(BECKET, Mass.) – Recently honored by President Barack Obama with the National Medal of Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival officially kicks off its 2011 season on Saturday, June 18, with a star-studded Season Opening Gala featuring performances by dancers of Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève performing Benjamin Millepied’s (fresh off his role in Black Swan and the expectant father of Natalie Portman’s baby) duet Closer; dynamic performances by David Neumann, KEIGWIN + COMPANY, and the Mark Morris Dance Group; and a solo performance by acclaimed pianist and composer Philip Glass, whose music is used extensively by modern dance groups that perform at Jacob’s Pillow.
The gala will also mark the official opening of a dance photography exhibit by famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair) created especially for the Pillow. The evening also features a world premiere by Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch performed by dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program; and the presentation of the fifth annual Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award executive and artistic director Ella Baff to Crystal Pite, choreographer and artistic director of Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM.
The Gala performance is followed by dinner, a live auction, and dancing. The 2011 Gala Honorary co-chairs are Benjamin Millepied, New York City Ballet principal dancer and choreographer of the Oscar-winning film Black Swan, and Mercedes Ellington, veteran Broadway performer and choreographer and granddaughter of jazz legend Duke Ellington. The Gala co-chairs are Jacob’s Pillow Board Member Hunter K. Runnette, Dr. Mark P. VandenBosch, Dan Schulman, and Jennie Kassanoff.
The Season Opening Gala is a benefit event; funds raised support the artistic and educational programs of Jacob’s Pillow, a not-for-profit organization.
For more information on tickets or tables – both of which are still available — contact Gwen Franklin at 413.243.9919 x126.