Ira Glass, Benjamin Millepied, Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon, Martha Graham Dance, NDT2, and LINES at Jacob’s Pillow Summer 2015

Michelle Dorrance and Toshi Reagon in The Blues Project (photo Christopher Duggan)

Michelle Dorrance and Toshi Reagon in The Blues Project (photo Christopher Duggan)

(BECKET, Mass.) – Highlights of summer 2015 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival include “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host,” a special dance and radio stage production starring public radio’s Ira Glass with Monica Bill Barnes; the return of Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT2); Alonzo King LINES Ballet; Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon; and the launch of Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th Anniversary, including a world premiere by eminent choreographer Mats Ek.

Following the critical acclaim and record-breaking attendance of Festival 2014, Jacob’s Pillow 2015 will also feature the U.S. debut of Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart from Germany; the world premiere of American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Daniil Simkin’s INTENSIO; Cuban contemporary ensemble Malpaso Dance Company, performing with GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble.


“Festival 2015 delivers a remarkable range of dance from ballet to tap, music from classical to jazz, brand new works commissioned by the Pillow, and the most astonishing performers in the world,” comments Ella Baff, executive and artistic director of Jacob’s Pillow. “We start the season with Ira Glass’s Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host and the re-opening of the Jacob’s Pillow Archives as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of public access and a major expansion of its home, Blake’s Barn. We end with a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company, a world premiere by Mats Ek, and the up and coming company MADboots Dance. Quite a range indeed.”


Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest-running international dance festival. This season, dance companies from across the U.S. and around the globe travel to Becket, Massachusetts to take part in the 83rd annual Festival. Festival 2015 international companies include Ballet BC and La Otra Orilla from Canada, Nederlands Dans Theater 2 from the Netherlands, Malpaso Dance Company from Cuba, Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart from Germany, and Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang from France. American companies hail from Los Angeles (L.A. Dance Project and BODYTRAFFIC), San Francisco (Alonzo King LINES Ballet), Sarasota, FL (The Sarasota Ballet), and New York City (Martha Graham Dance Company, Liz Gerring Dance, Dorrance Dance, New York Theatre Ballet, and others).

L.A. Dance Project (photo Christian Ganet)

L.A. Dance Project (photo Christian Ganet)

Live music is prevalent throughout the season and will be featured in performances by Jessica Lang Dance, Dorrance Dance, Daniel Ulbricht and Stars of American Ballet, Daniil Simkin’s INTENSIO, La Otra Orilla, and Malpaso Dance Company. Jacob’s Pillow is committed to presenting and commissioning new work; Festival 2015 features many world premiere engagements including Daniil Simkin’s INTENSIO and Martha Graham Dance Company in VED by Mats Ek, plus premiere works by La Otra Orilla and Ricardo Graziano of The Sarasota Ballet. Many Festival 2015 artists have developed work during Creative Development Residencies at Jacob’s Pillow, including Jessica Lang, Michelle Dorrance, Annie-B Parson, and Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz of MADboots Dance.

The artist faculty members of The School at Jacob’s Pillow are equally international and diversely experienced. The 2015 Program Directors include esteemed ballet luminary Anna-Marie Holmes; Ailey School and Juilliard faculty member Milton Myers; Broadway veteran, choreographer, and director Chet Walker; and New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning choreographer and artistic director Camille A. Brown, with scholar and artist E. Moncell Durden.

The Program Directors will be joined by dance artists, choreographers, and artistic directors from across the globe. The Ballet Program roster includes Ballet BC Artistic Director Emily Molnar; BalletX co-founder and co-Artistic Director Matthew Neenan (who will create a new work on the dancers of the Ballet Program); and Hungarian National Ballet Director, ballet master, and dancer Tamás Solymosi.

Contemporary Program Director Milton Myers brings a celebrated range of guest choreographers including 2013 MacArthur Fellow and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner Kyle Abraham; 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Brian Brooks; and Emily Molnar. Myers will also lead a diversely talented faculty, including LeeSaar The Company Artistic Director Saar Harari; former Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Hamburg Ballet soloist Peter Brandenhoff; former choreographer for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Pamela Pribisco; 2007 Princess Grace Award recipient Meredith Webster; and Juilliard School faculty member Alphonse Poulin.  Additional faculty will be announced in the spring.

