Personally speaking – Livia Vanaver

Livia Vanaver. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Livia Vanaver. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Ever since she and her husband Bill Vanaver and their dance/music troupe the Vanaver Caravan moved from Queens to the Hudson Valley, Livia Drapkin Vanaver has become a renowned dancer/choreographer/educator here and abroad. Just this past week she was asked to choreograph a five-minute dance routine to the tune “I Love New York,” which more than 1,000 people would do at the same time along the 1.2-mile Walkway Over the Hudson in an attempt to break a world record.

“I had to make the steps simple, so that dancers and non-dancers and people of all ages could do them,” said Livia. “It wasn’t my greatest piece of choreography, but it was for a community fundraiser; and being a choreographer also means being able to orchestrate something that someone needs you to do, and that was a lot of fun!”

The Vanaver Caravan Dancers and Musicians recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the troupe’s first performance at the Washington Square Methodist Church in the West Village in 1972. Two years later, they moved to the Hudson Valley and grew into a touring company of dancers and musicians that presents a variety of entertaining and informative programs that synthesize various ethnic and regional styles ranging from Appalachian clogging to flamenco, complemented by a range of modern techniques. To learn more about their performances, programs and camps, go to


Livia is known not only for her energy and enthusiasm, but also for her professional breadth of knowledge and experience in international dance, song and music, as well as being an educator and choreographer. Part of the great tapestry of the Hudson Valley, she is the subject of this week’s New Paltz Times Meet & Greet.

The Vanaver Caravan Dancers and Musicians

Choreographer/educator, co-founder and artistic director of the Vanaver Caravan

Where are you from originally?

What makes the New Paltz/Rosendale region unique?
First of all, it is so beautiful here! It is breathtakingly beautiful. There is also a vibrant energy here that I haven’t found anywhere else in the world.

What do you like about the Rosendale community?
I love the people here. There is such a strong sense of community in Rosendale. We do a lot together, especially centered around the Rosendale Theatre. We get things done and care for each other. I guess there’s just such a sense of hope and of endless possibilities in this area. When you see what’s going on in the world around us, I feel that I’m blessed to live in a place where there is still such hope and belief in the future.