Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Announces Mark Morris Dance Group and Umanoove/Didy Veldman

Mark Morris Dance Group & Music Ensemble returns to Jacob's Pillow's Ted Shawn Theatre, July 17-21, restaging both new and beloved repertory. "A tour de force of artistic storytelling" (The Los Angeles Times), this audience favorite is renowned for deeply witty and poetic dance and has amassed one of the most extensive Pillow performance records of any artist. Mark Morris Dance Group & Music Ensemble performs Prelude and Prelude-a work that has not been performed anywhere since 1992-the new work Sport, excerpts from Words, and the company classic Grand Duo.

"Mark Morris Dance Group has been deeply connected to Jacob's Pillow for decades, and each time they visit, they bring new magic. We are honored to present the company with a special remounting of Prelude and Prelude, which will be a unique experience for Pillow audiences," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

Prelude and Prelude, an early work that premiered in 1984, had been retired since 1992. Choreographed to Henry Cowell's Set of Two for Violin and Harpsichord, Prelude and Prelude features a nine-dancer ensemble with an opposing soloist. The dancers physicalize a score of textures, which visually manifest as spatial shifts and geometrically-shaped movement.

A new work set to a cycle of short piano pieces composed by French pianist Erik Satie, Sport consists of 20 musically-charged movement vignettes. The work was created using sketches and poems that inform a detailed score depicting various sports and leisure activities. Sport will have its world premiere at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival a week before it is performed at Jacob's Pillow.

The dancers and music ensemble perform an excerpt from Words, a piece set to the musical composition of Felix Mendelssohn. Words was commissioned by New York City Center for their 2014 Fall for Dance Festival and features costumes designed by former Mark Morris Dance Group company member, Maile Okamura. The New York Times acclaims, "...the dance shows us how much [Morris] can do with a simple, near-pedestrian dance vocabulary and a phenomenally diverse grasp of basic dance musicality."

Final on the Festival program is Grand Duo, a piece composed of four movements: Prelude, Stampede, A Round, and Polka. The finalized work premiered in 1993, but the fourth section, Polka, was choreographed first in a choreographic residency at Jacob's Pillow and premiered a year prior. Regarded as "one of the most viscerally charged passages in the annals of modern dance" (The Boston Globe) and "one of the masterpieces of the late 20th Century" (The Guardian), the dancers embody Lou Harrison's Grand Duo for Violin and Piano in orderly revel and transcending power.

On Friday, July 19 at 5pm, a free PillowTalk will feature Mark Morris discussing his career and looking ahead to his company's 40th anniversary in 2020, in conversation with Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Seth Williams.


Founded in New York City in 1980 by artistic director and choreographer Mark Morris, the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has been called "the preeminent modern dance organization of our time" (Yo-Yo Ma), its members receiving "highest praise for their technical aplomb, their musicality, and their sheer human authenticity" (Bloomberg News). Live music and community engagement are vital components of the Dance Group, which has toured with its own musicians, the MMDG Music Ensemble, since 1996. Through its community programming, the Dance Group provides educational opportunities in dance and music to people of all ages, with and without disabilities, while on tour internationally and at home at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY.

The MMDG Music Ensemble, formed in 1996, is integral to the Dance Group-"With the dancers come the musicians...and what a difference it makes" (Classical Voice of North Carolina). The Ensemble's repertory ranges from 17th century works by John Wilson and Henry Purcell to more recent scores by Lou Harrison and Henry Cowell. The musicians also participate in the Dance Group's off-stage programs to deepen community engagement at home and on the road.

ABOUT Mark Morris

Mark Morris is hailed as "the most successful and influential choreographer alive, and indisputably the most musical" (The New York Times). He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980 and has since created over 150 works for the company. He began conducting performances for MMDG in 2006 and has since conducted at The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Lincoln Center, and BAM (Brooklyn Academy Of Music). In 2013 he served as Music Director for the Ojai Music Festival. Morris also works extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera, and Covent Garden, among others.

Morris was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991 and has received 11 honorary doctorates to date. He has taught at the University of Washington, Princeton University, and Tanglewood Music Center. He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Morris's memoir, Out Loud, co-written with Wesley Stace and published by Penguin Press, will be released October 22, 2019.

Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. He has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity, the International Society for the Performing Arts' Distinguished Artist Award, the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts, the Orchestra of St. Luke's Gift of Music Award, and the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award. In 2015, Morris was inducted into the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Morris opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York, in 2001 to provide a home for his company, rehearsal space for the dance community, programs for local children and seniors, and dance classes for students of all ages and abilities.


Mark Morris first appeared at the Pillow in 1982 as a soloist, performing Ted Shawn's Mevlevi Dervish as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. This solo was again performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group in 2002 for the Pillow's 70th anniversary.

Mark Morris taught at The School at Jacob's Pillow in 1983 and 1984 and was commissioned to create new works, including Ponchielliana (Ballet Project) and Come on Home (Jazz Project). A number of students he worked with during those summers became early members of his company.

The School at Jacob's Pillow has conducted two Mark Morris workshops, led by Morris himself and members of his company, in 1989 and 1990. Mark Morris Dance Group has amassed one of the most extensive Pillow performance records of any artist, appearing more than 20 times since 1986. The company's most recent Pillow appearance was in 2014.



Jacob's Pillow presents the U.S. debut of London-based company Umanoove with The Happiness Project in the Doris Duke Theatre, July 17-21. Created and performed in collaboration with celebrated Romanian violinist/composer Alexander Balanescu, Didy Veldman's theatrical, full-length work explores the eternal search for fulfillment, praised as "a joy at every turn" (Scotland Herald). The Guardian lauds, "marking the long-awaited launch of Veldman's own company, it promises even better things to come."

"Didy Veldman has a deep relationship with the Pillow, I am thrilled to present the U.S. debut of her new company-The Happiness Project is a lovely, eloquently textured work that is joyous and deeply moving," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

Internationally renowned Dutch dance artist and DanceEast Choreographic Development Award recipient, Didy Veldman launched her own company in 2016 with The Happiness Project.

Featuring four dancers described as "fabulous, theatrically expressive, as well as technically assured" (The Guardian), The Happiness Project takes the audience on a journey through varying manifestations of our search for happiness. Violinist Balanescu takes his own form in the work as a musician who moves through the dancers, "shadowing them as if urging them to feel even more intently" (The Guardian).

In Veldman's own words, "The Happiness Project examines the idea of happiness as something we strive for, as something fleeting, and as something that can be very elusive or even absent." Love, inclusion, and commercialization are some of the many themes explored through the use of props-four boxes are shifted around the stage, a plastic sheet flows through the space, and a translucent cloak is worn by the dancers as clever solos and duos unfold. The work explores how each individual deals with seeking happiness, and "encourages its audience to experience dance as a surge of emotion" (The Guardian).

After a performance career spanning 14 years with Scapino Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Alias Company, and Rambert Dance Company, and creating over 45 works for 25 leading international companies including Cullberg Ballet, Goteborg Ballet, and Icelandic Dance Company, Veldman created The Happiness Project in 2016, marking a new beginning with her own company Umanoove. The company title Umanoove is a nod to her desire to discover movement, combining the words human, move, you, and manoeuver.


Based in London, Didy Veldman created Umanoove in 2016. Through Umanoove, Veldman seeks to explore and discover to develop her own theatrical movement language. She collaborates closely with different art forms and creates work that is touching, engaging, physical, theatrical, humorous, and accessible. Veldman finished touring her new production The Knot throughout the U.K., Jersey, and Copenhagen in 2018. She is currently in research and development at DanceEast in the U.K. for her new work, @Home, with two dancers and composer Sabio Janiak, made possible with support from ACE and DanceEast.

Didy Veldman, born in 1967, was trained in numerous techniques at the Scapino Academy in Amsterdam. She worked with international choreographers such as Ji?í Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Christopher Bruce, Kim Brandstrup, Nils Christe, Glen Tetley, Robert Cohan, Lindsey Kemp, and many others. She began choreographing in 1987, creating work for Scapino Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Britain's Rambert Dance Company.

Veldman also has a keen interest in teaching contemporary classes and workshops. She has taught contemporary classes at the National Ballet School in Amsterdam; The Royal Ballet School in London; Codarts in Rotterdam; The Ballet Boyz in London; McDonald College in Sydney, Australia; Rambert Dance Company and Rambert School; London School of Contemporary Dance; The Prix de Lausanne; and the Youth American Grand Prix in New York, among others.


Didy Veldman first presented her choreography at Jacob's Pillow in 2005 when Les Grands Ballets Canadiens performed TooT. She has since presented other works, and has been a Guest Artist Choreographer for The School at Jacob's Pillow in 2010, 2013, and 2018, and is Co-Director of the Contemporary Program at The School at Jacob's Pillow during Festival 2019.

Related Events:

Inside/Out Performance Series: Ice Dance International

Wednesday, July 17 at 6:15pm


Led by Artistic Director Douglas Webster, Ice Dance International (IDI) brings "ice" dance to the Inside/Out stage for the first time in Pillow history. IDI exists to showcase and promote ice dancing as an international performing art form that blends dance and skating, bringing the highest caliber of the art form to communities across the United States. Sharing the joy, flight, and flow of skating, the company has created two American Public Television specials currently airing on PBS nationwide called The World of Ice Dance International and In Flight: The Art of Ice Dance International. The specials feature ice dances by Pillow favorites Trey McIntyre and Edward Villella, along with Benoit Richaud and Douglas Webster.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Bombshell Dance Project

Thursday, July 18 at 6:15pm


Bombshell Dance Project is a Dallas-based dance company founded in 2016 by Artistic Directors Emily Bernet and Taylor Rodman under a mission to promote the female choreographic voice. In their work Like a Girl, the company reimagines the phrase "fight like a girl" through contrasts in athleticism and power dynamics. Bombshell Dance Project has been presented by the Dallas Arts District, Barnstorm Dance Festival, Austin Dance Festival, Dallas Dances, and The Dance Gallery Festival, and also actively commissions work by female choreographers through its Second Company.

PillowTalk: Mark Morris: A Life in Dance

Friday, July 19 at 5pm

Blake's Barn


From early dance studies in Seattle and starting a New York career at nineteen, Mark Morris looks ahead to his company's 40th anniversary in 2020.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Teelin Irish Dance Company

Thursday, July 18 at 6pm at Pittsfield's Third Thursday in the Dance Zone

Friday, July 19 at 6:15pm


Based in Columbia, Maryland, the Teelin Irish Dance Company has graced stages locally, nationally, and internationally with world class Irish step dance. Under the vision of Director Maureen Berry, recipient of the 2009 Individual Artist Award for Choreography from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) and the 2016 Howie Award from the Howard County Arts Council, the company's innovative style fuses traditional Irish step dance with contemporary dance. In addition to numerous performances at public, private, and corporate events, Teelin Irish Dance Company is also well known for its original productions of feature-length stage shows: Portraits of Ireland (2006-2011), StepDance (2012-2013), Sláinte (2014), and Celtic Storm (2016-2019). Prestigious venues for these productions include the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Stephens Hall Theatre at Towson University, the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, and the Meyerhoff Auditorium at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

PillowTalk: Physics & Dance

Saturday, July 20 at 4pm

Blake's Barn


Dancer/choreographer Emily Coates and physicist Sarah Demers, both Yale faculty members, create a dialogue between art and science in a new book about their two disciplines.

Inside/Out Performance Series: The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Program

Saturday, July 20 at 6:15pm


Dancers of the Contemporary Program are apprentices, advanced pre-professionals, and early-career professionals from leading dance companies and training centers around the world. Darrell Grand Moultrie, Jae Man Joo, and Didy Veldman-three of today's most sought-after, and stylistically diverse, contemporary choreographers-will create new work on the ensemble of dancers.

Renowned mentor, choreographer, and Horton technique expert Milton Myers returns for his 33rd summer as Director of the Contemporary Program, joined by Dutch artistic director, choreographer, and contemporary teacher Didy Veldman. Renowned artist faculty joining the two are Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Rehearsal Director Lucas Crandall; Ballet Master for Alonzo King LINES Ballet Arturo Fernandez; Aya Kaneko, School alumna and Myers' assistant; expert on Forsythe improvisational methods Thomas McManus; one of Britain's leading contemporary technique teachers Kerry Nicholls; Head Faculty at Manhattan Youth Ballet Deborah Wingert; and pianist/composer John Levis, Music Director..

Sunday Master Class: Umanoove/Didy Veldman

Sunday, July 21 at 10am

Doris Duke Theatre

Led by Didy Veldman, this class will focus on a mixture of contemporary techniques, warming up the body slowly by incorporating floor work, and structural exercises. Participants will experience a grounded movement language which utilizes the breath and natural flow of the body while focusing on body and spatial awareness and transfer of weight. Open to all intermediate and advanced dancers ages 16 and over. Quiet observation is welcome; $20 per class or $100 for a 6-class card. Participants younger than 18 will require a parent/guardian's signature on a liability waiver. Pre-registration is required at jacobspillow.org.

Dance for PD®

Sunday, July 21 at 11:45am

Sommers Studio


Dance for PD® founding teacher David Leventhal from the Mark Morris Dance Group leads a free movement class for people with Parksinson's, their families, friends, and care partners. In Dance for PD® classes, participants explore movement and music to increase coordination, balance, flexibility, and strength through ways that are enjoyable, stimulating, and creative. No dance experience is required. In chairs, at a barre or standing, participants will explore elements of modern dance, ballet, tap, creative improvisation, folk and social dancing, and Mark Morris company repertory in a supportive environment, led by professional dancers and musicians.

Related Articles View More Boston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You