Maira Kalman and John Heginbotham Join Forces at Jacob’s Pillow

‘The Principles of Uncertainty’ with Dance Heginbotham and Maira Kalman (photo Adrienne Bryant)

(BECKET, Mass.) – “The Principles of Uncertainty,” a unique collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham and acclaimed illustrator and author Maira Kalman, runs in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow from Wednesday, August 23, through Sunday, August 27. The evening-length dance-theatre work, inspired by Kalman’s written and visual art, is set to a score composed, arranged, and curated by Brooklyn Rider and Silk Road Ensemble’s Colin Jacobsen. Members of the Knights, Jacobsen’s innovative chamber orchestra, will perform live, and Maira Kalman herself is also featured in the performance.

This new work draws inspiration from the highly detailed, intimate worlds created in Kalman’s paintings and illustrations, particularly from her book “The Principles of Uncertainty.” The piece is based on Heginbotham and Kalman’s shared interest in the passage of time and its relation to the seemingly mundane objects and experiences that make up daily life. These ideas and themes are explored through a series of vignettes that are woven through with Heginbotham’s rich choreography and Kalman’s unique design elements including sets, projections, and costuming. An array of eclectic vocabularies – dance, text, music, sets and projections – work in concert as “The Principles of Uncertainty” behaves as a welcoming, non-linear, and occasionally absurd travelogue.

John Heginbotham

“The Principles of Uncertainty is the result of a wish to work with an artist who moves me”, says John Heigenbotham, winner of the 2014 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. “Imagine having privileged access to the mind of someone you admire and you can understand what it’s been like for me to collaborate with the glorious Maira Kalman. This dance, like a lot of Maira’s work, is about the experience of having limited time. The action can play out in a lot of ways. Heartbreak is there, humor and optimism are both there. Pink is there. Dance and music: there and there. Madame Bovary is really there.”

Lighting was created by prolific designer Nicole Pearce, with projection design by creative technologist Todd Bryant. The score was composed, arranged, and curated by violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen, who has collaborated previously with Heginbotham on Chalk and Soot, which premiered at the Pillow in 2014.

Several corresponding events and offerings include a season-long, free exhibit of Kalman’s work in the Doris Duke Theatre lobby; a PillowTalk with Maira Kalman; and a master class with a member of Dance Heginbotham. On Saturday evening, August 26, “The Principles of Uncertainty” performance will be part of the Pillow’s Festival Finale event, which includes a ribbon cutting for the new Perles Family Studio and a post-performance party.


Jacob’s Pillow Connections

John Heginbotham is the recipient of the 2014 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. He first came to the Pillow in 1991 as a student of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, in Bessie Schönberg’s Choreography Workshop. He performed at the Pillow with Rebecca Stenn (1995 and 1998), Susan Marshall and Company (1997 and 1998), and with the Mark Morris Dance Group for 10 seasons. He was also a cast member of the Pillow’s production of The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth in 2012.

Dance Heginbotham performed as part of the 2011 Inside/Out performance series, and again in the Doris Duke Theatre during the 2012 and 2014 Festivals. Heginbotham created another Pillow-commissioned work, Chalk and Soot, during Creative Development Residencies.


John Heginbotham (photo Bud Lammers)

About John Heginbotham

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, John Heginbotham graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993, and was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group from 1998–2012. In 2011, he founded Dance Heginbotham (DH), a performance group devoted to the presentation of his dance and theatrical work. In addition to DH, Heginbotham is active as a freelance choreographer. Recent projects include Daniel Fish’s Bard Summerscape production of Oklahoma! (2015), Angels’ Share for Atlanta Ballet (2014), and Isaac Mizrahi’s Peter and the Wolf for the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process Series (2013), which has become an annual holiday event.

Heginbotham’s growing list of opera commissions include Candide with the Orlando Philharmonic (2016); The Magic Flute at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, directed by Isaac Mizrahi (2014); Handel’s Alceste for the American Classical Orchestra (2014); and Maria de Buenos Aires at the Cork Opera House (2013). In the fall of 2017 he will choreograph the San Francisco Opera production of John Adams’ and Peter Sellars’ new opera Girls of the Golden West.

Heginbotham was a Fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts (2016), and has received two Jerome Robbins Foundation New Essential Works (NEW) Fellowships (2010, 2012). In addition to directing the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, he is on faculty at Darmouth College and is a founding teacher of Dance for PD®, an ongoing collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.



