This Program is supported in part by a grant from the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Who are we?

We are YOU, your friends, neighbors, children, parents, students and teachers! The Built on Stilts Dance Festival is comprised of work by members of the Vineyard Community and professional performing artists from the island and beyond.
Registration deadline was July 1, 2016

Our TWENTIENTH year celebrating the shared language of dance through an incomparably egalitarian and inspiring season of programming will be held
Thursday, August 11 - Sunday, August 14, 2016 and
Saturday, August 20 - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

All shows will be at Union Chapel, 55 Narragansett Avenue, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. See map

Festival shows are free and open to the public: NO TICKETS OR RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Audiences may come and go as they please. Doors open at 7:30pm followed by drumming, dancers warm-up and stilting demo outside. Dance performances begin at 8pm.

Join us for a SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY GARDEN PARTY FUNDRAISER! Tickets and more for the party HERE.

DVDS of individual night's of 2005-2015's fests as well as our 10 and 15 year anniversary retrospective video may be available for $20 each. Accepting DVD order between June and September ONLY. Please email shakes9999@​ with inquiries.

Over forty works were presented at BOS 2015 over 6 nights. Each evening's program featured a different arrangement of dances including modern, ballet, bellydance, African, hip hop, improv, lyrical, jazz, live music, line dancing, and much more. Thanks to all the performers and choreographers and the incredible outpouring of support from our audiences!

The Martha's Vineyard Built on Stilts project was spearheaded by Abby Bender and Anna Luckey in 1997 in the hopes of creating an all-inclusive, grassroots performance venue for island artists. The pair are two of the five founding members of the former New York City-based collective dance company KICK STAND DANCE which enjoyed a long partnership from 1998-2005. The group cooperatively ran the Brooklyn based studio and theater, Triskelion Arts, a rehearsal and performance center for theater, dance and circus arts, now a vibrant far-reaching nonprofit organization that's been under Abby's direction since 2005.

Built on Stilts has grown substantially since its inception, and what began in August 1997 as a magical one-night performance of the works of seven choreographers, has evolved into an enormous festival of the island's remarkable artistic spirit. The event now runs between 6 and 8 nights and features more than forty original dance or other performing arts pieces presented by dozens of performers from near and far. Interested visiting artists are encouraged to bring their work to the island for the festival.

Built on Stilts is a creative playground for both children and adults, from beginners to professionals, representing diverse stylistic backgrounds. Over the years, the event has showcased ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz, tap, breakdance, bellydance, tai chi, movement theater, circus arts, pilates-based dance, mime, improvisation, spoken word and, of course, a bit of stilting. Each performance opens with an improvisational drum circle open to all willing musicians. The rhythms bouncing down Circuit Avenue draw in passersby, who flood the gates of the historic Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, which has housed the festival since its inception.

This is you - having fun - whether you're part of the show, or in the audience.