“Overlook” – great preview article in the Woodstock Times

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 She gave Lesterlin access to her published and unpublished writings, in addition to granting three interviews.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 ““Overlook” – great preview article in the Woodstock Times”

Geographica at Olana – rain or shine

Jack Magai and I weathered the rain yesterday at Olana – performing our improvised duet “Geographica” for the full three hours! The audience listened to the sound-score with personal radios and headsets, under umbrellas and hoods. Gloomy and mysterious with fog and clouds rolling in and out. An afternoon suspended between imaginary realms and the insistent drama of reality.

Maverick festival sparks

I love this image. I came across it as I researched for Overlook, the lecture/performance that I’ll be showing a snippet of this Saturday. It’s of the Allen family at one of the infamous Maverick festivals in Woodstock in the 1920s. Everyone wore a costume because the entrance fee was doubled if you didn’t and in any case, it was the thing to do.

Overlook + Geographica

Parallel processing happening over here as I create two new shows this summer. Both of these new works have been made from source material drawn from historic archives, and both play with the relationship between past and present, history and fiction, art and life.

I will show a first version of Overlook in a work-in-progress performance on August 30th at the Historical Society in Woodstock NY. In this piece, I begin by seeming to give a lecture on the eye-opening origins of Woodstock’s art colonies, then it devolves (or evolves) into a dance.

On September 13th, Jack Magai and I will perform our epic three hour-long Geographica,a site-specific work created with a backdrop of magnificent aery landscape, seen from the hilltop grounds of the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson NY. The sound for the piece is audible via radio transmission (you can bring your own radio if you’d like, but headphones and radios will be provided).  If you haven’t been to Olana yet, Groundswell is a perfect reason to go – an afternoon of sound, installation, art and performance presented by Wave Farm and the Olana Partnership. Tickets on sale now!

Hope to see you soon at one of these events!

-Hélène Lesterlin



“Dance and the Museum”

Hot off the press! An article I wrote for the series “Dance and the Museum”, published by Critical Correnspondence / Movement Research, NYC.

“Agnes Martin’s brand of minimalism isn’t for everyone, but I am always star-struck when I come across one of her drawings or paintings. Like a gust of chill, fresh air, with a view of some wide, empty expanse, her work gives me a settled, alert feeling.” Continue reading…

WANTED: Puppet Theater Intern

Looking for an intern to help get our beasty medieval shadow puppet show ready for Labapalooza – a mini festival of puppet theater on May 30-June 1, 2014 at St. Ann’s Warehouse, NYC. Take notes at rehearsals, help build and maintain puppets, act as all around runner and problem solver! In return, get the inside scoop on those final weeks of puppet mayhem. Must be NYC-based or willing to get yourself there. A background in theater, puppetry or dance desired. Must be available for all our rehearsals, tech, dress and the shows on the following days: May 5, 12, 19-20, 25, 28-31, and June 1-2.

Please email a short letter of motivation and description of your background to Hélène Lesterlin: info@studio-reynard.com. We will notify you by May 11!

Wishing you good cheer for 2014!

2013 marks Studio Reynard’s first year of operations!  We have so much to celebrate:

  • The construction and launch of our beautiful 300 sq ft studio space
  • The Studio Reynard launch party in March
  • The initiation of the Café Isegrim dinner salon series with evenings of food, friends and work in progress showings in June and November
  • The ongoing development of our puppet theater project, The Fox versus The Kingdom
  • New classes offered to adults and kids in modern dance and puppet theater

…and last but not least

  • Our weekly trips to The Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse, NYC; a 9-month development workshop that will end with an excerpt of our show performed in May 2014

As we gear up for the new year, and look ahead to building our capacity to offer events, performances, classes and workshops, we are taking a moment to pause and reflect on the riches of the past year. We are so grateful to you, our supporters, who have made it all possible!

Best wishes for the holidays and happy new year!

Hélène Lesterlin
Artistic Director