Darren Devaney OF Ballet BC (photo Michael Slobodian)

Darren Devaney OF Ballet BC (photo Michael Slobodian)

A major expansion of Blake’s Barn, home of the Jacob’s Pillow Archives, will be completed by June of 2015, adding more than 700 square feet to the Reading Room and effectively tripling space for both public access and climate-controlled storage. The expansion coincides with the 20th anniversary of public access to the Archives, which houses one of the most significant collections on the dance field, including books, letters, costumes, photographs, and films from as early as 1894 through the Pillow’s most recent Festival.

On average, 22,000 visitors attend talks and exhibitions in Blake’s Barn each summer, and additional visits by scholars, artists, and the general public take place throughout the year. The new Reading Room will feature additional space for the extensive dance library and new visitor reading areas, additional HD video viewing stations, and a dedicated area for small groups to gather for communal video viewing. The lower floor of Blake’s Barn will increase by 1,200 square feet to accommodate additional archival storage and documentation workspace. Jacob’s Pillow will celebrate the re-opening of Blake’s Barn with a ribbon cutting and other festivities on June 23.




Prior to the Festival, Jacob’s Pillow and MASS MoCA will present Keigwin + Company at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center, April 11 and 12. Witty, fun, and provocative, choreographer Larry Keigwin’s dances merge high art with pure entertainment. This program includes Waterfront, inspired by the drama of Leonard Bernstein’s score for On the Waterfront; the vigorous, precise dance Triptych; and Panic, Larry Keigwin’s first new solo in 10 years. Tickets available at MASS MoCA.





Artist dates and descriptions follow. Select Festival artist descriptions include links to supplemental video clips within Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, featuring past Jacob’s Pillow performances.


Ira Glass with Monica Bill Barnes (photo David Bazemore)

Ira Glass with Monica Bill Barnes (photo David Bazemore)

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, June 13 and 14, Ted Shawn Theatre

The venerable Ira Glass, host of public radio’s This American Life, hosts this new stage production which will appear at Jacob’s Pillow for two special pre-Festival performances.  Glass is joined by dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass of contemporary dance ensemble Monica Bill Barnes & Company in a show that combines two art forms that — as Glass puts it — “have no business being together – dance and radio.”  The result is a funny, lively, completely unique evening of dance and storytelling.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Monica Bill Barnes in 2010

PillowTalk with Monica Bill Barnes



Season Opening Gala, June 20, Ted Shawn Theatre

The exclusive Gala performance will include American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Daniil Simkin, the dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program in a world premiere by BalletX co-founder and co-Artistic Director Matthew Neenan, and additional performers to be announced. This signature fundraising event also includes the presentation of the 2015 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, dinner by The Old Inn on the Green, a live auction, and dancing.


Ballet BC, June 24-28, Ted Shawn Theatre

From Vancouver, Canada, Artistic Director Emily Molnar and the dynamic dancers of Ballet BC work with top contemporary choreographers from across the globe. They open the Festival with William Forsythe’s intricate Work Within Work; Cayetano Soto’s Twenty Eight Thousand Waves with music by David Lang and Bryce Dessner; and the U.S. premiere of Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s interpretation of The Rite of Spring, with the iconic score by Igor Stravinsky.


New York Theatre Ballet in Cinderella, June 24-28, Doris Duke Theatre

New York Theatre Ballet opens the Doris Duke Theatre season with Donald Mahler’s popular version of the classic story ballet, Cinderella. Cinderella is a treat for all ages, with skilled dancers, beloved Sergei Prokofiev music, and imaginative costumes and sets. $10 youth tickets are available for every family-friendly performance.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: New York Theatre Ballet in 2007



Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely in The Blues Project, July 1-5, Ted Shawn Theatre

