Dance homecoming at Phantom Theater

Mary Jo Cahilly-Bretzin as Isadora

Mary Jo Cahilly-Bretzin as Isadora

By Janet Hubbard

The three dancers performing at Phantom Theater this weekend – Amia Cervantes, Isadora Snapp and Mary Jo Cahilly-Bretzin – grew up in The Valley knowing each other and studied rigorously at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio in Montpelier. The three of them danced when younger in Phantom Theater productions. All went off to study dance after high school and are today professional dancers. This weekend Snapp and Cervantes are presenting their choreographed work and Cahilly-Bretzin is taking on Snapp’s role, as Snapp is expecting a baby in September.

Both choreographers have created works that carry a strong message. Snapp’s With Women debuted last year at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio and then was performed at Phantom Theater. It deals with “the birth trauma and post-partum depression I experienced after the birth of my second child in 2014,” Snapp said.

With a cast of eight, there is a 20-minute reflective narrated solo (danced by Cahilly-Bretzin), followed by a joyful, uplifting group piece. When asked how it felt to have Cahilly-Bretzin performing her role, she said, “Mary Jo has a very different style, body type and training than I do, so we’ve changed the feeling of it somewhat. I’m excited to have this opportunity to work with her.” Cahilly-Bretzin said that she is excited to find herself in this moment of her process, both as a dancer and as a woman. She considers it a great learning and growing experience to work with Snapp.

Cervantes, like Snapp, teaches dance at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio. She is also an artist-in-residence at St. Monica School in Barre and is the social dance instructor at the Waldorf Initiative in Plainfield and has choreographed musicals for various high schools. Her choreographed dance titled U.S. and Them came from living in New York and becoming aware of the “intolerably flawed U.S. immigration system.” She saw the same problems in Vermont when she arrived here and is using her art form as a “voice for my frustration and as a way to speak for those who are in hiding.”

U.S. and Them is a multimedia presentation that includes live movement, recorded storytelling and projected text and images that convey what it is like for families to arrive undocumented, living each day fearing deportation.

Phantom Theater is at the corner of Airport and Dump Roads in Warren. The Double Bill of Dance runs August 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. Call (802) 496-5997 for reservations and go to www.phantomtheater.org for directions and information.

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