(BECKET, Mass.) – A tap dance extravaganza curated by MacArthur “Genius” Michelle Dorrance, a new site-specific work by Pilobolus, a collaboration between modern dance artist John Heginbotham and acclaimed author and illustrator Maira Kalman, the return of Paul Taylor and Trisha Brown, and programs by Israeli, Cuban, Japanese, and Canadian artists, are some of the highlights of the 2017 season at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Running June 21 through August 27, Festival 2017 is the first season programmed by Jacob’s Pillow director Pamela Tatge, who joined the organization in April 2016.
Highlights of the 85th Anniversary Season include the Pillow-exclusive engagement “TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience Curated by Michelle Dorrance,” with artists Reona and Takishi Seo of Japan, Jumaane Taylor of Chicago, Joe Orrach of San Francisco, and Joseph and Josette Wiggan of Los Angeles; a new site-specific work by Pilobolus Dance Theater commissioned for the outdoor Inside/Out stage; the world premiere of “The Principles of Uncertainty,” a collaboration between modern dance artist John Heginbotham and acclaimed author and illustrator Maira Kalman; the U.S. debut of Israeli dance company Roy Assaf Dance; and rare U.S. appearances by Compagnie Marie Chouinard of Canada and Compañía Irene Rodríguez of Cuba, whose program will also include a world premiere. Eleven companies with female artistic directors are represented amongst the Festival 2017 artists, more than half of the Pillow’s programmed season in the Ted Shawn and Doris Duke Theatres. Festival 2017 includes five companies making their Jacob’s Pillow debut.
Tickets go on sale to the public April 3, online at 12:01am and via phone at 10am (413.243.0745); Jacob’s Pillow Members can order as early as January 17.
Festival 2017 international companies include Israel-based Roy Assaf Dance; Japan-based Reona and Takishi Seo of Dorrance’s TIRELESS; Compagnie Marie Chouinard of Canada; Aakash Odedra of the U.K.; and Compañía Irene Rodríguez of Cuba.
American companies hail from Miami (Miami City Ballet); Washington DC (The Washington Ballet); Portland, Ore. (NW Dance Project); Los Angeles (Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY); San Francisco (Joe Orrach of TIRELESS); and New York City (Paul Taylor Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, Doug Varone & Dancers, Trisha Brown Dance Company, and others).
Live musical accompaniment will also be featured in nearly half of all engagements including Dorrance’s TIRELESS, Jessica Lang Dance, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Camille A. Brown’s BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, the Washington Ballet, Compañía Irene Rodríguez, and the Heginbotham/Kalman collaboration “The Principles of Uncertainty,” among others.
The Pillow continues its decades-long commitment to presenting, commissioning, and supporting the creation of new work. Compañía Irene Rodríguez’s program will feature a world premiere work, in addition to the Pillow-commissioned world premieres by Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Jessica Lang Dance, and Dance Heginbotham, as well as Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s commissioned Línea Recta for Ballet Hispanico. Many Festival 2017 artists have also developed work during Creative Development Residencies at Jacob’s Pillow, including John Heginbotham, Mark Dendy, Camille A. Brown, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Kyle Abraham, Michelle Dorrance, and Jessica Lang.
The 85th Anniversary Season offers a range of special engagements taking place outside of the Pillow’s traditional theater spaces. Two works will be created in conversation with its iconic natural setting, including the aforementioned Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s commissioned world premiere, kicking off the outdoor Inside/Out Performance Series with an extended three-day run, June 21-23. “Pilobolus has always made its work in a rural environment, often looking to nature as a guiding reference for its imagination, which makes this commission a fitting way to commemorate the history of Pilobolus at the Pillow on the occasion of the 85th Anniversary,” says Pilobolus executive producer Itamar Kubovy. Japanese artist Eiko Otake’s site-specific “A Body at the Pillow” will take place across the grounds with three performances on Saturday, July 22.
Jacob’s Pillow will continue expanding its presence in the Berkshires community throughout the Festival season and beyond. The Pillow will host free performances at each Third Thursday event in Pittsfield, Mass., throughout the summer (Eiko Otake will perform at the July 20 event). Select Festival artists will also deepen their impact on the community by offering special artist residency activities to be announced. Michelle Dorrance will host a dynamic new event benefitting the Pillow’s growing Community Engagement Programs — an All Styles Dance Battle in the Doris Duke Theatre with Festival artists, participants of The School, and New England-based street artists, Sunday, July 2, at 8pm.
The artist faculty members of The School at Jacob’s Pillow are as impressive and diversely experienced as the Festival artists. The 2017 Program Directors include ballet luminary Anna-Marie Holmes; noted master teacher Milton Myers; Broadway choreographer/director Chet Walker; and choreographer, performer, MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Michelle Dorrance.
