Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Opens 87th Season With Ballet BC & CIRCA, June 19-23

Jacob's Pillow opens its 87th season with premier Canadian contemporary ballet company Ballet BC in the Ted Shawn Theatre, June 19-23. Celebrating ten years under the leadership of Artistic Director Emily Molnar, Ballet BC is considered one of the most significant Canadian companies, acclaimed as "physically rigorous, dramatically solid, and truly contemporary" (Dance Magazine). Ballet BC's program features the U.S. premiere of Bedroom Folk from Israeli collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, Molnar's most recent work To this day, and Medhi Walerski's signature Petite Cérémonie.

"I can't wait for Ballet BC to open Festival 2019. The program they are bringing showcases the dancers' stunning versatility and prowess, and exemplifies why they are considered one of the best contemporary ballet companies today in Canada and beyond," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

Ballet BC brings the U.S. premiere of Bedroom Folk from Israeli choreographers and collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. Intensely cool, a house beat pulses through an intoxicating space as dancers move in hypnotic synchronicity. Originally created for the Nederlands Dans Theater in 2015, Bedroom Folk is an electric mix of music, dance, and light. Former Associate Artistic Director and House Choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company, Eyal and techno-music producer Behar have collaborated together since 2012. Their company L-E-V made its U.S. debut at Jacob's Pillow in 2013.

To this day is inspired by and set to Jimi Hendrix's posthumous Blues album, revealing the intimate and daring space where the blues meets Molnar's expressive choreographic style. The work was choreographed to mark the 10th anniversary of Molnar's tenure at Ballet BC and salutes the way in which her unique vision has steered the company into a celebrated era of innovation and collaboration.

Petite Cérémonie, choreographed by French choreographer Medhi Walerski, is a humorously thought-provoking work created in a sensitive, episodic dialogue that has become a famed signature of Ballet BC's diverse repertoire since its premiere in 2011. Performed in formal black suits and cocktail dresses, dancers climb on and move in between rows of white boxes; Walerski describes the work as a "quirky essay on the way we box ourselves in." Set to music selections by Mozart, Bellini, Rodgers & Hart, and Vivaldi, The Georgia Straight lauds, "Medhi Walerski's unpredictable, dreamlike Petite Cérémonie is the talk of the night. It's odd, sensual, aggressive-a delirious mix of everything."

Related Pillow-exclusive programming includes an intimate PillowTalk with Emily Molnar and Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Maura Keefe on Friday, June 21 at 5pm, where Molnar will discuss her various roles as a dancer, choreographer, and director of Ballet BC, as well as plans for the future.


  • Ballet BC at Jacob's Pillow

Ted Shawn Theatre, June 19-23

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm

Saturday & Sunday at 2pm

$78, $65, $45

A limited number of $35 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.



June 19-23, Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15pm; Sunday at 2:15pm

Doris Duke Theatre

"Circus at its purest and most thrilling" (Daily Review), Brisbane-based Circa is at the forefront of contemporary Australian circus, creating awe-inspiring performance from extreme physicality. Three fearless acrobats challenge perceptions of what the human body is capable of through a sublime display of interlocking bodies, aerial rope, and trapeze work in What Will Have Been, accompanied on stage by a live violinist and fusing together the music of Bach and Philip Glass with spine-tingling electronica. Founded by visionary Yaron Lifschitz, the ensemble blurs the lines between movement, dance, theater, and circus and has toured to over 39 countries across six continents since 2004, returning to the Pillow for the third time. Tickets start at $35.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Kotchegna Dance Company

Wednesday, June 19 at 6:15pm


Performing in elaborate masks to the explosive percussion of a group of brilliant drummers, Kotchegna Dance Company brings to life the ancient stories and legends of Africa's Ivory Coast, praised by The New York Times for "feverishly intricate rhythms from drummers who knew countless ways to subdivide a beat and make it jump."

Artistic Director Vado Diomande is a master dancer and percussionist, who was born into the sacred stilt-dancing tradition of the Mahou people in northwest Ivory Coast. As a young member of the Ballet National de Cote D'Ivoire, Diomande absorbed diverse dances of over 60 ethnic groups of the Ivory Coast. Diomande has toured the world, impressing audiences with the acrobatics of the Tall Mask, "God of the Sacred Forest", and Gue-Pelou. Diomande re-established his dance company in New York City in 1994, as Kotchegna Dance Company, developing a corps of multicultural dancers and a repertoire that is widely loved and admired.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Luke Hickey

Thursday, June 20 at 6:15pm


Tap dancer and choreographer Luke Hickey, an alumnus of The School at Jacob's Pillow, performs the high-energy trio A Little Old, A Little New. Representing the arc of American culture from the jazz era to modernity, the work is a collaboration between musicians and tap dancers, celebrating the cultural importance of both art forms. Choreographed, performed, and directed by Hickey, the performance also features two dancers alongside Davis Whitfield and his jazz trio Maniacs of 4th Dimension.

