Fields are Alive with the Sound of Music, Dance & More at Kaatsbaan


Kaatsbaan’s lush 153-acre campus in Tivoli (NY’s Hudson Valley) will spring to life with an expansive, first time ever set of experiences from May 20-23rd and May 27-30th. The dynamic program of leading artists from the worlds of dance, music, poetry, sculpture and the culinary arts will bring original diversity. Performances and events will be staged throughout the park, including two outdoor stages, site specific installations and performances designed with and around some of Kaatsbaan’s beautiful landscape features.

Stella Abrera, Artistic Director, tells us: “The name Kaatsbaan, derived from the Dutch for ‘a playing field’, will embody our Spring Festival in every way. This inaugural Spring Festival is a much expanded, more robust and more multi-faceted follow-on from last summer’s festival, which was probably, the only positive local event that was engendered by the Covid pandemic. Faced with the absolute impossibility of delivering a summer 2020 festival with every performance space closed down, theaters dark and indoor gatherings banned, recently appointed Executive Director Sonja Kostich knew there was no possible way to deliver an inside performance. She needed to think outside the box, way outside. She explained, “I believe that the four founders always envisioned Kaatsbaan as a cultural park. What that means is that things would happen on all our 153 acres … not just inside one building.”

So, an original Kaatsbaan experience was born; over 40 artists performed on a new outdoor, raised stage and in specific landscape venues alongside art and film installations. The campus was alive and abuzz with activity- bringing welcome relief to an audience starved for live performance. Kaatsbaan’s management, artistic direction, performers, collaborators and staff received massive kudos for “rescuing” the performance and cultural arts scene, heart and soul.

Since its inception in 1990, Kaatsbaan was designed as an incubator of creativity, emerging talent and ‘cross pollinizing’ cultural collaboration. Kaatsbaan has supported an inclusive and diverse range of artists and their most ambitious projects. The campus is also a year-round performance space, hosting dancers and choreographers in the unique ‘black box’ theater. This intimate space with the stage on floor level (no proscenium) dramatically involves the audience ‘within’ the performance. The audience is seeing, feeling and hearing the work in a way not possible in a grand space like Lincoln Center.  A frequent audience member (like me, for instance) may spot a particular dancer, then want to follow his/her career to center stage.  We get stupendous bragging rights when later on we get to say proudly, “Remember when we first saw him/her at Kaatsbaan and were so thrilled?”

Now, what’s in store for us when we come to Kaatsbaan’s 2021 Spring Festival? Abrera says: We have always been a haven away from the constraints of city life where artists can realize their most ambitious projects. In May, the public will have the opportunity to see this in action as we create immersive experiences across our fields where they can safely encounter an unapparelled range of artists and styles.”

Here are a few irresistible highlights:

Performances from America’s foremost companies and dancers, including new works from American Ballet Theatre by Helen Pickett and James Whiteside; Three Preludes and other signature works from Mark Morris Dance Group; classic Graham pieces from the Martha Graham Dance Company; a new duet from Yannick Lebrun from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Maria Kowroski, Ask la Cour, and Gonzalo Garcia from the New York City Ballet present After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon, Pavane by George Balanchine, and A Suite of Dances by Jerome Robbins.

American Lyric’ is a collaboration between Hunter Noack’s In a Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild and GaranMedia, a dance-based production company founded by Garen Scribner. Audience members will receive wireless headphones allowing them to experience both music and dance while wandering through the meadows that surround Kaatsbaan’s old growth forests.

Hunter Noack, acclaimed concert pianist, will also perform both classic repertoire as well as new music created for the project with Native American flutist James Edmund Greeley … at home in the Kaatsbaan landscape.

Patti Smith and Tony Shanahan (longtime Patti Smith band member) will pay tribute to Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday through original songs and poetry as well as works by Dylan.

A River Runs Through It: … a conversation with local Hudson Valley chefs and farmers about the booming Hudson valley food scene.

Cross Contemporary Partners will curate work by Hudson Valley sculptors and artists placed throughout the Kaatsbaan Cultural Park campus.  All pieces will be on view for the duration of the festival and available for purchase.

It’s a promise: the 2021 Spring Festival at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park brings the fields alive with the sound of music, the spring of dance, the impact of sculpture, the lyrics of poetry and the liveliness of the visual and culinary arts.

Detailed program specifics, schedules and ticket sales can be found on the Kaatsbaan web site- Kaatsbaan is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.


Diana Niles King is a writer covering the arts and she is based in the Hudson Valley, New York

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