Prior to the Festival, Jacob’s Pillow and MASS MoCA will co-present the work-in-progress “XXYY” by choreographer, dancer, and director Richard Move in collaboration with theater artist Alba Clemente and visual artist Paolo Canevari on January 20. This spring, visual and performing arts collide in Nick Cave’s expansive and awe-inspiring installation “Until.” Two choreographers present solo works in response to the exhibition: iconic Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner Bill T. Jones (March 4) and writer, actress, and Bessie Award recipient Okwui Okpokwasili (April 7). Tickets available at MASS MoCA.
Festival 2017 Schedule
Season Opening Gala
June 17, Ted Shawn Theatre
The exclusive Season Opening Gala event will include a special performance by Festival 2017 artist Miami City Ballet, a work-in-progress showing of a new work with New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns in collaboration with international hip-hop duo Company Wang Ramirez, and the dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program in a world premiere created by acclaimed choreographer Bruce Wells. This signature fundraising event also includes the presentation of the 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, the opening of a new Blake’s Barn exhibit, special pop-up performances, and a festive auction, followed by dinner and dancing to live music.
Miami City Ballet
June 21-25, Ted Shawn Theatre
Described as “bold, light, immediate, intensely musical” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), Miami City Ballet opens the 85th Anniversary Season in its first Festival appearance since 1998. Works on the program exhibit the company’s wide range and prowess, including master choreographer George Balanchine’s challenging and technically precise Allegro Brillante set to Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s energetic “Third Piano Concerto No. 3”. The program also includes Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s elegant Polyphonia, danced to György Ligeti’s complex and eerily melodious score. Other works to be announced.
Jonah Bokaer Choreography
June 21-25, Doris Duke Theatre
Hailed as “a visionary investigator who has redefined visual art and dance” (Vogue Italia), choreographer, artist, and alumnus of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Jonah Bokaer brings his sleek, elegant aesthetic to the Doris Duke Theatre. His largest production to date Rules Of The Game (2016) is set to an original score by GRAMMY Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, co-composed by David Campbell, with set design by visual artist and frequent collaborator Daniel Arsham. The program will also include Bokaer’s solo Study for Occupant (2012), and the trio work OCCUPANT (2013).
Pilobolus Dance Theater
Inside/Out Performance Series, June 21-23
Harnessing the power of the Pillow’s pastoral setting, internationally acclaimed dance company Pilobolus Dance Theatre will premiere a new work commissioned specifically for the Pillow’s iconic outdoor stage set against the Berkshire hills. Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times praises Pilobolus’s consistent, unique, and powerful aesthetic: “bodies become imagery, and one image merges into another, organically, poetically, inexplicably.” The world premiere will kick off the Festival’s free Inside/Out Performance Series with an extended three-day run.
TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience Curated by Michelle Dorrance
Ted Shawn Theatre, June 28-July 2
Curated and introduced by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow, and “tireless ambassador of tap” Michelle Dorrance (Gia Kourlas, The New York Times), TIRELESS exhibits the endless talent, depth, and perseverance of the international tap community. This Pillow-exclusive engagement includes tap dancer and bassist couple Reona and Takishi Seo of Japan in AUN; Chicago-based choreographer and performer Jumaane Taylor’s ensemble work Supreme Love; Joe Orrach of San Francisco in his solo performance entitled In My Corner; and tap dancing siblings Joseph and Josette Wiggan of Los Angeles.
NW Dance Project
Doris Duke Theatre, June 28-July 2
Known for its “cutting-edge contemporary work” (Jacob Vondersmith, The Portland Tribune), NW Dance Project makes its Jacob’s Pillow debut. Based in Portland, Oregon and led by former Royal Winnipeg Ballet principal dancer Sarah Slipper, the company is composed of a cast of classically-trained, versatile dancers. The program includes works by a range of accomplished choreographers and rising talents: Post-Traumatic-Monster by Felix Landerer, choreographer in residence for Scapino Ballet in the Netherlands; At Some Hour You Return by former Nederlands Dans Theater dancer Ji?í Pokorný; Le Fil Rouge by 2011 Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest winner Ihsan Rustem; and MemoryHouse by Artistic Director Sarah Slipper.
All Styles Dance Battle
Doris Duke Theatre, July 2 at 8pm
Beloved performer, choreographer, Festival artist, and Tap Program director Michelle Dorrance hosts an All Styles Dance Battle with exciting Festival artists, the talented participants of the Tap Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and New England-based street artists in the Doris Duke Theatre. This event is a benefit for the Jacob’s Pillow Community Engagement Programs.
