker on the 1880 U.S. Geological Survey.
Since 1994 Bearnstow has been protected by conservation easement held by the Kennebec Land Trust. In 2007 Bearnstow was recognized for its historic significance and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Founded in 1946 by Ruth Grauert and Frances Reid, Bearnstow has had a rich history of arts-related activities linked to a practice of environmental responsibility. Throughout its history the resonance of place in all activities has been central to the mission. Bearnstow’s unspoiled environment provides an alternative freedom for aesthetic expression away from the demands of daily life. This attention to the care of place, land, and spirit is central to the daily practice.