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Jacob's Pillow Dance Fest Presents Dancers of The Paris Opera


Classical virtuosity and wit are the hallmarks of 3e étage, a contemporary ballet ensemble formed by and featuring dancers and soloists of the legendary Paris Opera Ballet. The company was named for the third floor (3e étage) of the illustrious Palais Garnier theatre, where new dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet are first assigned dressing rooms. Directed by Paris Opera Ballet dancer and choreographer Samuel Murez, 3e étage performs contemporary repertoire, unleashing their technical abilities in a lively blend of irreverence and fun. They make their U.S. debut at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival August 3-7. The full-length program, titled Disorders, features ten contemporary ballet works, eight of them U.S. premieres, including Richard Siegal's For Hands, the witty duet me2, and Processes of Intricacy, a duet choreographed by Murez.

Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob's Pillow, comments "Put together the highest level of dancing from the most prestigious and oldest ballet company in the world, with a young choreographer breaking out on the international scene, and you have 3e étage. I can't wait for American audiences to see these dancers, and to be introduced to Samuel Murez, a smart new choreographer who comes from a long and great tradition of ballet."

Founded in 2004 by Murez, who joined Paris Opera Ballet in 2001, 3e étage has a distinctly French style. The company aims to bring playfulness and a rebellious nature to their performances by combining the rigorous training and classical technique for which the Paris Opera Ballet is renowned, with appealing contemporary works. Murez explains, "One of the central goals of 3e étage is to mix our experience and craft, our specialized knowledge and skills, into something that can be appreciated by first-time theater-goers as much as by dance connoisseurs."

The company boasts two first soloists, Josua Hoffalt and Ludmila Pagliero, as well as three soloists, Laura Hecquet, Allister Madin, and Simone Valastro, along with Murez and six other dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Murez, who also choreographs under the pseudonym Raul Zeummes, created seven of the ten works on the Disorders program. He draws much of his inspiration from cinema and narrative forms, as well as the movement of non-dancers such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Tex Avery. Russian journalist Ekaterina Belyaeva, writing in Vremya, calls him "the most interesting young choreographer in Paris today."

Murez states, "Given our rigorous, competitive, highly pressured Paris Opera Ballet education, it may not be so surprising that our work often features characters who have trouble fitting in and coloring inside the lines, or that it recurringly questions the boundaries, rules, and expectations around live performance. In a sense, much of our work is simply about who we are."

Opening the Disorders program is La Valse Infernale, a work corresponding to the structure and themes of Franz Liszt's interpretation of the 1831 opera Robert le Diable. Murez explains that "the feeling of diabolical virtuosity" evoked by Liszt's score inspired his choreography and calls the work a "devilishly difficult showpiece" that "borrows from academic and neo-classical technique." He also notes that his dance Quatre (also on the Pillow program) was once the most technically challenging work that 3e étage performed. After many performances, Quatre was much easier for the dancers, so Murez decided they needed a new, more challenging work and created La Valse Infernale.

Richard Siegal's innovative 2011 For Hands gives high regard to form, the complexity of line, and the superabundance of detail. It is a piece fundamentally motivated by the hands rather than the feet and is lit by James Angot, Technical and Lighting Director of 3e étage. The work is inspired by the quote "THROW NOT AWAY THE HERO IN YOUR SOUL" from Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, with dancers literally embodying the letters and words of the quote as they dance. Siegal is an international choreographer, and a longtime former dancer with William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt.
Murez's works Épiphénomènes and Chaconne are both character driven. Épiphénomènes focuses on the complexities of life's effects and interactions, presenting a darkly funny tale through theatrical characters known as Jill, Jack, the Trickster, and two gravediggers named Ivan and Igor. Chaconne is a duet about the end of a relationship. As the two dancers join and separate, their response to distance and intimacy becomes a battleground. Music by Italian composer Tomaso Antonio Vitali sets the mood for the couple's straining.

The duet me2 is inspired by the bilingual poem "Me Too" by Raymond Federman. Federman, a personal friend of Murez's, was born in 1928 in Montrouge, France. In 1942, he was the only member of his family to survive the Nazi-decreed Vélodrome d'hiver roundup; he lived to become an acclaimed experimental writer. Murez states, "After a life filled with adventure, both real and imagined, he died of cancer in 2009 in San Diego. I am very happy that he was a part of my life. The Jacob's Pillow performances of me2 are dedicated to his memory."

An excerpt from Limb's Theorem (1990) showcases seven dancers performing William Forsythe's signature choreography. Costumes are inspired by the original designs of Férial Simon and Forsythe, while lights are set in the style of Michael Simon and dancers perform en pointe to Thom Willems's pulsing, ticking score. This work showcases spatial structure, shapes, and lines, and was inspired by Forsythe's exploration of Daniel Libeskind's deconstructionist architecture drawings.

In Quatre, one of 3e étage's signature works choreographed by Murez under the pseudonym Raul Zeummes, four men jump, leap, and spin like tops, constantly one-upping each other. He explains that the dance is "an exploration of the interlocking relationships between dancers, their images, and each other." The costume designer Agnès Letestu was named Paris Opera Ballet première danseuse in 1997, still performs with the company, and has also designed costumes for Les Enfants du Paradis for Paris Opera Ballet and the Vienna Opera Ballet's Marie-Antoinette.

Disorders concludes with Les Bourgeois, the virtuosic solo choreographed by Ben van Cauwenbergh from the one-act ballet Brel, and me9 a finale piece with the entire company. Discussing 3e étage's versatility Gerard Mannoni of Altamusica states, "This type of evening, where tradition alternates with creativity... is the best proof of the vitality and enthusiasm of a whole new generation."

Jacob's Pillow has had a long relationship with French dance artists. Notable engagements include a 1942 performance by Marina Svetlova, a young French-American ballerina born in Paris, the first of many Pillow appearances. In 1962, Liane Daydé, a French ballerina, made her U.S. debut at the Pillow, partnered by Serge Golovine in a pas de deux by Paris Opera Ballet director Serge Lifar. In 1963 the ensemble Stars and Soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet made its U.S. debut at Jacob's Pillow and in 1973 Jacqueline Rayet and Jean-Pierre Franchetti of the Paris Opera Ballet made their American debuts, performing work by Maurice Béjart. Since 2000, Compagnie Maguy Marin, Compagnie Käfig, Compagnie Felix Ruckert, and Groupe Emile Dubois have all performed U.S. premieres at the Pillow. In 2007, Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff was awarded the Chevalier Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture, for her work over a decade of presenting companies from France.
Related Event:
Claude Bessy: Traces of Life, a PillowTalk film screening on Saturday, August 6 at 4pm, profiles Claude Bessy, the star of the 1963 Paris Opera Ballet group that performed at the Pillow. As a former director of the Paris Opera Ballet School, Bessy's life has been chronicled by dancer/filmmaker Fabrice Herrault in a documentary to be shown and discussed by Herrault himself. PillowTalks are free and open to the public, and offer rare interaction with artists and experts in the field with in-depth discussions, moderated interviews, film screenings, and book signings. See a full list of the week's free events below.

Performance and Ticket Information

Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, August 3 through Saturday, August 6 at 8pm
Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7 at 2pm
Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob's Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered in Blake's Barn 30 minutes before every performance.
Tickets $59.50-64.50. Now on sale online at, via phone at 413.243.0745 or in person at the Jacob's Pillow Box Office.
Under 35 Fridays: As part of the Pillow's younger audiences initiative: $35 under 35 tickets (for individuals 35 and younger) are available for the Friday evening performance of 3e étage. Limit two (2) per person, must show valid I.D. when tickets are picked up. Under 35 ticket holders will also receive a bonus gift from Under 35 Fridays sponsor Blue Q.
Box Office hours: Monday and Tuesday 10am-6pm, Wednesday through Saturday 10am-8pm, and Sunday 12pm-5:30pm.

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 August 3-7

Free Inside/Out Performance - Kawamura the 3rd
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space
Wednesday, August 3, 6:15pm
Depicting the sudden arrival and slow disappearance of a memory, cloudburst is composed of stillness contrasted by nimble movement. Pandora and specimen use classical and contemporary music to investigate physical contact and curiosity.

Free PillowTalk Discussion - Mondays with Merce
Thursday, August 4, 5pm
Towards the end of Merce Cunningham's life, a ground-breaking online video series was launched to capture Cunningham's company class and other aspects of studio life. Producer/writer Nancy Dalva shares some highlights from the programming produced so far and shares her insights about the post-Cunningham era, along with former Cunningham dancer Jonah Bokaer.

Free Inside/Out Performance - Rainwater Dances
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space
Thursday, August 4, 6:15pm
In Spaces We Inhabit, dancers navigate around and use chairs as props to call attention to their interactions. This Is What I Think Of Your Love invokes both everyday and ballroom movements to create a dream-like state.

"Weekend OUT"
Friday, August 5 - Sunday, August 7
During the second annual "Weekend OUT," Jacob's Pillow welcomes LGBT individuals, families, and friends with a full schedule of free and ticketed events, including a special behind-the-scenes tour spotlighting Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers on Sunday, August 7 at noon.

Free Inside/Out Performance - Jennifer Archibald-Arch Dance Company
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space
Friday, August 5, 6:15pm
Inspired by writer Maya Angelou, Jennifer Archibald weaves together classical, funk, street, and lyrical movement in The Uncomfortable Truth, a look at women's relationships with their mothers. Featuring music by Trentemøller, M.I.A., and Booka Shade.

Free PillowTalk Film Screening - Claude Bessy: Traces of a Life
Saturday, August 6, 4pm
The star of a 1963 Paris Opera Ballet group at the Pillow was Claude Bessy, a glamorous figure who was famously paired onscreen with Gene Kelly. Later the director of the Paris Opera Ballet School, Bessy's life has been chronicled by dancer/filmmaker Fabrice Herrault in this documentary.

Free Inside/Out Performance - The School at Jacob's Pillow: Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space
Saturday, August 6, 6:15pm
Dancers of The School present works created by Program Director Chet Walker and Patricia Wilcox, a Broadway performer and choreographer for musical theatre, opera, and television.

Free 2011 Gallery Exhibits
All exhibits are free and open to the public June 21-August 28.

Annie Leibovitz: DANCE
Blake's Barn
Open Tuesdays-Sundays, noon through final curtain
One of the world's most widely known portrait photographers, Annie Leibovitz has long been interested in capturing the human body, photographing dancers such as Suzanne Farrell, Darci Kistler, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, and David Parsons. Leibovitz has worked with Mark Morris and his company on numerous occasions, and has conceived this exhibition especially for the Pillow to salute the 30th anniversary of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

If You Couldn't See Trisha Brown
Ted Shawn Theatre Lobby
Open Wednesdays-Sundays, 60 minutes pre-performance
A remarkable 1994 Trisha Brown solo, If You Couldn't See Me, was so titled because she performed it with her back to the audience. This exhibition attempts a similar sleight-of-hand, featuring highlights from her past work as well as some oF Brown's own drawings, with the artist's presence concentrated behind the scenes. Emphasizing a wide-ranging creative output, these materials are presented in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Trisha Brown Dance Company and a Pillow relationship that spans more than three decades.

Modern Classics by Barbara Morgan
Doris Duke Theatre Lobby
Open Wednesdays-Sundays, 60 minutes pre-performance
An inspiration to Annie Leibovitz and generations of photographers and dancers, Barbara Morgan created unforgettable images of Martha Graham and other pioneering modern dancers from the generation that followed Pillow founder Ted Shawn. Morgan's family has donated a collection of her original prints from the 1930s and 40s to the Dance Program of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a selection of these iconic images are gathered to celebrate The Dance Claimed Me, an important new biography of a Morgan subject, Pearl Primus.

Precious Medals
Blake's Barn
Open Tuesdays-Sundays, noon through final curtain
When President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to Jacob's Pillow at the White House this year, the Pillow became the first dance presenting organization ever to receive this distinction. The medal itself and the signed presidential proclamation are on display here along with some of the other awards received by the Pillow and its founder, Ted Shawn, including the Capezio Award, The Commonwealth Award, Shawn's medal from the King of Denmark, and other treasures.

Anniversary Highlights: The First Forty
Bakalar Studio
Open to the public whenever classes or rehearsals are not in session
Photos from past Pillow seasons traditionally line these walls each summer, and the upcoming 80th anniversary in 2012 offers a special opportunity to look back comprehensively in two forty-year companion exhibits. This first installment includes images from the Pillow's inception in 1933 through 1972, the year of founder Ted Shawn's death. Foreshadowing next season's anniversary, these images recall high points from the Festival's formative eras.

Other Activities at Jacob's Pillow

The Archives
Blake's Barn
Open Tuesdays-Sundays, noon through final curtain
This informal library and reading room allows 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, the popular touch-screen kiosk, provides instant access to rare film clips ranging from the present day back to the 1930s, and a preview of the Dance Heritage Coalition's new Secure Media Network features videos from other archives throughout the country.

Free Guided Tours
Welcome Center
Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30pm
During the Festival, free guided tours of the 163-acre campus leave from the Welcome Center and offer visitors a casual, informative look at the extensive history that occurred on the Jacob's Pillow grounds. Everyone is invited to see what makes Jacob's Pillow a National Historic Landmark. Plus, patrons can pick up a self-guided tour map anytime to explore the grounds on their own.

Classes and Observations
Patrons are also welcome to visit The School at Jacob's Pillow and observe renowned artist faculty working with emerging professional dancers, either on a drop-in basis or pre-arranged for groups larger than four. Dance and Pilates classes are offered to the public Mondays through Fridays at 8am and are open to all experience levels (class fee required). Master classes with artists of the Doris Duke Theatre are offered every Sunday at 10am for intermediate to advanced dancers (class fee required). Master classes are also open for public observation, without charge. For Community Class information call 413.243.9919.

Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the historic Tea Garden, where Ted Shawn's Men Dancers welcomed the first Pillow audiences in the 1930s. They can also 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 rural environment.

Jacob's Pillow offers many dining options including the Pillow Café, a full-service open air restaurant on the Great Lawn; the Pillow Pub offering casual fare, ready-to-go picnics, and a full bar; the Coffee & Ice Cream Bars, and catering services for groups and events.

The Pillow Store
Visitors can shop onsite for logo items, clothes, gifts, books, and music; all proceeds benefit Jacob's Pillow.

Jacob's Pillow, celebrating its 79th anniversary in 2011, is a National Historic Landmark and home to America's longest running international dance festival. The Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 300 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, exhibits, and events. The School at Jacob's Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S., encompasses the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance, as well as an Intern Program in various departments of arts administration and production. The Pillow's extensive Archives, open year-round to the public, chronicle more than 80 years of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and video. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and more than 200 free public events. Through Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion®, a nationally-recognized program, artist-educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12, transforming existing curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Choreography commissions; Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; and the annual $25,000 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award all support visionary choreographers. Virtual Pillow is aimed at expanding global audiences for dance and offers the opportunity to experience dance and Jacob's Pillow from anywhere in the world via online interactive exhibits, global video networks, and mobile social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, an online video collection of dance highlights from 1937 through 2010, is a new resource with a curated selection of videos by artists who have performed at Jacob's Pillow over the past seven decades. On March 2, 2011, President Obama honored Jacob's Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government. Jacob's Pillow is the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award.
This performance is supported in part by the Neil Chrisman Fund for International Dance at Jacob's Pillow.
As of July 2, 2011, support for Jacob's Pillow has been provided by: Foundations: Arch W. Shaw Foundation; Asian Cultural Council; The Barrington Foundation; Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation through the Berkshire Hills Fund for Excellence and The Central Berkshire Fund; Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Frances Alexander Family Fund; Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Harkness Foundation for Dance; Jerome Robbins Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Korean Cultural Service, New York; The Kresge Foundation; Leading for the Future Initiative, a program of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The Leir Charitable Foundations, In Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Marshall Frankel Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; The National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NDP is supported by lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust); Neal Rantoul Foundation; The O'Neill Foundation; Princeton University; The Prospect Hill Foundation; Québec Delegation to New England; RoBert Wood Johnson Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Spingold Foundation, Inc.; The Thompson Family Foundation; and The T. Backer Fund. Government: The Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a Program of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Mass Humanities, State-based Affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; and Pittsfield Cultural Council. Corporate: ALEX®; Berkshire Bank; Clark and Green; Cranwell; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; LEGO Children's Fund; The Pilgrim Inn; Super 8 Motel Lee; and Wheatleigh. Funding for Inside/Out has been provided, in part, by Greylock Federal Credit Union, The Legacy Banks Foundation, and The TD Charitable Foundation. Endowment: 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. Jacob's Pillow is also grateful to its Members and Business Alliance for their ongoing support.

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