Jacob’s Pillow Season Finale Pays Tribute to Ella Baff

Ella Baff (photo Christopher Duggan)

Ella Baff (photo Christopher Duggan)

(BECKET, Mass.) – In honor of executive and artistic director Ella Baff’s final season, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival celebrates the close of its 83rd season with a Festival Finale event on Saturday, August 29, 2015. Tickets for the Festival Finale include a performance by the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company in the Ted Shawn Theatre or the young and innovative MADBOOTS DANCE in the Doris Duke Theatre, and access to the after-party where guests can mingle with dancers, pay tribute to Baff, enjoy desserts by local restaurants and bakeries, and dance the night away with DJ BFG in the historic Bakalar Studio.


The legendary Martha Graham Dance Company (MGDC) will kick off its 90th anniversary year in a seven-show engagement at Jacob’s Pillow, August 26-30. Celebrating the company’s pioneering past and trail-blazing reputation, MGDC’s program features a diverse set of works including Graham’s dramatic classic Embattled Garden, the world premiere of AXE by eminent choreographer Mats Ek, the powerful Depak Ine by Nacho Duato, and Echo by Greek choreographer Adonis Foniadakis.


In its 90th year, MGDC exhibits its strength with a program ranging widely in choreographic style and era, both paying homage to its roots as a cornerstone of modern dance and embracing the work of new choreographers
MGDC’s program will include Martha Graham’s classic Embattled Garden (1958), only performed once before at Jacob’s Pillow, at the 2003 Gala. An engaging reimagining of the biblical story of Adam and Eve, the work is set to Carlos Surinach’s Latin-infused score capturing Graham’s signature artistry in “dramatically nuanced” (Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times) and “amusingly seductive” (Victoria Looseleaf, Los Angeles Times) satire. Graham’s artistic collaborator and legendary designer Isamu Noguchi’s beautifully stark setting remains refreshingly contemporary and exhibits a mastery of minimalism.


Created for MGDC by sought-after Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, Depak Ine features Duato’s signature theatricality coupled with the dramatic presence and artistry of the Graham company. Driven by a Darwinian narrative of primordial ritual, the Graham dancers embody the movement with “complete urgency, precision and motivation” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times). A sensational score combining electronic musician John Talabot’s Fin and Serbian composer Arsenije Jvanovic’s Athos-Montana Sacra is complemented by the shadowed lighting of American Ballet Theatre designer Bradley Fields and earthy costumes of Serbian designer Angelina Atlagic. Esteemed dance writer Deborah Jowitt notes that Duato’s technically challenging and powerfully striking work sits well on the dancers, which they embrace “with immense skill and ferocious concentration.”


The program will include a world premiere by prolific Swedish choreographer Mats Ek titled AXE. Originally conceived as a dance film for venerable dancers Ana Laguna and Yvan Auzely, AXE involves a woodsman (Ben Schultz) and his female companion (Peiju Chien-Pott). Called “a master of the updated classics” (Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times), Ek has a proclivity for exploring human relationships through all lenses with a well-crafted, distinctive movement vocabulary. An esteemed choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater and previous Artistic Director of the Cullberg Ballet (founded by his mother, Birgit Cullberg), Ek has been commissioned by prestigious companies including the Paris Opera Ballet and Hamburg Ballet, and received two Emmy Awards for his screen-adapted works.


Set to an entrancing original score by French composer Julien Tarride, Adonis Foniadakis’s Echo enlivens the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus. The dynamic Graham dancers exhibit their versatility in Foniadakis’s rippling and intricately woven movement. The dancers of MGDC are praised for terrific “speed and pliancy” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times) in the work, further proving the company’s wide-ranging capacity. An international presence in dance, Foniadakis has created work for companies across the globe including Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Geneva Ballet, and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal.




August 26-30, Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2:15pm

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 features two world premieres: BEAU., a duet of vibrant ecstasy and self-sabotage, and (SADBOYS) an ensemble work that explores rage, projected emotion, otherness, love, and loss, both created during Creative Development Residencies at Jacob’s Pillow. Tickets $25-$45.



Martha Graham Dance Company

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 26—Saturday, August 29 at 8pm

Thursday, August 27; Saturday, August 29 & Sunday, August 30 at 2pm


  • Festival Finale Saturday, August 29 at 8pm. Tickets $75-$150. Includes a performance by Martha Graham Dance Company, plus the best after-party of the summer. Mingle with the dancers, pay tribute to Ella Baff, enjoy delicious desserts and drinks, and dance the night away with DJ BFG spinning live at the ultimate dance celebration.


  • Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Nancy Wozny are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before every performance.


  • A Post-Show Q&A with members of Martha Graham Dance Company and Scholar-in-Residence Nancy Wozny will take place onstage on Friday, August 28.


  • Tickets $45-$75. Now on sale online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office. A limited number of $19 Under 35 Friday tickets are available for August 28; limit 2 per person, must be between the ages of 18 and 35.


  • Box Office Hours: Sunday through Tuesday, 11am–5pm; Wednesday through Saturday 11am–8pm.


  • 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.


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.



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