Jessica Lang Dance
Ted Shawn Theatre, July 5-9
“A prolific choreographer of skillfully constructed dances that respectfully mesh with music and striking visual design” (The New Yorker), Jessica Lang and her company return to Jacob’s Pillow with a program set to live music. In addition to a Pillow-commissioned world premiere work, the program includes Lang’s Thousand Yard Stare, a work embodying the incredible pride and honor as well as the searing loss experienced by military veterans, set to emotive Beethoven music. The program will also include the east coast premiere of Lang’s Lyric Pieces set to Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg’s short piano pieces with striking set design by Molo Designers Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen.
Doris Duke Theatre, July 5-9
New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning choreographer Faye Driscoll is an alumna of The School at Jacob’s Pillow and “one of the most original talents on the contemporary dance scene” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times). Her ensemble work Thank You for Coming: Attendance is the first installment of a trilogy which softens the borders between artist and audience, making for an “unpredictable, funny, and endlessly entertaining” experience (Laura Molzahn, The Chicago Tribune). Performed in the round with an intimate number of audience members, Driscoll’s work is rich, surprising, and deeply human.
Paul Taylor Dance Company
Ted Shawn Theatre, July 12-16
Often lauded for its “youth, vitality, good cheer and a sense of adventure” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post), Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to the Pillow for a special 85th Anniversary Season engagement. Led by the vision of renowned modern dance choreographer Paul Taylor, the company is a Berkshires audience favorite with their Pillow debut in 1964 and annual performances at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in nearby Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The company’s program will feature a roster of classic works, including the exuberant and romantic Esplanade, set to two Johann Sebastian Bach concertos. Other works to be announced.
Roy Assaf Dance
Doris Duke Theatre, July 12-16
Based in Israel, Roy Assaf Dance makes its U.S. debut in a program of clever and heartfelt works. A rising choreographic star, Assaf has been commissioned by companies across the globe including Batsheva Dance Company, The Royal Swedish Ballet, National Dance Company Wales, and LA Dance Project. The program opens with Assaf’s quiet, embracing duet Six Years Later which is praised for its “beauty, nuances, and intricate, astute movements” (Ora Brafman, Jerusalem Post), and closes with his powerful all-male trio The Hill, inspired by veterans’ experiences and based on the Hebrew song “Givat Hatachmoshet”.
Compagnie Marie Chouinard
Ted Shawn Theatre, July 19-July 23
Marie Chouinard of Montréal, Canada is a world-renowned “hurricane of unbridled imaginativeness” (The New York Times). Her company makes its Jacob’s Pillow debut with original and daring works honoring two French artists: the dynamic 24 Preludes by Chopin set to 24 contrasting piano works by Frédéric Chopin, dubbed one of Chouinard’s “most refreshingly inventive works” (Michael Crabb, The National Post); and Henri Michaux: Mouvements, inspired by the artist’s book of poems and ink drawings, bridges visual and performance arts.
Aakash Odedra in Rising
Doris Duke Theatre, July 19-23
“Simply breathtaking” (Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail) British artist Aakash Odedra makes his Pillow debut with his captivating solo work Rising. A contemporary dancer with roots in the classical Indian dance styles of Kathak and Bharatnatyam, Odedra is known for his mesmerizing agility and “ecstatic joy in dancing” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times). His Rising features his own choreography and contributions from acclaimed international artists: British choreographer Akram Khan, recipient of the International Society of the Performing Arts Distinguished Artist Award; 2014 Laurence Olivier Award recipient Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui of Belgium; and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant of the U.K.
Eiko Otake’s A Body at the Pillow
Jacob’s Pillow Grounds | July 22
In an exclusive one-day-only engagement, Japanese-born artist Eiko Otake will perform A Body at the Pillow, a site-specific solo performance on the historic grounds of Jacob’s Pillow. The work is the newest installment of Eiko’s A Body in Places series, which includes performances in train stations, warehouses, and libraries, as well as the irradiated Fukushima, Japan. Praised for her “unassailable intensity,” Eiko is able to “radiate both frailty and abandon” in her performances (Gia Kourlas, The New York Times).
Ted Shawn Theatre, July 26-30
Brimming with theatricality and crisp technique, “the versatile Ballet Hispanico dancers are exquisite” (Rebecca Ritzel, The Washington Post). The company offers the thrilling diversity of Latino culture—a fusion of classical, Latin, and contemporary dance. The program features the Pillow-commissioned and flamenco-inspired Línea Recta by Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, set to Spanish guitar by Eric Vaarzon Morel. Other works to be announced.
