Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Closes With Boston Ballet & Urban Bush Women, August 21-25

Boston Ballet returns to Jacob's Pillow for the first time in over a decade, performing in the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 21-25. Under the artistic directorship of Mikko Nissinen since 2001, Boston Ballet is recognized worldwide for repertoire that is "one of the most eclectic in the country" (The New York Times). Boston Ballet's program includes excerpts of William Forsythe's critically acclaimed Playlist (EP), which pairs Forsythe's daring choreography to a soundtrack pulled straight from today's top charts; as well as Pas de Quatre and Rodin by Russian classical choreographer Leonid Yakobson; and resident choreographer Jorma Elo's Bach Cello Suites.

"We are thrilled to welcome back to end Festival 2019 with Boston Ballet, a fellow Massachusetts-based cultural institution with an international profile. We're excited to present excerpts of William Forsythe's newest work, showcase Jorma Elo's masterful choreography, and present ballets by Leonid Yakobson for the first time at Jacob's Pillow," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

An international visionary and choreographer credited with revolutionizing ballet, Forsythe fuses contemporary ballet and pop music by artists including Khalid, ABRA, and Lion Babe/Jax Jones in Playlist (EP). Originally choreographed for Boston Ballet's critically-acclaimed Full on Forsythe program that premiered in March this year, Playlist (EP) was Forsythe's first world premiere for an American company since 1992, as part of a long-term partnership with Boston Ballet. The work is "an eclectic showcase of Forsythe's talent, (WBUR)" labeled by Forsythe himself as "neo-classical ballet" (WBUR). Boston Ballet performed Playlist (EP) at the Thétre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, France in April 2019, to rave reviews.

Pas de Quatre, premiered in 1971 and based upon a famous 19th century ballet, boasts ethereal elegance with music of strings and harp by Vincenzo Bellini, from his opera, Norma. A tribute to romanticism, Yakobson's classical work featuring four dancers has been hailed as "a revelation" (The Arts Fuse). In contrast, Yakobson's Rodin is an example of his experimental choreography. Taking inspiration from the sculptures of French artist Auguste Rodin and set to music by Debussy and Alban Berg, the work "persever[es] against conformity and convention" (Fjord Review). A contemporary of George Balanchine, Yakobson's career took a different path as he chose to stay in Russia where his often-subversive choreography was challenged and censored by the totalitarian regime. His work profoundly influenced a generation of dancers including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, and Maya Plisetskaya.

Bach Cello Suites, set to Bach's Cello Suites Nos. 1 & 2, is "certainly cerebral" (The Patriot Ledger). Hailing from Finland, internationally sought-after and award-winning choreographer Jorma Elo created this work for Boston Ballet in 2015. The ballet features ten dancers accompanied onstage by Sergey Antonov, the acclaimed, award-winning Russian cellist.

Boston Ballet, "unified, with great artistic talent and an international reputation," (Danza Ballet) will be a part of the Pillow's annual Summer Send-Off celebration. An epic, final dance party of the summer immediately follows the Saturday evening performance on August 24 on the Great Lawn, as a wrap up to Jacob's Pillow's Festival 2019 season.

Jacob's Pillow presents Urban Bush Women in Walking with 'Trane, August 21-25 in the Doris Duke Theatre. In this evening-length work, Urban Bush Women draw inspiration from the musical life and spiritual journey of legendary composer and saxophonist John Coltrane. Walking with 'Trane highlights the company's ability to weave together genuine movement and ephemeral storytelling into empowering performance. Prior to their Pillow performance, Urban Bush Women will host a series of movement workshops and events in a Pittsfield community residency, August 14-18.

"Urban Bush Women galvanizes artists, activists, audiences and communities through its groundbreaking performances. Their founder, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, has influenced countless choreographers, educators and arts activists and we are honored to welcome back the company in celebration of their 35 years dedicated to the transformational power of dance," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

Founded by visionary, and award-winning choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, recipient of the 2017 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement, Urban Bush Women tell the stories of disenfranchised people through dance. This year, the company announced its two new Co-Artistic Directors, Chanon Judson-Johnson and Samantha Speis. Uniting movement, music, and text from the woman-centered and African Diaspora community perspective, "Urban Bush Women have interpreted the black experience with passion and focus for [over] thirty years" (Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice).

Choreographed to scores inspired by Coltrane's iconic album A Love Supreme, Walking with 'Trane is "...More than a tribute to a jazz icon. It immerses the audience in what it is to be an artist" (The Washington Post). Walking with 'Trane premiered in 2015 after having been developed over the course of four years. Urban Bush Women researched Coltrane's music and how it manifests in physicality, as well as the journey of Coltrane's life. While composing choreographic transcriptions of the music, the company considered how people experienced Coltrane's music-in clubs and in society at large. With Coltrane-influenced scores by Philip White and live pianist George Caldwell, the artists improvise and practice the act of listening and communicating to foster a feeling of immediacy and response.

The evening-length work is composed into two "sides," like a vinyl record. "Side A: Just a Closer Walk with 'Trane" conjures Coltrane's spiritual essence, based in the research of his music and cultural traditions. The performers find spiritual rootedness and heightened performance states through a journey driven by a multi-genre score by White. "Side B: Freed(om)" explores the artistic imprint of Love Supreme and Coltrane's legacy. In diagonal pulls, elastic silences, and chaotic spirals, the performers find communal resilience inside a transcendental composition by Caldwell. Each performer seeks "the emotional state, physical state, and the musical state of being," said UBW choreographer and dancer Samantha Speis (On Tap Magazine).

Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women (UBW) seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. UBW does this from a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond.

UBW galvanizes artists, activists, audiences, and communities through performances, artist development, education, and community engagement. With the ground-breaking performance ensemble at its core, ongoing initiatives like the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance), and the Choreographic Center, UBW continues to affect the overall ecology of the arts by promoting artistic legacies; projecting the voices of the under-heard and people of color; bringing attention to and addressing issues of equity in the dance field and throughout the United States; and by providing platforms and serving as a conduit for culturally and socially relevant experimental art makers.

As of July 2019, Chanon Judson-Johnson and Samantha Speis, longtime Co-Associate Artistic Directors and company members, were appointed as Co-Artistic Directors of the UBW Company.

A limited number of $20 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One ticket per person; each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call.

Performances to the Saturday evening performance include admission to Summer Send-Off celebration.



Related Articles View More Boston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You