Pam Tanowitz to Receive 2024 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award

Pam Tanowitz

by Noah Peretz (Intern, the Rogovoy Report)

(BECKET, Mass.) – Critically acclaimed American choreographer Pam Tanowitz will receive the 2024 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. Tanowitz will accept the award at Jacob’s Pillow’s Season Opening Gala in Becket on Saturday, June 22.

The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award is presented each year to an artist of exceptional vision and achievement, along with a cash prize. Tanowitz, who creates “sublime dance theater of the highest caliber”, according to the New York Times, is an exceptional creator, admired for her combination of classical and contemporary movement ideas, and a deserving recipient of the award.

Tanowitz has created or set work for the New York City Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Juilliard Dance, Ballet Austin, and more. She has been commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival as well as the Joyce Theater, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican Centre, Vail International Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, Guggenheim Works & Process, and many other leading arts institutions.

Pam Tanowitz has received numerous grants and awards over her career, including a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant in 2010, the Herb Alpert Award in 2019, a Doris Duke Award in 2020. In 2016, she received the Juried Bessie Award “for using form and structure as a vehicle for challenging audiences to think, to feel, to experience movement; for pursuing her uniquely poetic and theatrical vision with astounding rigor and focus.”

Tanowitz holds degrees from Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied under former Merce Cunningham dancer and choreographer Viola Farber. She immersed herself in dance by working in administration at the New York City Center while also studying the Center’s archived dance videos and developing her own work.

This summer, Tanowitz’s work Secret Things will receive its U.S. premiere at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival from July 3-7, commissioned and performed by the Royal Ballet of the United Kingdom in the company’s only U.S. engagement this year.

Based in New York City, Tanowitz is also an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University and is the first-ever choreographer in residence at the Fisher Center at Bard. In 2000, she founded Pam Tanowitz Dance, an accomplished company of world-class artists working across disciplines.

“There are very few contemporary choreographers who have created their own singular and theatrical language as Pam has done,” said Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director Pamela Tatge. “It’s one grounded in ballet, but through the bodies of the amazing dancers she casts, it is transformed, personal, and new. When she creates on ballet companies, she allows those dancers to discover new ways to express themselves, and they are better for it. Her collaborations with artists from other disciplines have been hugely inventive and ambitious in ways that the field needs right now. It is an honor to celebrate her with this award.”

The Season Opening Gala in June marks a return to Jacob’s Pillow for Tanowitz. Following her Pillow debut on the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage as part of the Inside/Out series in 2009, Jacob’s Pillow welcomed Pam Tanowitz Dance into the former Doris Duke Theatre for Festival 2016.

Tanowitz expressed her thanks for receiving this year’s Dance Award with a nod to the past as well as the future. “I am very much a dance history lover, and I am honored to be a part of the continuum of history at Jacob’s Pillow,” she said. “When I make my work, from day one, I never think of myself in a vacuum; I try to see the whole timeline of dance, and where I fit in. A lot of what drives my work is the constant question to myself of what has been done before, what I can do that is different, and what perspective I might add to history.”

Tanowitz joins a list of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award honorees that include Misty Copeland, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Dormeshia, Ronald K. Brown, Annie-B Parson, and Paul Lazar, Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Kyle Abraham, Michelle Dorrance, Camille A. Brown, Liz Lerman, and Faye Driscoll, among others. The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award was established in 2007 and is philanthropically supported by an anonymous donor.

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