Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble Opens Pillow Festival 6/23-27

Jacob's Pillow Dance, home of America's longest-running international dance festival, has enjoyed a long history with Dance Theatre Of Harlem. Founded to create opportunities for minority dancers at a time when they were not welcome in established classical companies, Dance Theatre Of Harlem made its first professional appearances at the Pillow in 1970, the same year the company was launched. While the main company of DTH has been dormant, the Dance Theatre Of Harlem Ensemble has been created. DTH Ensemble will kick off the Pillow's 2010 Festival in the Doris Duke Theatre, June 23-27, performing contemporary ballet works infused with classical technique.

Dance Theatre Of Harlem Ensemble boasts a new generation of talented dancers with a signature style in contemporary ballet. The DTH Ensemble is currently on a national tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of its parent organization, now under the direction of former DTH principal ballerina Virginia Johnson who also performed with the company in its 1970 debut. The Ensemble's appearance at the Pillow is its first weeklong engagement at an international festival. The program includes New Bach choreographed by Robert Garland, a company alumnus; Episode by Peter Pucci; and excerpts from Fête Noir choreographed by the iconic founder of Dance Theatre Of Harlem, Arthur Mitchell and South African Suite choreographed by Arthur Mitchell, Augustus van Heerden and Laveen Naidu.

Jacob's Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff comments, "The Dance Theatre Of Harlem Ensemble is part of a legacy that has made an enormous contribution to dance. The Ensemble is fresh, sharp, and accomplished. Their energy is contagious and will add to the excitement of the opening week of the Festival."

A nod to George Balanchine, who invited Arthur Mitchell to join his New York City Ballet in 1955, Robert Garland's New Bach "alludes to the jazzy syncopation of the Bach-Balanchine masterpiece Concerto Barocco" (Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times). Echoing Balanchine in music and in movement, New Bach is ripe with formal, precise patterns powered by Bach's "Violin Concerto in A Minor." In New Bach, Garland has paid homage not only to Balanchine but also to social dancing, infusing his balletic choreography with slinky, disco-style movement.

Arthur Mitchell's Fête Noir, set to Dmitri Shostakovich's "Piano Concerto No. 2," "is a neoclassic Russian romp set in some imaginary imperial salon. At once crisp and buoyant, it demonstrates how well Mitchell has grasped the real secret of Balanchine's genius-the mastery of the logic and geometry of bodies in motion" (TIME Magazine). South African Suite is set to the jazz and Afro-inspired music of the Soweto String Quartet and was inspired by the vibrant music and dance that Mitchell encountered on Dance Theatre Of Harlem's 1992 journey to South Africa. This six-week tour at the invitation of Nelson Mandela ended America's 30-year cultural ban to South Africa.

Episode, a pas de deux by Peter Pucci, was commissioned by Dance Theatre Of Harlem in 2009. Noted for the "crisp athleticism and goofy, slightly biting humor," and for the "air of modesty that clings to his pieces...both daunting and oddly compelling" (Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times), Pucci's choreography has also been commissioned by the Batsheva Dance Company and Ballet Hispanico.

While at Jacob's Pillow, Dance Theatre Of Harlem's new Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson, will serve as guest faculty at The School at Jacob's Pillow's 2010 Ballet Program and artistic personnel from the Ensemble will lead a Master Class on Sunday, June 27, 10-11:30am. Sunday Master Classes are open to intermediate/advanced dancers, pre-registration is required, call 413.243.9919 x5. Master Classes are $15 per class or $8 for dance instructors with proper I.D. Master Class observation is open to the public and free.

Virginia Johnson will also participate in a free PillowTalk on Thursday, June 24 at 5:00pm.

Now Artistic Director Emeritus, DTH founder Arthur Mitchell made history as the first African-American member of the New York City Ballet. , Following DR. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, he shifted his focus from his own career to the careers of young dancers of color. After leaving NYCB and founding the Dance Theatre Of Harlem School, a professional company quickly materialized for Mitchell, making its official bow at Jacob's Pillow in 1970. The company, comprised almost entirely of dancers of African descent, soon rose to the performance level of the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. After many years of success, DTH was hit hard by the decline in charitable gifts. Without the resources to maintain all facets of this "remarkable institution" (as it was called by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg), Mitchell was forced to put the company on a performing hiatus in 2004.

The Dance Theatre Of Harlem Ensemble, directed by former DTH principal Keith Saunders, performs classic DTH repertory in addition to new works and maintains a legacy of unparalleled opportunity for ballet dancers of all ethnicities. Dunning of The New York Times asserts that there "is a whole new crop of gifted young dancers ready to move on into a reconstituted senior company, to judge by the high level of performing." The members of the Ensemble hail from Brazil, Cuba, Japan, Colombia, Trinidad, and across the United States, and many received training from the Dance Theatre Of Harlem School. Members have previously performed with Ballet Tennessee, Joffrey Ballet 2, Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, Grupo Corpo, Ballet Central, and Dance Theatre Of Harlem, among others.

The formation of the Ensemble is not the only indication of forthcoming change for DTH; as signaled by the recent appointment of former DTH star Virginia Johnson as Artistic Director of the institution. Johnson, who was the founding editor of Pointe magazine and a member of DTH for 28 years, assumed the Artistic Director role in January 2010. Ms. Johnson will be working in partnership with Laveen Naidu, Executive Director. Arthur Mitchell remains vital to the organization as Artistic Director Emeritus.

Performance and Ticket Information
Wednesday, June 23 through Saturday, June 26 at 8:15pm
Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27 at 2:15pm

Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob's Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered on the Doris Duke Theatre porch 30 minutes before every performance.
Tickets range from $30-36. $10 Friday evening and Sunday matinee youth tickets available (sponsored by ALEX®; must be accompanied by an adult).

