BWW Reviews: CARMEN DE LAVALLADE Doesn't Rest at JACOBS PILLOW

BWW Reviews: CARMEN DE LAVALLADE Doesn't Rest at JACOBS PILLOW
Photo by Christopher Duggan

There is a powerful vibration that pierces all of your senses as you explore the grounds of Jacobs Pillow. Tucked away in the Berkshires of Becket, Massachusetts, the location is as scenic as it is sacred.

As you walk down the graveled pathways, you cannot help but feel the presence of the dance greats who once performed there. The air is thick with memories of Barysgnikov, Limón, Ailey, Holder and of course De Lavallade.

De Lavallade at age 83, holds the record for the longest Jacobs Pillow dancing career since her debut there with the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1953. So, what better place to host the world premiere of her one woman show than at Jacobs Pillow.

She carefully titles her autobiographical venture As I Remember it, because it is just that, how she remembers it. The three day limited engagement was a sold out event. Directed by Joe Grifasi and co written by Talvin Wilks, it's a mixture of childhood tales, memories of dancing triumphs and struggles with the likes of Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey and John Butler. It includes Shakespearean monologues and poetry.

BWW Reviews: CARMEN DE LAVALLADE Doesn't Rest at JACOBS PILLOW
Photograph by Christopher Duggan

The set designed by Mimi Lien was simple consisting of a padded bench and a wooden chair, which De Lavallade holds a minute long crutch pose with no shaking. Images from her past are projected onto a harp shaped fringe curtain. She dances along with her younger self in a section from her performance in John Butlers unforgettable piece Portrait of Billie (Holiday.) The moment is a carefully crafted exploration of Billie's struggle with heroin addiction, still clinging onto her image as "Lady Day." Ms. De Lavallade begins a series of movements, scratching at her arms, she slumps over rubbing at her veins all while trying to find her image again by stroking the iconic Holiday Gardenia which decorates her hair. It's an imagine as powerful as it is painful.

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Ryan Kilpatrick Ryan Kilpatrick is an actress and writer whose love for the arts stems from her early exposure to theater and classic films. Her one woman show "Notes From a Horne" about the late entertainer Lena Horne, earned her a festival favorite award at the Atlanta Black Theater Festival in 2012. Ryan graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a B.F.A in Screenwriting.