Dirty dancing

| 27 Jun 2017 | 01:53

In 2000, the NY State Council on the Arts offered to fund more NYC dance and music performances in rural Orange County, giving rise to the Warwick Summer Arts Festival (warwicksummerarts.com). The highlight to date had to be the signature sunset performance on the sodded black dirt of the Bob and Sally Scheuermann Farm in Pine Island. (Thump, thump, be still my heart). It was the perfect fusion of the rural and urban.

The current producers, Melissa Padham-Maas and Marcella Bumpus, bring the next generation of sensibility to this 12-day festival. Padham-Maas is Orange County born and bred and has added a local flavor that deepens the appeal of the festival, strengthening the marriage of the arts to the local beauty. The festival runs from July 19 through August 5, coinciding with some of the events of the Warwick sesquicentennial — which are scattered around town at the bowling alley, in village shop windows, in parades, and at the local drive-in.

Like last year, Wickham Woodlands, the new park located at the old prison on Wickham Lake, will be the site of magic sunset dance and music performances on July 28 from 6-9 p.m., starting with a lawn picnic with food trucks available.

My taste for the off-beat runs to the Dusklit event (dusklit.com) on July 29 at the Seligmann Center for Surrealism in Sugar Loaf. It’s a three-hour pop-up event which features unpredictability —perfect at the home of an old surrealist! There’s a bog, old farm buildings, a graveyard and rolling fields on 55 acres… all at twilight.

Dusklit is equal parts carnival side show-church bazaar-Burning Man-romper room. Last year, there was dance, drama, food, including edible pancake portraits, where artists “draw” your image in pancake batter then cook it for you. Forty artist experiences are in the works, including the building of a Native American tipi from branches. From 9 p.m. to midnight, there’s a dance party, and free shuttle busses from the Chester Park n Ride. Daniel Mack