Adam H. Weinert Reconstructs Ted Shawn's Culminating Achievement 'Dance Of The Ages'
Adam H. Weinert performs Jacob's Pillow founder Ted Shawn's epic work Dance of the Ages, the first evening-length modern dance work ever presented, in celebration of the work's 80th anniversary. This exclusive engagement transforms the Pillow's campus to reflect the original performance as first experienced in 1938, featuring use of the Pillow's original barn studio, now known as the Bakalar Studio, traditional production components, and an authentic pre-performance Tea Garden lecture.
"We hope to give audiences the once in a lifetime experience of the Pillow campus, the way it must have felt eighty years ago, while giving them the opportunity to revisit this iconic work of American modern dance," says Director Pamela Tatge.
"Performing Dance of the Ages here, now, has never been more important. This work became the centerpiece of the penultimate tour of The Men Dancers and was seemingly written in response to the attacks on democracy at the brink of World War II. Finding resonance today is as sobering as it is inspiring," says Adam H. Weinert.
Weinert and his nine-person male ensemble, featuring dancers who studied at The School at Jacob's Pillow, reconstruct Dance of the Ages with a mixture of historical accuracy and contemporary reflection. The reconstruction process took over 15 months and was made possible through Jacob's Pillow's extensive Archives, which holds images, films, costumes, and press clippings from the original production. Vintage costumes, images, and film excerpts are displayed throughout the season in a Ted Shawn Theatre lobby exhibit, also titled Dance of the Ages. Meanwhile, a collaborative exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art entitled Dance We Must coincides with the project, displaying an extensive collection of costumes and memorabilia from the time period of the work, through November 11.
Modeled after The Men Dancers' famous lecture-demonstrations, Dance of the Ages begins with an informal Tea Garden reception, marked by J.M. Tate's durational interpretation of Shawn's Death of an Adonis (1924) performed on a pedestal. Suited in the signature white robe of The Men Dancers, choreographer/lecturer Sydney Skybetter provides pre-performance context, blurring the lines between lecture and performance as Weinert and his ensemble serve tea and finger sandwiches to the audience.
Dance of the Ages is performed inside the Bakalar Studio, the Pillow's original barn studio, featuring the original Jess Meeker score played live by pianist John Sauer. Sauer himself is an important link to an earlier era, known for accompanying classes at the Pillow since 1971 and working as a professional colleague of Shawn's long-time composer Jess Meeker. Production elements enhance historical accuracy including original staging, natural lighting from large side windows, and eclectic seating. Historical consultant Caroline Hamilton and Costume Supervisor Anna McDunn create costumes made after the original designs.
"It's a dream come true to be able to see this dance presented in its original venue once again," says Director of Preservation Norton Owen. "Audiences will be able to 'time travel' and imagine themselves back in the formative years of Jacob's Pillow, bringing our history alive in a powerful way."
ABOUT DANCE OF THE AGES
Dance of the Ages premiered on September 9, 1938 at Jacob's Pillow. Shawn considered Dance of the Ages to be the "summit of his achievement as a choreographer, dancer, and educator." Each section mirrors one of the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. With no narrative, Shawn referred to this as pure dance.
Dance of the Ages was also his first dance in "symphonic framework" to be presented as a full evening's program. Shawn used the word symphonic to describe the work's structure, with many different themes introduced and explored. After its premiere at Jacob's Pillow, Dance of the Ages traveled to Montreal and became a cornerstone of The Men Dancers' repertory in hundreds of cities until the company's final performance in May 1940.
ABOUT Ted Shawn
Jacob's Pillow founder Ted Shawn is a modern dance pioneer widely accepted as "The Father of American Dance" who legitimized the role of men in dance through abstract, barefooted, and decisively masculine choreography. Shawn initially purchased a farm in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts called Jacob's Pillow in 1930 as an artistic retreat, laying the groundwork for his revolutionary company of men dancers and America's oldest dance festival.
In July 1933, Shawn and his Men Dancers started using the Bakalar Studio to give public "Tea Lecture Demonstrations" to promote their work. That summer, an initial audience of 45 grew so quickly that people were eventually turned away. Although Shawn and his Men Dancers were among the first to use film as documentation of the work they developed, rehearsed, and performed at Jacob's Pillow, Shawn's choreography is not frequently performed or seen today.
ABOUT ADAM H. WEINERT
Hudson-based performance artist Adam H. Weinert is critically acclaimed for reconstructing the the work of Ted Shawn with a distinguishable contemporary resonance. Weinert was a 2013 Jacob's Pillow Research Fellow and performed early solos by Shawn as part of a series hosted at the Museum of Modern Art and Tate Modern. In 2016, Weinert premiered the evening-length work MONUMENT at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, praised as "impressive, strange, a puzzle you want to solve" (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), where he revived works by Doris Humphrey, José Limón, and Ted Shawn.
Weinert began his training at The School of American Ballet, and continued on to Vassar College, The Juilliard School, and New York University, where he recently earned a Master's Degree under the tutelage of André Lepecki. Weinert has danced with The Metropolitan Opera, The Mark Morris Dance Group, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Christopher Williams, and for six years served as the Artistic Associate to Jonah Bokaer.
In addition to his performance work, Weinert has been published in The New York Times, the Juilliard Journal, and as a featured profile in New York Magazine. He produced and choreographed an award-winning collection of dance ?lm shorts screened nationally and abroad, and his performance works have toured to four continents including a number of non-traditional dance venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Tate Britain Museum, and The Tate Modern Museum. He was awarded Presidential Distinction and Scholastic Distinction from the Juilliard School, and in 2008 received the Hector Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography.
Tickets on sale now. To purchase tickets and find more information, please visit jacobspillow.org/events/historic-reconstruction-dance-of-the-ages/.