"For me, this "Yard" would be a playground without walls. A place to explore, experiment, and construct. A place of possibility, joy, love, anger, frustration; a space in which to come together and to be alone."  - Patricia Nanon, The Yard Founder


Patricia nanon. Photo by Jaxon White, courtesy of the Vineyard Gazette

Patricia nanon. Photo by Jaxon White, courtesy of the Vineyard Gazette

The Yard supports diverse, contemporary dance-makers and related artists in their creative processes through paid, creative residency, public performance, long term education, and artist driven civic engagement.  We serve all ages and cultural populations on Martha’s Vineyard, and work collaboratively with artists, producers, and other cultural organizers within regional, national, and international contexts.  


Founded in 1973 by the late choreographer/philanthropist Patricia N. Nanon, The Yard is singular in its legacy, mission, and island community commitment. Ms. Nanon’s vision of providing creative “new work” residencies and public performance opportunities for choreographers and dance companies - carried forward and amplified since 2011, under the leadership of David R. White, Alison Manning, and Jesse Keller - has had a lasting impact on the national dance field.  Among the many artists that The Yard has supported to date: The Bang Group; Urban Bush Women; Cuba’s Malpaso; Art Bridgman/Myrna Packer; Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, a Dance Company; The Wondertwins; Raphael Xavier; Susan Marshall; Camille A. Brown and Dancers;  Doug Elkins; Everett Company; Michelle Dorrance; and the ice-skate artists of Montreal’s Le Patin Libre.

The institution achieves its mission through an integrated ensemble of extended national/international artist research residencies, public presentations, local education programs, and year-round community building activities. The Yard’s main YARD ARTS season runs late May through mid-September. The new WINTER YARD series now populates the period November to May.  And MAKING IT, our intergenerational applied movement and dance-making initiative, is now active year-round in virtually all Island schools, as well as at the YMCA, Island libraries, the Farm Institute, the island’s senior and assisted living centers, and of course at The Yard (KidsDODance!).  


The Yard is located in the charming town of Chilmark. ­Named after a village in the English county of Wiltshire, the town of Chilmark, was first settled in 1660.  With the fishing village of Menemsha to the north, and the neighboring coastal town of Aquinnah on the western tip of Martha’s Vineyard, Chilmark is a beautiful and quiet part of Martha's Vineyard.

With less than 900 year-­round residents, Chilmark is mostly rural and residential, known for its gorgeous beaches, organic farms, and Menemsha’s thriving fishing community.  Menemsha offers amazing harbor views, an enormous pond for kayaking, and a great beach great for sunset viewing (as soon as the sun drops below the horizon, the audience of lobster‐eating beach­‐goers customarily applaud and cheer). You may also remember some of Menemsha’s buildings and beach as the fictional town of “Amity Island” in the 1975 Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws.