Jacob's Pillow Announces Year-Round Programming for 85th Anniversary Season

Jacob's Pillow Announces Year-Round Programming for 85th Anniversary Season

After celebrating its record-breaking 85th Anniversary Season, Jacob's Pillow announces new, expanded fall, winter, and spring programming as a main component of Vision '22, a strategic approach to the Pillow's transformation into a year-round center for dance research and development and a civic partner in our region.

Highlights include the launch of the Pillow Lab and the In Process Series, a robust series of 12 customized artist residencies open to an intimate, invited audience; year-round events consisting of convenings, social dances, Pillow Pop-Up performances, and community programming; and co-presentations with Berkshire County cultural partners including the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College.

Programming additions reflect interviews that Jacob's Pillow conducted among a diverse group of 36 choreographers living and working in the United States. A field-wide scan was conducted to examine existing and developing choreographic residency programs at peer institutions to inform how the Pillow Lab fits within the overall national dance ecology with a distinctive mission, vision, goal, and approach. The community engagement strategy has emerged from community fora and one-on-one meetings with community partners where the Pillow staff and Trustees have listened to what the needs of its region are.

Jacob's Pillow's year-round programming is made possible by the expansion of campus facilities, including additional on-site housing and the $5.5 million, 7,373-square-foot Perles Family Studio, designed by Flansburgh Architects of Boston, MA and described as a "study in cutting-edge design" (Architectural Digest). The Barr and Mertz Gilmore Foundations have provided seed funding to launch elements of the Pillow Lab and community engagement initiatives.

"We are thrilled at the promise of animating our campus beyond the ten-week summer Festival to achieve the goals of Vision '22," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge. "This shift represents an exciting evolution in the scope of Jacob's Pillow. We are strengthening our artistic core by investing in the creation of new work and giving artists the opportunity to dream and experiment; we are utilizing our new facilities to bring people together to learn, develop, and discuss issues that are facing the dance field regionally, nationally, and internationally; and we are working as active citizens in Berkshire County by boosting our civic and community engagement in the region."

In Process Series at the Pillow Lab

The In Process Series at the Pillow Lab offers the opportunity to work in the Pillow's retreat-like atmosphere and state-of-the-art studio spaces, including the brand-new Perles Family Studio. This season expands upon previous years with 12 residencies, including 8 developmental residencies, two technical residencies, one research residency, and one Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion (JPCiM) residency. Now with the ability to host more than one residency at a time, this year's series includes representation of artists from around the United States including Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York, and two international companies from Cuba and Australia.

Customized residencies offered through the In Process Series give artists the time and space to research and develop new work with varying levels of technical aspects and research components, including the opportunity to fund an essential "outside eye." They include access to the Pillow's Archives, free housing, a stipend, filmed archival video footage, and conclude with a private, informal showing for an intimate, invited audience that provides reactions, feedback, and questions. The work created at the Pillow during this series may be at varying stages of development and may or may not be performed at the Festival. Artists that take part in the Pillow Lab are chosen through a closed selection process.

Colleges involved in the Pillow's College Partnership Program are also invited to take part in residency showings, connecting dance faculty and students in the region to the artists in the Pillow Lab.

2017-2018 In Process Series at the Pillow Lab dates and descriptions follow:

Select artist descriptions include links to supplemental video clips within Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, featuring past Jacob's Pillow performances.

  • Ephrat Asherie Dance, September 11-17

"A bona fide b-girl" (The Boston Globe), Israeli-born choreographer, performer, and 2016 New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award recipient Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie is lauded for her command of the genres of breaking, hip-hop, and house. She is the Artistic Director for Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD).

Ephrat Asherie developed the work Odeon in collaboration with her brother Ehud Asherie, an acclaimed jazz pianist and organist praised as a "master of swing and stride" (The New Yorker). The original work for seven dancers and four musicians is set to the music of Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, known for mixing European harmonies with African rhythms in the early 20th century. Odeon takes a hybrid approach by exploring and unraveling the layers of connections between the extended family of dances from the African diaspora like breaking, hip-hop, house, and vogue.

This work was also developed in part with a separate Pillow residency in December 2016.

Related video on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, Ephrat Asherie's Step 4.2 (2014): danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/ephrat-asherie-dance/step-4-2

Sought-after contemporary Cuban ensemble Malpaso Dance Company collaborates with Emmy-nominated choreographer Sonya Tayeh. An Associate Company of Joyce Theater Productions, Malpaso Dance Company is led by Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, Executive Director Fernando Sáez, and dancer and Co-Founder Daileidys Carrazana.

The residency will be used to develop Tayeh's work Face the Torrent which will premiere December 2nd at The Music Center in Los Angeles as part of Cuba: Antes, Ahora/Then, Now, an exploration of traditional and contemporary Cuban art forms. Face the Torrent confronts the underlying angst inherent in facing adversity and tragedy.

This is the inaugural residency made possible by the Vivienne Jones Endowment Fund at Jacob's Pillow created by Christopher Jones, President of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Board of Trustees and his wife, Deb McAllister in honor of Jones's mother. The Fund was established to enhance the reach of the Pillow Lab by supporting a residency for a company based outside of New York/New England.

Related video on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, Malpaso Dance Company, Under Fire (2015): https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/malpaso-dance-company/fire/

  • Bebe Miller Company, November 4-12

Artistic Director of Bebe Miller Company (BMC), Bebe Miller is a four-time New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award winner, United States Artists Ford Fellow, Doris Duke Artist Award winner, and 2015 Movement Research Honoree with support from the National Endowment of the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation, among others.

Miller's residency, which is sponsored by LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts, will focus on developing the work Dancing in the Making Room, a work that explores the dynamics of adaptation and translation. Inspired by the writings of Gertrude Stein, Toni Morrison, and David Foster Wallace, Miller investigates the syntax of movement through the writers' mastery of the structure of language. Dancing in the Making Room is the suite of new dances Miller created as part of an overarching project The Making Room. Dancing in the Making Room will premiere at the Wexner Center for the Arts, November 30-December 3, 2017.

Related essay on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, Women in Dance, written and curated by Maura Keefe:


  • Dorrance Dance, November 6-12

Lauded as the "Tireless Ambassador of Tap" (The New York Times), 2016 United States Arts Fellow, 2015 MacArthur Fellow, and 2013 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award Winner Michelle Dorrance brings her company Dorrance Dance for a residency to develop a new work.

Jacob's Pillow has been an artistic home for Michelle Dorrance. After making their Pillow debut as part of the Inside/Out Performance Series in 2011, Dorrance Dance performed as part of the Festival four seasons in a row (2013-2016). The company has participated in numerous residencies to develop new work, including The Blues Project, ETM: The Initial Approach and ETM: Double Down. In Festival 2017, Michelle Dorrance curated an evening of tap dancers from around the world for the Ted Shawn Theatre called TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience.

The residency will be used, in part, to assist in the development of a work commissioned by Jacob's Pillow with the support of Jim Chervenak.

Related videos on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, Dorrance Dance, The Blues Project (2015): http://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/dorrance-dance/blues-project/

Dorrance Dance, ETM Double Down (2016): https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/dorrance-dance/etm-double/

  • Morgan Thorson, November 13-19

During her residency, Morgan Thorson will work on Public Love, a dance intervention that investigates power through tenderness and the art of touch. By rejecting power as physical control, this research will create a constellation of physical definitions from these subjects as source material for an evening-length production. The work also investigates the private and personal in the creative process to challenge and disorient established binaries like choreographer and dancer.

Based in Minneapolis, dance-maker Morgan Thorson investigates and interrogates all aspects of dance production through a progression of research and creation. Thorson is a 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Awardee as well as an USA artist Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a two-time McKnight Fellow, and a Creative Campus Fellow at Wesleyan University. She has been supported by NEFA National Dance Project and the NPN Creation Fund.

  • Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion (JPCiM) Artist Educator Residency, Nov 26-Dec 9

JPCiM is a nationally-recognized, arts-integrated curricular approach that connects Berkshire County K-12 students, classroom teachers, and administrators to kinesthetic learning. Each residency is co-taught by prominent Jacob's Pillow Artist Educators in collaboration with classroom teachers to foster new ways of academic learning, social interaction, and creative thinking by linking choreography, kinesthetic intelligence, and critical and imaginative thinking to academic learning subjects.

In conjunction with a school residency at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, MA, JPCiM Artist Educators will have additional access to an In Process Series residency, emphasizing the link between teaching artists as makers. Artist Educators Elizabeth Johnson, Margot Greenlee, and Alivia Schaffer will present a glimpse into their process. Students and their families, along with teachers and administrators involved in the program will be invited to this special showing.

Known for "mixing super-charged energy with tossed-off charm" (The New York Times), Caleb Teicher, alumnus of The School at Jacob's Pillow and one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch," brings his company Caleb Teicher & Company (CT&Co) to develop a new, evening-length collaboration with composer Conrad Tao. Tao, regarded as "shaping the future of classical music" (New York Magazine), is a critically-acclaimed pianist and composer.

Known for presenting new work that blends the American dance forms Tap, Lindy Hop, and Vernacular Jazz in a modern context, Teicher will use this residency to explore the early stages of the sonic and visual potential of a stage inhabited with sand. Teicher began his career as a founding member of Dorrance Dance and is currently an artist-in-residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation.

  • Circa Contemporary Circus, February 12-18

At the forefront of the new wave of contemporary Australian circus since 2004, Circa Contemporary Circus travels from its base in Brisbane, Australia and will take part in an

In Process Series residency. Featuring an ensemble of multi-skilled circus artists under the direction of Yaron Lifschitz, Circa's award-winning work has been seen in 39 countries across six continents and by over one million audience members world-wide.

Circa pushes boundaries of how extreme physicality can create powerful and moving performance, blurring the lines between movement, dance, theatre, and circus. The company will use the Pillow's expansive facilities to experiment with new acrobatic work.

Related videos on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, Circa, CIRCA (2012):


Circa, S (2014): https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/circa/s/

  • Ilya Vidrin, February 26-March 4

Ilya Vidrin's research residency will bring together a small team to continue work on deconstructing principles of dance partnering. Vidrin questions which aspects of partnering are determinable, generalizable, and measureable by utilizing unique haptic technology created during residencies at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vidrin's practice-based research emerges from an in-depth look at genres that use partnering, including classical Pas de Deux, Latin Ballroom, and Contact Improvisation, and through fieldwork with the Royal Swedish Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, and the ERick Hawkins Dance Company.

An additional component of the residency will involve time in the Jacob's Pillow Archives for historic research of the technique, timing, and role designation of partnering in choreography of Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers. This residency will culminate in a lecture-demonstration on partnering and the benefits and drawbacks of using theoretical scholarship and technology within movement research and development.

Vidrin's rich artistic practice directing the Reciprocity Collaborative is informed by his undergraduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience and Rhetorical Theory and postgraduate studies in Human Development. He is currently synthesizing his academic and artistic interests through a practice-based PhD in Performing Arts, with fellowships at Harvard University and the Centre for Dance Research (United Kingdom).

  • Wendy Jehlen & ANIKAYA Dance Theater, March 19-25

Following a community workshop in the neighboring city of Pittsfield in October (see description below), Wendy Jehlen will further develop her work, Conference of the Birds. This evening-length movement theater work, inspired by the epic poem by Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar, embodies the stories gathered from modern-day refugees and other migrants, bringing together international collaborators from Turkey, the United States, Brazil, Benin, Egypt, Japan, France, and India .

Founder and Artistic Director of Boston-based ANIKAYA Dance Theater, Jehlen is a dancer and choreographer with a unique approach to narrative work that synthesizes music, dance, and storytelling from around the world. Conference of the Birds is supported by a Building Bridges grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and a Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation.

  • David Roussève, March 29-April 8

David Roussève, praised for "a remarkable flair for fusing storytelling, characterization and a deftly explosive movement style," (The Washington Post) will develop Halfway to Dawn - The Strayhorn Project with his company, REALITY. This evening-length piece dives into the work of Duke Ellington's main arranger and writing partner, Billy Strayhorn, who remains largely unknown, though he co-wrote much of arguably the most important body of work in American music history in the 1940's-1960's.

Redefining 'biography' as the intersection of fact, conjecture, comment, abstraction, and fantasy, Halfway to Dawn seeks to uncover the truth of Strayhorn's life. Choreography interlaced with video-projected text and abstract art explores the rhythmic foundations and emotional undercurrents of the music, combining the polyrhythms of African American social dance to the rolling hips of Fosse and the sequential flow of postmodern dance.

Related video on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, David Roussève/REALITY, Stardust (2014): https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/david-rousseve-reality/stardust/

  • Zoe Scofield, April 23-May 6

Zoe Scofield, the Seattle-based Co-Artistic Director and choreographer of zoe | juniper, creates dance performances described as as "a crazy dream you just can't shake" (The Boston Globe). zoe | juniper's work intersects dance with installation and video technology, frequently challenging audience perceptions.

Scofield will receive a technical residency to develop her new work always now. In collaboration with Bebe Miller, Scofield seeks to spark a simple shift in the structure of traditional performance by altering audience-dancer relationships, using classical ballet technique as a starting point. This work is supported by the Princess Grace Foundation Choreography & Mentorship Co-Commission award.

Related video on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. zoe | juniper, A Crack in Everything (2011):


Year-Round Events and Programs

Jacob's Pillow year-round events include convenings, social dances, Pop-Up Performances, and Community Programming which take place on-site of the Pillow's 220-acre campus and off-site in neighboring communities, increasing engagement with Berkshire County and the New England region at-large.

Additionally, Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion (JPCiM) will begin the expansion of its nationally-recognized, arts-integrated curriculum program which links choreography, kinesthetic intelligence, and critical and imaginative thinking to academic learning in subjects such as social studies, biology, math, and Spanish. This academic year, JPCiM will expand to Morningside Community School in Pittsfield and Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School in Great Barrington, beginning the implementation of its goal to extend the program to all all eight Pittsfield elementary schools over the next five years.

Descriptions and details of Year-Round Events follow:

Some events have closed registration and are open to invited guests only.

  • New England Choreographers Convening, September 30-October 1

Closed to Public

In this weekend-long retreat, 35 New England-based choreographers are brought together for an opportunity to gather, reflect, share work, and learn from one another. This convening will include an introduction to Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process, a widely-practiced method of giving feedback in dance and other disciplines. Described by The Washington Post as "the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art," Liz Lerman, a long-time choreographer, performer, writer, educator, speaker is the recipient of the 2017 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award. Other retreat activities include presentations by New England funders, work sessions, informal networking time, and tours of the Pillow grounds and Archives. This event is supported by The Barr Foundation.

  • Pillow Party Series, October 14

Ticketed, Open to Public

Well-known for their "euphoric scenes" (The New York Times), the Pillow extends its calendar of dance parties in the Perles Family Studio with a focus on the social aspects of dance. The first of the series, led by founder of Urban Bush Women, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, is a fun, participatory journey through African American social dances from 1955 through the present, called How We Got To The Funk. The party will feature live music by Brooklyn-based Craig Harris & Tailgaters Tales. All events in this series are open to all, no experience needed, with more dance parties to come in Spring 2018.

$10 tickets can be purchased online, children under 12 are free: https://jacobspillowdance.formstack.com/forms/dance_party_tickets

  • Urban Bush Women Dramaturgical Convening, October 13-15

Closed to Public

Urban Bush Women (UBW) will host a convening for dramaturges, scholars and the 2017 UBW Choreographic Fellowship Candidates - Marjani Forté-Saunders, Francesca Harper, Marguerite Hemmings, Paloma McGregor, and Amara Tabor-Smith - to discuss and share methodologies around dramaturgical practice in dance and support for work exploring complex narratives that address culture, identity and history.

Founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. Their work is rooted in engaging audiences in innovative choreography, community collaboration, and artistic leadership development from a women-centered perspective as members of the African Diaspora community.

  • Conference of the Birds, Wendy Jehlen, October 16-17

Free, Open to Public

Coinciding with an In Process Series residency later in March, ANIKAYA Dance Theater and founder Wendy Jehlen, will conduct a story gathering workshop in Pittsfield with collaborators from Japan, Egypt, Benin, and the United States.

Enhancing the creative process within her work Conference of the Birds, the workshop will dive into exploring what a story is and how to tell stories without using words, searching for common narratives. Jehlen and the dancers of ANIKAYA will guide participants in exercises that help promote listening to each other in order communicate in new ways by moving together. Using text, spoken language, drawing, and movement to explore themes like migration and journey from the epic storyline of the Persian literary masterpiece The Conference of the Birds, the stories gathered from the workshop will be directly woven into the work of the multi-faceted, multi-lingual, and multicultural narrative.

This project is supported by a Building Bridges 2017-2018 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) and a Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation. No dance experience necessary. English fluency not expected or necessary. People with all bodies, abilities, and backgrounds are invited.

Pre-registration is required for this event.

Related Articles View More Boston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Never Miss a Story
Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram