(BECKET, Mass.) – A twist on contemporary ballet by 3e étage, soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet and jazz-influenced popular dance by Bodytraffic, from Los Angeles, are on tap at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival from Wednesday, July 31, through Sunday, August 4, 2013. Traveling from France, 3e étage will perform the world premiere of Le Pillow Thirteen, a suite of new ballets and beloved favorites commissioned specifically for Jacob’s Pillow, in the Ted Shawn Theatre, while Bodytraffic will perform works choreographed by Israeli-American dancemaker Barak Marshall, Belgian-born Stijn Celis, and Richard Siegal, founder and artistic director of The Bakery.
3e étage is an eleven-person ensemble comprised of some of the most talented ballet performers in the world, many of whom grew up training at the Paris Opera School before joining the Paris Opera Ballet. Through 3e étage, Samuel Murez creates choreography that is both founded in the dancers’ shared classical background and fully embraces his unique proclivities that often stray from the traditional idiom. Tresca Weinstein from Albany Times Union describes 3e étage as “…fresh yet timeless, serious and silly, self-mocking without eschewing emotion and connection.”
Inspired by the buildings and grounds of Jacob’s Pillow, specifically the historic Ted Shawn Theatre, Murez designed Le Pillow Thirteen to offer a unique opportunity for his viewers to witness some of the world’s best classical ballet dancers in a contemporary context. The show consists of two acts, each subdivided by a series of interwoven scenes featuring recurring themes and characters. In the spirit of spontaneity and whimsy, the sections have the potential to be rearranged anew for each show. As the characters flow in and out of the works, they determine how each performance will unfold.
The collection of nine works include Me2, a piece both inspired by and performed to Holocaust survivor Raymond Federman’s original bilingual poem, “Me Too”; Quatre, an all-male quartet, involving fiercely athletic turns and jumps; and Processes of Intricacy, an intimate duet about the creative process. With these popular returning ballets and new premieres set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Niccolò Paganini, among others, 3e étage promises an exciting and inventive evening of superior dancing.
In addition to the six performances, Samuel Murez will discuss his fascinating background and adventures in leading this offshoot of the legendary Paris Opera Ballet in Premier Man of 3e Étage, a free PillowTalk in Blake’s Barn on Friday, August 2 at 5pm. Additionally, 3e étage will answer questions and sign autographs each night after their performances outside of the Ted Shawn Theatre.
Making its Jacob’s Pillow debut, dynamic contemporary dance company Bodytraffic will feature three dances: And at midnight the green bride floated through the village square… (2012) created by Israeli-American dancemaker Barak Marshall, Fragile Dwellings (2011) by Belgian-born choreographer Stijn Celis, and O2Joy (2012) by founder and artistic director of The Bakery, Richard Siegal.
Marshall’s And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square… is a detailed, theatrical, and fast-paced work based in part on a true story of a family who were once neighbors of Marshall’s mother Margalit Oved, an acclaimed choreographer and performer. The family of nine led a life commanded by jealousy and passion, reflected in Marshall’s choreography. Brian Seibert of the New York Times called the work, “a dark comedy in the traditional plight of women in marriage.” The piece blends “folk-contemporary dancing concentrated above the waist in rhythmic gestures of woes and sex…” with a soundtrack comprised heavily of Jewish love songs and hymns from the Yiddish, Ladino and Yemenite traditions. As a guest artist, Oved herself will perform the role of a wise and entertaining grandmother.
An exploration of beauty and human connection, Fragile Dwellings is dedicated to the homeless population of Los Angeles. Celis’ profound choreography, paired with visual artist Erwin Redl’s evocative incandescent light installation, produces a captivating work that critic Debra Levine of ArtsMeme finds “packs a depth of connection and even profundity as its four performers converse on stage with their bodies. What dance is supposed to be.”
Closing the program is O2Joy (2012), a playful piece set to music from American jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller, and The Oscar Peterson Trio. Siegal’s ballet-based and commercial dance infused choreography shows off the strong technique of the dancers as this fun, lighthearted contemporary work exudes the pure joy of movement and music.
Founded in 2007 by Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, Bodytraffic’s mission is to help establish Los Angeles as a major center for contemporary dance. The spirited young company builds its repertory by commissioning work from notable choreographers that vary in both style and design. Bodytraffic not only performs, but provides a range of training opportunities through open company classes, workshops, and a three-week summer program. Additionally, the company stays involved in its community through an outreach program that provides classes and rehearsal access to inner-city schools in Los Angeles.