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Land O' Lake's Art Harvest showcases dance inspired by native trees

Dolo McComb and Scott Stafford perform "Hemlock - Maple - White Pine" in Land O' Lakes.
Erin Gottsacker
Dolo McComb and Scott Stafford perform "Hemlock - Maple - White Pine" in Land O' Lakes.

Land O’ Lakes celebrated the fall season at its annual Art Harvest over the weekend with a professional dance performance featuring local trees.

As soft piano music harmonizes with the sounds of nature, two dancers glide onto a stage set against the backdrop of a red pine forest.

Dancing to a piece called “Hemlock – Maple – White Pine,” their movements mimic the trees behind them.

“’Hemlock – Maple – White Pine’ is a performance work that is inspired by the trees of the Northwoods,” says Scott Stafford, the dance’s choreographer. “The performers in the work each took a different tree, studied the aspects of that tree, and took those qualities and embodied that through performance.”

Stafford was inspired to bring this performance to life after a visit to Sylvania, one of the largest old-growth forests in the country.

“It felt like an idea or feeling that had generated from my time spent in Sylvania,” he explained. “When I had a platform to create a performance work, it felt like the performance work was already made. I just had to put vocabulary to that feeling, vocabulary being the movements, the dance and the performers.”

With all those pieces in place, the resulting dance is transformative.

Each dancer endeavors to express the quality, texture and majesty of a single tree.

Observed together, they make a forest.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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