Dance to Prince and Bowie, or spectate in a Japanese garden

Aria Roach performs at Mytoi with the Yard. — Courtesy The Yard

This weekend marks The Yard’s unofficial launch of its 2017 season, and they’re bringing back two events by popular demand.

On Friday, June 2, the dance collective will host a Prince and Bowie DanceHall with Island DJ Christopher Anderson. The event was brought to their Chilmark venue last year as a tribute, and also as an outlet for public dance. “A lot of people on this Island like to dance in a social kind of way,” said David White, artistic director and executive producer of The Yard. “We like to provide that on our end. Last year, no one could stop moving.” The dance starts at 8 pm, and there is a $10 admission fee.

These informal public events are part of The Yard’s commitment to community outreach. It’s one thing to to be entertained — it’s another to be part of the entertainment.

On Saturday, June 3, The Yard will occupy the Mytoi Garden on Chappaquiddick. This improvised performance marks the company’s first public presentation every summer. Although much of the performance is as unpredictable as nature itself, it is structured around a loose routine choreographed by co-directors Alison Manning and Jesse Keller. Passersby on Saturday’s stroll might run into other alternative performers, including Island improvisational dance group What’s Written Within, local musician Nina Violet, and Mongolian horsehead fiddler Milo Silva.

“It’s a really nice thing,” Mr. White said. “People encounter spontaneous dance action while they wander the Japanese gardens.”

The free Mytoi Garden performance takes place from 1 to 3 pm, and is sponsored by The Trustees of Reservations. According to Mr. White, the event is a good way to keep the company in touch with hard-to-reach Chappy residents. As a full-fledged, year-round organization on the Island, The Yard makes it a priority to cover all corners of the community.

“If we’re going to be successful, we have to be owned by the year-round population,” Mr. White said. The Yard has invested programs like “Making It” for the year-rounders, in schools and senior centers.

“In general, the Island may not know a lot about dance and its related art forms,” Mr. White said. “To do that, we try to keep things mixed up and offer a waterfront of works.”

Following this weekend’s informal launch of the 2017 season, The Yard looks to the next weekend of performances with The Schonberg Fellows. Works from directors Raja Feather Kelly and David Hamilton Thomson will be showcased on Thursday, June 8, and Saturday, June 10.

“It will be a really terrific, interesting, and different way to kick off our first formal performances,” Mr. White said.

DanceHall event admission is $10; the performance at Mytoi is free.

This article by Brittany Bowker originally appeared on