Woodstock Times (August 28, 2014, pg 4)
The long view: Overlook, a lecture/dance/performance piece at Historical Society by Violet Snow
“When I first came up with the idea for a performance piece about Woodstock history, I pictured a lot more blurring of fact and fiction,” said choreographer, dancer, and artist Hélène Lesterlin. “But the facts are so much more fantastical than I expected, I’m not really needing fantasy. I use a lot of stuff verbatim.”
Lesterlin has been delving into the Woodstock Historical Society archives and interviewing local eiders to assemble a lecture/dance/performance piece entitled Overlook, which she will present as a work-in-progress at the Historical Society’s Eames House on Comeau Drive on Saturday, August 30, at 7 p.m. She has chosen to focus on the period of change when the Byrdcliffe and Maverick art colonies injected the creative, freewheeling spirit that has been the town’s hallmark since the early 1900s.
“A lot of people think of history as major historical events, like a war,” she said, describing a conversation with town historian Richard Heppner. “He made the point that Woodstock’s history is really the stories of individuals. And this place draws extraordinary people.”
Ninety-year-old Jean Gaede, who has written extensively about Hervey While’s Maverick Colony and its famous festivals, provided much material. She gave Lesterlin access to her published and unpublished writings, in addition to granting three interviews. “Her view of this history is both personal, since she lived it, and historical because she’s done research,” said Lesterlin, who is interested in “how stories encode wisdom. What are the things that come up when people look back on their lives?”
In the archives she found the diary of Florence Pepper, who kept a journal from 1914, at the age of 22, until her death in 1984. “This is where history starts to change into poetry,” said Lesterlin. “At the beginning, almost every day, she writes a line or two, talking about the weather and her tasks and social visits, how she just cut out her gingham dress. When she’s older, she notes, marriages, births, deaths. Older still, only deaths. It gets really minimal: name, died this morning. Name, had their funeral.” Continue reading