Doris Duke Theatre, July 26-30
Led by “choreography’s It girl” (Victoria Looseleaf, The Los Angeles Times) Danielle Agami, the Los Angeles-based Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY brings the mesmerizing intensity of Gaga movement to the intimate Doris Duke Theatre. A former company member and rehearsal director of Ohad Naharin’s world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company, the work of Israeli-born Agami is athletic, direct, and intelligent. Her ensemble work Exhibit B exposes the challenges the Israeli conflict brings to daily life, and is set to Omid Walizadeh’s hip-hop and Iranian music score. Other works to be announced.
Doug Varone & Dancers
Ted Shawn Theatre, August 2-6
Praised for its “sheer kinetic force and profound emotional insight” (Suzanne Carbonneau, The Washington Post), modern dance company Doug Varone & Dancers delivers its expansive vision, versatility, and technical prowess. Celebrating the company’s 30th Anniversary this year, the program features ReComposed, inspired by expressionist painter Joan Mitchell’s swirling pastels, set to acclaimed composer Michael Gordon’s tremendous orchestral score Dystopia, among other works to be announced.
Doris Duke Theatre, August 2-6
MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner Kyle Abraham is “a remarkable talent” (Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Chronicle). He returns to the Pillow with his newest work Dearest Home, a lush collection of solos and duets that embody love and longing, born from dialogues with a diverse set of subcultures. Dearest Home is an interactive dance performance that explores cultural views and exchanges about love and the absence of love.
Camille A. Brown & Dancers
Ted Shawn Theatre, August 9-13
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Camille A. Brown and her company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, will present her evening-length New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-nominated work BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, which reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black female in urban American culture. This vividly theatrical work performed to live music explores childhood innocence and the maturation of the Black female through “a common language formed from play, musicality, and empathy” (Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Time Out New York).
Mark Dendy Project’s Elvis Everywhere
Doris Duke Theatre, August 9-13
Applauded for its “speed, force, brilliance and surprise” (Alan M. Kriegsman, The Washington Post), Mark Dendy’s work is known for its searing social and political commentary and intense physicality. Inspired by an interview with Donald Rumsfeld on his encounter with Elvis Presley in Las Vegas, Dendy’s Elvis Everywhere scrutinizes society’s fascination and obsession with celebrity. Dendy utilizes the arc of Elvis’s life as a metaphor for the United States, drawing chilling parallels to today’s politics. Elvis Everywhere is supported by the Jacob’s Pillow Creative Development Residency program.
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Ted Shawn Theatre, August 16-20
Witty, inventive, and free from convention, the prolific choreographer Trisha Brown holds an uncontested legacy as modern dance’s “boundary-pusher” (Andy Battaglia, The Wall Street Journal). With close Pillow connections dating back more than 35 years, Brown’s accolades include the prestigious National Medal of Arts, a Dance/USA Honors Award, a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award, a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award for Lifetime Achievement, and countless others. The program will include a specially curated work for the Pillow’s 85th Anniversary Season featuring alumni of Trisha Brown Company, among other works to be announced.
Compañía Irene Rodríguez
Doris Duke Theatre, August 16-20
A principal dancer and choreographer, Irene Rodríguez is an “intense, exacting” (Siobhan Burke, The New York Times) performer and one of the most prominent figures in Cuban dance. Among many other accolades, Rodríguez received First Prize in the Ibero-American Choreography Competition “Alicia Alonso” CIC’ 2012. Alongside her six talented dancers and an ensemble of live, onstage musicians, Rodríguez brings flamenco’s fiery passion and exhilarating footwork with a unique Afro-Cuban flair, leaving a “trail of triumph and applause” (Granma, Cuba). The program will include a world premiere work and a U.S. premiere.
The Washington Ballet
Ted Shawn Theatre, August 23-27
Newly led by former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Julie Kent, the Washington, DC-based company presents stunning technique, impressive range, and iconic contemporary works heralding the group’s “elegant new era” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post). The company makes its first appearance at the Pillow since 1980 with Alexei Ratmansky’s spellbinding Seven Sonatas, among other works to be announced.
The Principles of Uncertainty
Doris Duke Theatre, August 23-27
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient John Heginbotham and acclaimed illustrator and author Maria Kalman join forces in the world premiere of The Principles of Uncertainty. Co-commissioned by the Pillow and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and developed during multiple Pillow Creative Development Residencies, The Principles of Uncertainty is an evening-length dance theatre work choreographed and directed by Heginbotham, inspired by the existing and developing written and visual art of Kalman, set to an original score composed by Brooklyn Rider and Silk Road Ensemble’s Colin Jacobsen. The Knights, Jacobsen’s innovative chamber orchestra, will perform live.
The Dog Dance
The Great Lawn, August 26
This participatory event for fleet-footed canines and their dance-loving companions will be led by Elizabeth Johnson, Associate Artist of Dance Exchange and an Artist Educator for the Pillow’s Curriculum in Motion program. Free, with a suggested donation to the Berkshire Humane Society.
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