Maira Kalman (with dog)

About Maira Kalman

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised in New York, Maira Kalman is the author and illustrator of 18 children’s books including Fireboat, Looking at Lincoln, and What Pete Ate, as well as five books for adults. Her online columns for The New York Times were compiled into two volumes, The Principles of Uncertainty and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Kalman created an illustrated edition of the classic “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White and Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules.” She is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, including cover art and an upcoming illustrated column based on travels to museums and libraries. Her travel pieces have appeared in Departures, Culture and Travel, and The New York Times, among others. She has created fabric for Isaac Mizrahi and Kate Spade, and sets and costumes for the Mark Morris Dance Group. In 2013, she performed the role of The Duck in Isaac Mizrahi’s production of Peter and the Wolf at The Guggenheim Museum.

Her two most recent books about design, My Favorite Things and Ah-Ha to Zig Zag were published in October 2014 in conjunction with the re-opening of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City for which she curated the exhibit, Maira Kalman: My Favorite Things. She recently published Girls Standing on Lawns (2014) with text by Daniel Handler in conjunction with the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art. Kalman’s latest book, Beloved Dog, was published in October 2015 by Penguin Press.

In 2010, a retrospective of her work entitled Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) originated at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Philadelphia and traveled to a Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. In April 2014, all of the original paintings for The Elements of Style were exhibited together for the first time at the Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville, TN. Through September 2017, she has an exhibit on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum entitled Sara Berman’s Closet. Future book projects include an illustrated edition of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.



About Dance Heginbotham

The mission of Dance Heginbotham (DH) is to move people through dance. DH is a New York-based contemporary dance company committed to supporting, producing and sustaining the work of choreographer John Heginbotham. With an emphasis on collaboration, DH engages with national and international communities with its unique blend of inventive, thoughtful, and rigorous dance theater works. Founded in 2011, DH has quickly established itself as one of the most adventurous and exciting new companies on the contemporary dance scene, and is celebrated for its vibrant athleticism, humor, and theatricality, as well as its commitment to collaboration. DH has shared the stage with music icons including Alarm Will Sound, Brooklyn Rider, Ethan Iverson, Gabriel Kahane and Shara Nova, and in 2016 presented Fantasque, a collaboration with puppeteer Amy Trompetter, commissioned and produced by Bard College’s Summerscape Festival.

DH had its world premiere in January of 2012 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has since been commissioned and presented by Arts Brookfield, Bard College, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carolina Performing Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Joyce Theater, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Vail International Dance Festival, among others. In the spring of 2016, the company toured to Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines as cultural ambassadors of the United States with the DanceMotion USA? program, a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), produced by BAM. DH celebrated its 5th Anniversary in February 2017 with the world premiere of Lola, performed with the world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell, and commissioned by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director, as part of the 2016-2017 season.


Colin Jacobsen )photo Erin Baiano)

About The Knights

The Grammy Award-nominated orchestral collective The Knights are flexible in size and repertory, dedicated to transforming the concert experience. Engaging listeners and defying boundaries with programs that showcase the players’ roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery, The Knights have “become one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products… known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (New Yorker).

The Knights’ 2017 summer season includes a world premiere by Judd Greenstein and an East Coast premiere by Vijay Iyer; returns to Central Park’s Naumberg Concerts, Tanglewood, the Ravinia Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. This fall, The Knights’ embark on their second Home Season in Brooklyn, in partnership with the downtown venue BRIC, presenting family concerts and evening performances. Next is a U.S. tour with Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital and Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh. This follows a 2016-17 season which saw the release of the album Azul on Warner Classics with longtime collaborator Yo-Yo Ma; a debut at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center as part of the inaugural “SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras;” and a European tour, which took them to the Easter Festival at Aix-en-Provence and three concerts across Germany, including one at the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg where the ensemble’s performance was lauded as one of the best in the new hall (Hamburg Abendetter).

The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsens, who serve as artistic directors of The Knights, were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship in 2012. The Knights’ roster boasts remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers, who bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from jazz and klezmer to pop and indie rock music. The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance.



Performance & Ticket Details

The Principles of Uncertainty at Jacob’s Pillow

Doris Duke Theatre, August 23-27

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:15pm

Saturday & Sunday at 2:15pm

$45, $35, $25

A limited number of $20 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One ticket per person; each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call.


Tickets are on sale now; online at The Principles of Uncertainty at Jacob’s Pillow

via phone at 413.243.0745, and at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office at 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA, 01223.




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