Following two sold-out engagements in 2013 and 2014, tap star and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance return with The Blues Project. The Blues Project premiered in the Doris Duke Theatre in 2013; for the 2015 season the production will move to the larger Ted Shawn Theatre. The Blues Project cast includes co-choreographers and soloists Derick K. Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and the production features music composed by renowned singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, performed live by Reagon and her band BIGLovely.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Dorrance Dance in 2013

BODYTRAFFIC, July 1-5, Doris Duke Theatre

Based in Los Angeles, BODYTRAFFIC was founded in 2007 by dancers and co-directors Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett. Following its 2013 Pillow debut, the company returns to the Festival with a program featuring the dramatic, gripping work Dust by Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter; Once again, before you go by Victor Quijada of RUBBERBANDance Group; and The New 45, a jazzy duet by Richard Siegal.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: BODYTRAFFIC in 2013



Nederlands Dans Theater 2 in 'I New Then' (photo Daisy Komen)

Nederlands Dans Theater 2 in ‘I New Then’ (photo Daisy Komen)

Nederlands Dans Theater 2, July 8-12, Ted Shawn Theatre

Returning to Jacob’s Pillow for the first time since 2007, NDT2 is the outstandingly talented second company of Nederlands Dans Theater. This powerful contemporary program includes new works by prolific Spanish-British choreographic duo Sol León and Paul Lightfoot and the dance I New Then, by Swedish dancemaker Johan Inger, bursting with youthful exuberance and danced to songs by Van Morrison. Additional works to be announced.






Big Dance Theater in Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Triple Feature, July 8-12, Doris Duke Theatre

In 2007, Big Dance Theater co-directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar were the inaugural recipients of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, given to visionary dancemakers. Their work consistently defies boundaries, marrying movement, theater, spoken word, music, and brilliant scenic design. In Big Dance Theater’s latest work Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Triple Feature the company samples creative content from iconic films and novels including Doctor Zhivago, the film Terms of Endearment, and the 1970 French thriller Le Cercle Rouge, creating new worlds of unexpected meaning through seemingly paradoxical connections.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Big Dance Theater in 2011




Alonzo King LINES Ballet, July 15-19, Ted Shawn Theatre

Artistic Director Alonzo King is a ballet visionary and his San Francisco- based company astonishes with classical elegance and bold new ideas. The Pillow program features King’s newest ballets, including the East Coast premiere of a collaboration with famed natural soundscape artist Dr. Bernie Krause, author of The Great Animal Orchestra, and composer Richard Blackford. Additional works to be announced.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Alonzo King LINES Ballet in 2008



Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez in 'Monchichi' (photo Nika Kramer)

Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez in ‘Monchichi’ (photo Nika Kramer)

Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang in Monchichi, July 15-19, Doris Duke Theatre

Sébastien Ramirez is a French dancer of Spanish origin who started out as a virtuosic b-boy. Honji Wang is a German dancer of Korean descent, with a rich background in ballet, contemporary, and urban dance styles. This outstanding dance duo, now based in France, questions interculturality within a couple in Monchichi, a touching, theatrical show that combines hip-hop, contemporary dance, and unique set design.




Daniil Simkin’s INTENSIO, July 22-26, Ted Shawn Theatre

In this much-anticipated world premiere and Jacob’s Pillow co-commission, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Daniil Simkin is joined by fellow dancers of ABT Isabella Boylston, Alexandre Hammoudi, Blaine Hoven, Hee Seo, Calvin Royal III, and James Whiteside, plus special guest Céline Cassone of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. In INTENSIO, they perform four innovative world premieres by international choreographers: Nederlands Dans Theater 2 associate choreographer Alexander Ekman of Sweden, American dancemaker Gregory Dolbashian, resident Boston Ballet choreographer Jorma Elo of Finland, and Colombo-Belgian artist Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, currently based in Amsterdam. INTENSIO is a JOYCE PRODUCTIONS project.




Rosario Guerra and Eric Gauthier of Gauthier Dance // Dance Company Theaterhaus (photo Regina Brocke)

Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart, July 22-26, Doris Duke Theatre

From Stuttgart, Germany in its U.S. debut, Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart presents an energetic program of original and entertaining dances. The program includes the bravura male trio PACOPEPEPLUTO by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, Alexander Ekman’s clever duet Two Become Three, the humorously instructive solo Ballet 101 by Artistic Director Eric Gauthier, and other dances.