Tickets on sale now online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745 or in person at Jacob's Pillow.

Box Office hours: Monday through Friday, 10am - 5pm. Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member call 413.243.9919 x125
Jacob's Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob's Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped-accessible.

Free Events at the Pillow June 23 - 27
Free "Inside/Out" Performance - Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre
NEW TIME Wednesday, June 23, 6:15pm
Inside/Out Performance Space
Czech choreographer Dušan Týnek's contemporary dances are "striking for their architectural rigor and fervid movement invention" (The New York Times). Middlegame is inspired by the game of chess and themes of power and submission.

Free "PillowTalk" Discussion - Virginia Johnson Returns
NEW DAY Thursday, June 24, 5pm
Blake's Barn
Precisely 40 years after her Jacob's Pillow debut in the Dance Theatre Of Harlem's first professional engagement, former DTH ballet star Virginia Johnson returns in an exciting new role as Artistic Director. As founder Arthur Mitchell's designated successor, Johnson reflects on her past triumphs with DTH and outlines its future in this hour-long talk.

Free "Inside/Out" Performance - Viewpointe
NEW TIME Thursday, June 24, 6:15pm
Inside/Out Performance Space
Artistic Director Helen Heineman, former soloist with acclaimed contemporary company Nederlands Dans Theatre and principal with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and her contemporary ballet company perform Collage, full of graceful balletic movement, and Bluegrass, a sprightly work set to music by American banjo artist Béla Fleck.

Free "Inside/Out" Performance - Dancewave Company
NEW TIME Friday, June 25, 6:15pm
Inside/Out Performance Space
This company of young student dancers performs works from internationally renowned American choreographers, including the funky Flashback/Flash Forward by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, among other energetic works.

Free "PillowTalk" Discussion - Virtual Pillow
Saturday, June 26, 4pm
Blake's Barn
With selected PillowTalks and other unique content now available online, Jacob's Pillow is reaching out in fresh ways to ever-wider audiences. This informative session explores the concepts behind the current efforts, demonstrates some of the newest initiatives, and previews what's next on the horizon.

Free "Inside/Out" Showing - The School at Jacob's Pillow - Ballet
NEW TIME Saturday, June 26, 6:15pm
Inside/Out Performance Space
International ballet luminary Anna-Marie Holmes and Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute showcase the Ballet Program dancers of The School at Jacob's Pillow in classical ballet variations, and a new work created for the Festival Season Opening Gala choreographed by acclaimed choreographer Karole Armitage.

Other Activities at Jacob's Pillow
The Archives are open to the public and allow impromptu visitors to view videos, browse through books, access the Pillow's computer catalog, or peruse Permanent Collections of Pillow programs and photographs. Pillow Interactive, a popular touch-screen kiosk, provides instant interlinked access to rare film clips ranging from the present day back to the 1930s.

Patrons are invited to explore the historic grounds to discover all the reasons why the Pillow was named a National Historic Landmark, with Guided Tours leaving from the Welcome Center every Friday and Saturday at 5:30pm. Self-guided tour maps are always available as well.

Visitors can also relax in the historic Tea Garden, where Ted Shawn's Men Dancers welcomed the first Pillow audiences in the 1930s, as they peek into the Bakalar Studio to watch rehearsals; picnic on the grounds, or stroll through several ecological zones on the Wetlands Trail, created as part of the Pillow's responsible stewardship of its 163 acres of rural environment.

Dance Opportunities

Morning Jumpstart Classes offered in Pilates, Ballet, Modern, and more, Mondays through Thursdays at 8am. All experience levels, 16 and older, fees apply. Ruth St. Denis Studio. Call the Education Hotline at 413.243.9919 x5

Weekly Master Classes are led by Festival artists on Sundays from 10-11:30am for intermediate and advanced dancers, $15 fee applies. Pre-registration is required. Call the Education Hotline at 413.243.9919 x5

The School at Jacob's Pillow featuring world renowned faculty is open to walk-in public observation Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9am-5pm, at no charge. Groups of four or more should confirm space availability by calling 413.243.9919.
Dining

The Pillow Café offers fine dining with wine service under the tent on The Great Lawn. Wednesdays through Saturdays, dinner is served 5-7pm. Reservations are required, call 413.243.2455.

The Pillow Pub offers casual family fare, takeout for picnics, and full bar service. Wednesdays through Fridays 5pm-midnight, Saturdays noon-midnight, and Sundays noon-5pm.

The Coffee Bar and Ice Cream Bar are open pre-performance and during intermissions.

Sample menus for each dining venue are available at www.jacobspillow.org. Pillow Patrons are also invited to bring picnics and relax at one of many picnic areas on the Pillow grounds.

$10 Youth Tickets sponosored by ALEX® Support for Jacob's Pillow Dance comes, in part, from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

As of March 2010, major support for Jacob's Pillow has been provided by: Asian Cultural Council; The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The Cricket Foundation; the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Frances Alexander Family Fund; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, Inc.; The Leir Charitable Foundations, In Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation; National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts; Leading for the Future Initiative, a program of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, Inc.; The Prospect Hill Foundation; Royal Danish Ballet; RoBert Wood Johnson Foundation Matching Gifts Program; The Roxe Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Trust for Mutual Understanding; The Walbridge Fund, Ltd.; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; MassDevelopment; Mass Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; Save America's Treasures; CEC ArtsLink and the Open World Leadership Center; ALEX®; The Legacy Banks Foundation; Pilgrim Inn; Quality Inn; Rodeway Inn; Super 8 Motel Lee; Jacob's Pillow Business Alliance; and Jacob's Pillow Members.

Major endowment support is provided by The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Leir Charitable Foundations, In Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Onota Foundation; The Prospect Hill Foundation; Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Surdna Foundation; and Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


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