PillowTalk: Emily Molnar's Decade

Friday, June 21 at 5pm

Blake's Barn


In celebration of her 10 years leading Ballet BC, Emily Molnar discusses her various roles as dancer, choreographer, and director, and her plans for the future.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Micaela Taylor's TL Collective

Friday, June 21 at 6:15pm

Thursday, June 20 at 6pm at Pittsfield's Third Thursday in the Dance Zone


The TL Collective fuses contemporary dance and theatrical hip-hop with elements of groove and acrobatics, bringing high levels of athleticism to the stage. Artistic Director Micaela Taylor is highly acclaimed, including as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" and recent recipient of the Inaugural EMERGE Choreographic Award from Springboard Danse Montréal. The TL Collective performs Taylor's newest evening-length work Drift, which seeks to demonstrate an individual's ever-changing relationship to self while exposing a personal season of self-growth. Drift premiered at the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Ford Theatre's Artist-in-Residence program.

PillowTalk: Charles Reinhart Returns

Saturday, June 22 at 4pm

Blake's Barn


The longtime director of American Dance Festival directed Jacob's Pillow in 1974 and managed publicity here in the 1960s, returning now with stories to tell.

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

Saturday, June 22 at 6:15pm


Dancers of The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Ballet Program are apprentices, trainees, pre-professionals, and early-career professionals with leading ballet companies from around the world. Their performance for Festival audiences includes choreography by Aszure Barton as well as the new ballet created on them for the 2019 Season Opening Gala by esteemed choreographer Matthew Neenan.

The Contemporary Ballet Program is directed by Alexandra Damiani, former artistic director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Matthew Neenan, co-founder of Philadelphia's premier contemporary ballet company BalletX.

Sunday Master Class: Circa

Sunday, June 23 at 10am

Doris Duke Theatre

Circa's work has been seen in 40 countries by over one million people. At the core of Circa's practice is four space theory - a performance and analytical framework created by Yaron Lifschitz. Todd Kilby, Tour Director and member of the Circa ensemble, will lead participants through a practical introduction of this framework that will explore how the theory and some key features function, and how they are used in movement creation and improvisation.

Open to all intermediate and advanced performers 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.

Special Workshop: Flamenco with Briseyda Zárate

Tuesday, June 25 at 6:30-8pm

Get ready to dance and become inspired! Led by California-based flamenco dancer and choreographer Briseyda Zárate, this introductory class introduces participants to the main techniques of flamenco dance including braceo and floreo (movement of the hands and arms), zapateo (footwork), and palmas (rhythmic clapping). Participants will learn a brief and fun combination using all of these elements. Please wear comfortable clothing to move in and sturdy, hard-soled shoes. For intermediate/advanced dancers ages 16+; $20; pre-registration required at jacobspillow.org.


Dance We Must: Another Look

Blake's Barn, June 19-August 25

Open Wed-Sat noon to final curtain (approx. 10pm) and Sun-Tues noon to 5pm; FREE

Drawing upon the acclaimed 2018 exhibit at the Williams College Museum of Art, the Pillow's historic costumes, set pieces, and other artifacts are viewed through a different lens, illuminating the early years of American modern dance with alternative voices brought forward. The adjacent Norton Owen Reading Room features recent donations and more from the Stephan Driscoll Collection.

Assemblages by Paul Taylor

Ted Shawn Theatre Lobby, June 19-August 25

Open daily, noon to final curtain


Beyond dancemaking, Paul Taylor was an infinitely creative artist in multiple media, and Jacob's Pillow salutes his memory with his own idiosyncratic visual works, some on public display for the first time. Assembled mostly from found objects, Taylor's artworks are joyful, haunting, humorous, bawdy, ingenious, and just as memorable as the dances for which he is best known.

Merce Cunningham: Loops

Doris Duke Theatre Lobby, June 19-August 25

Open daily, noon to final curtain


This abstract virtual reality portrait of Merce Cunningham was created by digital artists Paul Kaiser and Marc Downie. With imagery derived from a motion-captured performance by Cunningham of his solo dance for hands, and soundtrack of Cunningham reading from early diary entries, Loops recognizes the Cunningham Centennial by distilling the great choreographer's essence into a unique work of art.

Jacob's Pillow Archives/Norton Owen Reading Room

Blake's Barn, June 19-August 25

Open daily, Wed-Sat noon to final curtain (approx. 10pm) and Sun-Tue noon to 5pm


This spacious, 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 from the Pillow's Archives. The Norton Owen Reading Room also features recent donations and more archival treasures from the Stephan Driscoll Collection. Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, available on a popular touch-screen kiosk, provides instant access to rare film clips ranging from the present day back to the 1930s.

Related Articles View More Boston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You