Daniel Ulbricht & Stars of American Ballet, July 29-August 2, Ted Shawn Theatre

Following last season’s BALLET 2014 engagement, Jacob’s Pillow audiences were clamoring for the return of New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht and fellow dancers. He’s back — with an all-new program, live music, and a brilliant cast of principals and soloists from New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Houston Ballet. The program includes work In the Night by legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins, Distractions by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, Les Lutins by Johan Kobborg, and Sons by Stanton Welch.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Daniel Ulbricht in 2014

Jessica Lang Dance in The Wanderer, July 29 – August 9, Doris Duke Theatre

Prolific choreographer and recent New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award winner Jessica Lang returns for a two-week run of a new evening-length ballet. The sweeping, romantic contemporary story ballet The Wanderer was created in part during a Creative Development Residency at the Pillow. The ballet is set to Franz Schubert’s famous song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, which will be performed live at the Festival. With a striking, interactive set designed by Mimi Lien, costumes by fashion designer and former Mark Morris Dance Group company member Bradon McDonald, and lighting by Nicole Pearce, The Wanderer is a feast for the senses.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Jessica Lang in 2012



Malpaso Dance Company with Arturo O’Farrill and Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, August 5-9, Ted Shawn Theatre

From Havana, Cuba, contemporary dance ensemble Malpaso Dance Company delivers power, passion, and spotless technique in two new works.  Despedida, choreographed by Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, is a new work for ten dancers with an original score composed by pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill and performed live at the Pillow by GRAMMY Award winners O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble is the resident ensemble of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, founded by O’Farrill to preserve and promote Afro Latin Jazz through performance, education, recordings and cultural diplomacy. Despedida takes inspiration from the eponymous poem by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. The second work on the program, co-commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow and The Joyce Theater, will be created by ever-popular contemporary ballet choreographer Trey McIntyre, whose dance ensemble Trey McIntyre Project gave its final performances at the Pillow last season.


The Sarasota Ballet, August 12-16, Ted Shawn Theatre

The Sarasota Ballet, directed by Iain Webb, is acclaimed for their vitality, versatility, and elegance. At the Pillow, this top ballet company performs Sir Frederick Ashton’s iconic, artful trios Monotones I and Monotones II, Christopher Wheeldon’s fluid, joyous The American set to the Dvo?ák music of the same name, and a world premiere by Brazilian resident choreographer and company member Ricardo Graziano.

La Otra Orilla, August 12-16, Doris Duke Theatre

From Montréal, Canada, La Otra Orilla embodies a deep mastery of traditional flamenco dance and the music of Andalusia, married with a contemporary twist. Following a Pillow debut in 2013, the elegant, powerful dancer Myriam Allard returns with equally talented flamenco artist Aurélie Brunelle, soul-stirring vocalist Hedi Graja, and a cast of multi-talented vocalists, guitarists, and percussionists. They present a world premiere full of flamenco and contemporary dance, multimedia and video effects, and fantastic live music.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: La Otra Orilla in 2013

L.A. Dance Project (photo Christian Ganet)

L.A. Dance Project (photo Christian Ganet)

L.A. Dance Project, August 19-22, Ted Shawn Theatre

Benjamin Millepied, former New York City Ballet principal dancer, choreographer for the film Black Swan, and new director of the Paris Opera Ballet, founded L.A. Dance Project in 2012. In their Pillow debut, these impressively daring, classically trained dancers perform Murder Ballades by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, Millepied’s new ballet Hearts and Arrows, and the U.S. premiere of Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf’s II Acts for the Blind.



