(BECKET, Mass.) – Broadway stars including Trent Kowalik (Billy Elliot), Dana Moore (Fosse), and Andy Gale (Les Miserables) will lend their voices and dance moves to the fifth annual A Jazz Happening in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival on Sunday, August 21 at 8pm. This one-night-only benefit event, which celebrates the enduring style of jazz and musical theater dance as participants from The School’s Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program perform alongside these and other guest Broadway stars, will feature new choreography and original music alongside favorite numbers including “Crazy Rhythm” and “Nowadays” (Chicago); “Too Darn Hot” (Kiss Me Kate); “Glory” and the “Mansion Trio” (Pippin); “The Crapshooter’s Ballet” (Guys and Dolls); and “Being Alive” (Company).
All proceeds from this event support The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the United States.
This year’s 24 Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program participants hail from Argentina, Japan, Norway, France, Italy, and Sweden with current artistic affiliations ranging from The Royal Swedish Ballet School and Bårdar Akademiet, to New York University Tisch School of the Arts and Steps on Broadway. A Jazz Happening is the culmination of three weeks of rigorous dance and vocal training under the direction of Program Director Chet Walker, conceiver of the Tony Award-winning hit Fosse.
A Jazz Happening guest performers to date include Trent Kowalik (Billy Elliot), Dana Moore (Fosse), and Andy Gale (Les Miserables). Trent Kowalik is famous for his lead role as Billy in Billy Elliot: The Musical in London and opening night on Broadway. In 2009, at age fourteen, Kowalik received a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, The Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award, The Astaire Award, The Theatre World Award, and the Theater Fans Choice Award. Broadway veteran and longtime faculty member of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, Dana Moore has performed in numerous shows across Broadway and the world, including A Chorus Line (Sheila), The Will Rogers Follies (Z’s Favorite), Sweet Charity (the Ponytail Girl), Singin’ in the Rain, Fosse, and Dangerous Games. Andy Gale, an original cast member of the first national tour of Les Miserables, has performed in the international tour of The Secret Garden, the national tour of CATS, and on Broadway in Rags. Gale is also renowned for his work as a director, including staging the Australian premiere of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Talented alumni of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Caleb Teicher and Emanuel Abruzzo are also featured as guest performers. Caleb Teicher is an outstanding tap dancer, choreographer, founding member of Dorrance Dance, and a 2011 Bessie Nominee for Outstanding Individual Performance. Emanuel Abruzzo, Assistant to Program Director Chet Walker, is currently a member of WALKERDANCE and performed at Jacob’s Pillow with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in 2010. He has also performed with Julio Bocca’s Ballet Sub-16, Les Ballets Grandiva, Baardar Danseteater, Cuba Ballet Rosario, and Compañía Internacional de Teatro Musica.
Longtime Broadway performers, choreographers, and directors Bill Hastings, Brad Musgrove, Patricia Wilcox, and Chet Walker have choreographed original numbers for this year’s A Jazz Happening. Bill Hastings is a veteran artist who has appeared in over fifty musicals and plays on Broadway and in national touring productions such as A Chorus Line, and has choreographed for more than forty productions for European, Japanese, and United States venues. Brad Musgrove has appeared in the original casts of three Tony Award-winning shows including The Producers, Fosse, and La Cage aux Folles, as well as in productions of 42nd Street in Paris and Vienna, Cats in Hamburg, and Anything Goes in Berlin. Patricia Wilcox is on faculty at Steps on Broadway, and her choreographic and performance work spans concerts, musicals, plays, television, opera, motion capture, ice dance teams, and the Olympics.
Ric Ryder, Vocal Coach for the Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program, also performs. Ryder has appeared in Grease, The Music Man, and Blood Brothers on Broadway and is an active voice-over talent for TV, radio, and film. A Jazz Happening also features a live jazz band led by Rick Hip-Flores, Music Director for the Program, with drummer Aaron Russell who was the percussionist on the U.S national tours of Broadway musical Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The 2011 A Jazz Happening program is dedicated to Tony Stevens, a choreographer, director, dancer, and Pillow faculty member who recently passed away. A beloved Broadway performer, Steven’s late night recorded talk sessions were used by choreographer and director Michael Bennett to create the Pulitzer Prize-winning phenomenon A Chorus Line. Stevens was a faculty/guest artist choreographer for The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 1999 and 2001, in addition to teaching the master class for The School’s New York City auditions.
This year marks Chet Walker’s twelfth year as Director of The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program and fifth year directing A Jazz Happening. Walker has performed on Broadway since the age of sixteen, appearing most prominently in the Bob Fosse musicals The Pajama Game, Pippin, Dancin’, and Sweet Charity. An international director and choreographer, his nonprofit jazz dance company WALKERDANCE performed at the Pillow in 1999, 2001, and 2004. He conceived the choreographic collaboration The Seven Deadly Sins, which premiered at the Pillow in 2001. This spring, his company participated in a Creative Development Residency at Jacob’s Pillow to work on The Jack Cole Project. Over the past year Walker created La Cage aux Folles in Brazil, Jazz On Jazz in Norway, and Triumph at the Las Vegas Hilton. He also served on the jury for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts YoungArts Week in Miami and Expression ’11 in Florence, Italy, and led residencies at the University of Tulsa and in Houston. Walker has served as a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs in Serbia and Italy.
Proceeds from ticket sales for A Jazz Happening will support programs of The School at Jacob’s Pillow. The School was established in 1934, just one year after the Festival itself, when Ted Shawn began teaching classes with his company of Men Dancers. Shawn’s comprehensive educational approach in creating The School arose from his full embrace of all dance forms and continues to this day, through four professional advancement programs which include Ballet, Contemporary, Cultural Traditions, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance.
The School at Jacob’s Pillow prepares pre-professional and professional dancers for the demands of a dance career. The curriculum offers conservatory-style training led by acclaimed faculty members six days a week. Dancers also prepare work for weekly showings for the Inside/Out performance series every Saturday evening at 6:15pm and special events such as the Season Opening Gala and A Jazz Happening.
The School’s curriculum also includes the opportunity to watch rehearsals and performances of professional dance companies performing at the Festival, attend PillowTalks given by the field’s leading artists, authors, and scholars, and study in the Pillows’ extensive Archives of videos, books, photographs, and other materials. Students learn career-building strategies, performance skills, and the history of their particular field while also deepening their personal artistry. More than 3,500 dancers audition across the U.S. and Europe, with only 100 dancers accepted to The School each year. Over half of these students require and receive scholarships made possible in part by benefit events, such as A Jazz Happening.
Alumni of The School at Jacob’s Pillow include MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winner Meredith Monk; Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Nikolaj Hübbe, who served as a faculty member for the 2008 Ballet Program; and So You Think You Can Dance judge and choreographer Mia Michaels. Alumni are frequently seen performing and choreographing at Jacob’s Pillow, on Broadway, in films, and with leading dance and touring companies worldwide, including American Ballet Theatre, Batsheva, Het Nationale Ballet, Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris Dance Group, Munich Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza, San Francisco Ballet, Twyla Tharp, Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Cirque du Soleil.
Tickets are $75 or $100. $100 tickets include a post-show reception catered by DreamAway Lodge with the evening’s performers. All proceeds benefit The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Tickets now on sale online at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, via phone at 413.243.0745 or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.
Box Office hours: Monday and Tuesday 10am-6pm, Wednesday through Saturday 10am-8pm, and Sunday 11am-5:00pm.
Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member call 413.243.9919 x125.
Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped-accessible.