Liz Gerring Dance in 'glacier' (photo Julieta Cervantes)

Liz Gerring Dance in ‘glacier’ (photo Julieta Cervantes)

Liz Gerring Dance in glacier, August 19-23, Doris Duke Theatre

Liz Gerring’s evening-length contemporary dance is rich with beautiful and intriguing contradictions of elegance, athleticism, serenity, and passion. Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic of The New York Times describes glacier as “wit without quirkiness, passion without emotionalism: its moods change like the weather, and its ebbs and flows carry aspects of poetry and excitement.” The 65-minute work features set design by Robert Wierzel and is danced to an original score by Liz Gerring Dance resident composer Michael J. Schumacher, whose piece “Glacier” originated during a summer stay near Colorado’s Glacier Lake.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Liz Gerring Dance in 2012

Martha Graham Dance Company, August 26-30, Ted Shawn Theatre

The legendary modern dance company launches its 90th Anniversary at the Pillow, celebrating a pioneering past and trail-blazing future. The program includes Martha Graham’s classic Embattled Garden; Echo by Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis; and Lamentation Variations, a trio of dances inspired by Graham’s iconic solo Lamentation. A highlight of the company’s Pillow program is the momentous world premiere of VED, by the eminent Swedish choreographer Mats Ek.

Related video in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive: Martha Graham Dance Company in 1994



MADboots Dance, August 26-30, Doris Duke Theatre

MADboots Dance was founded in 2011 by co-directors, choreographers, and recent graduates Austin Diaz (NYU Tisch School of the Arts) and Jonathan Campbell (The Juilliard School). This young company of male dancers has fresh ideas about modern masculinity and creates original works that are athletic, powerful, and tender. The New York Times takes note of their “sharp, elegant movements, dark theatricality and unashamed intimacy.”  Their program will include work created during a February Creative Development Residency at Jacob’s Pillow.


Tickets for Festival 2015 go on sale to members starting January 12, 2015 and single tickets go on sale to the public April 1.



Jacob’s Pillow Year Round

Jacob’s Pillow is an active year-round institution. Through Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®, a nationally-recognized program, Artist Educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12 to transform curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. 2014-2015 Curriculum in Motion® residencies will take place at Conte Community School, Becket Washington Elementary, and Monument Mountain Regional High School. Creative Development Residencies take place at the Pillow throughout the year. Dance artists are invited to live and work at Jacob’s Pillow for one to three-week residencies and during that time they are given housing and unlimited access to rehearsal space, the Archives, and staff support. In October of 2014, choreographer Jessica Lang and her company utilized a two-week residency to create her new ballet The Wanderer. In 2015, Gallim Dance, Joanna Kotze, MADboots Dance, and Bryan Arias will create new work at the Pillow during Creative Development Residencies.


Virtual Pillow, the Pillow’s collection of videos, social networks, and digital dance resources, remains active every day of the year. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive includes Festival artists and video content from the 1930s to 2014 and new content is added each month. The Jacob’s Pillow Intern Program is also active year-round, offering hands-on work experience to college students and recent graduates seeking a deeper education within arts administration and production. At the same time, The School at Jacob’s Pillow is hosting international auditions and workshops (most recently in Serbia) and planning its national audition tour, which will kick off in January in Miami. The School at Jacob’s Pillow is a leading center for professional advancement; each year thousands of dancers audition and apply and only 100 are selected to participate in one of four programs in Ballet, Contemporary, Cultural Traditions, and Musical Theatre Dance. The international students of The School are immersed in Festival life as they take class, attend seminars, and learn classic and new dance work from today’s greatest choreographers, mentors, directors, musicians, and Broadway performers.


Jacob’s Pillow, celebrating its 83rd Festival in 2015, is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest-running international dance festival. Each Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 350 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, exhibits, and events. The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S., encompasses the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre Dance, as well as an Intern Program in various disciplines of arts administration, design, video, and production. The Pillow’s extensive Archives, open year-round to the public, chronicle more than a century of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and videos. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and an extensive schedule of free public events. Through Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®, a nationally-recognized program, Artist Educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12, transforming curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; choreography commissions; and the annual $25,000 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award all support visionary dance artists and choreographers. Virtual Pillow is aimed at expanding global audiences for dance and offers the opportunity to experience dance and Jacob’s Pillow from anywhere in the world via online interactive exhibits, global video networks, and social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1936 to today. On March 2, 2011, President Obama honored Jacob’s Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government, making the Pillow the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award.


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