Carmen de Lavallade Set for World Premiere of AS I REMEMBER IT at Jacob's Pillow This Weekend
Carmen de Lavallade's career as a dancer, choreographer, and stage and film actress spans more than six decades working with luminaries such as Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Harry Belafonte, Alvin Ailey, and many others. She already holds the distinction of the longest Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival performing career on record, having made her Pillow debut with Lester Horton Dance Theatre in 1953 and performing at the Festival as recently as 2004 (with Paradigm), and she now extends that record by another decade. In the world premiere of her new solo show, As I Remember It, de Lavallade combines powerful movement and poignant storytelling to weave a theatrical memoir about her venerable life on stage. This exclusive engagement opens the 2014 Festival in the Doris Duke Theatre with a limited three-show run, this weekend, June 20-22.
Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob's Pillow, comments: "Carmen de Lavallade is a national treasure, and her remarkable career is unparalleled. She is an elegant, charismatic performer who has an amazing life to tell us about in this world premiere of As I Remember It. Carmen and the Pillow have a deep shared history, and we are thrilled to be the first to present this new work."
As I Remember It combines dance, film, and spoken word to present a retrospective of the extraordinary career of Carmen de Lavallade. For this intimate production, de Lavallade collaborated with director Joe Grifasi (One Slight Hitch, The 39 Steps, Heaven Can Wait, and more) and dramaturg Talvin Wilks, who has worked on productions with Ping Chong and Bebe Miller, including Miller's Landing/Place, for which he received a New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") award for Dramaturgy in 2006.
De Lavallade says, "Jacob's Pillow has played such an important role in my career. It is hard to believe that my first performance at the Pillow was 61 years ago, which makes this upcoming presentation incredibly special for me. As I Remember It is my personal tribute to the phenomenal artists I have had the great pleasure of working with. I am thrilled to be returning to the Pillow and to have the opportunity to share my stories."
Carmen de Lavallade's early performing career took place with the Lester Horton Dance Theater, the first multi-race dance troupe in the U.S., and she persuaded a neighborhood friend named Alvin Ailey to join her in studying with Horton. She was later a principal guest performer with Ailey on his company's tour of Asia and in some countries the company was billed as the "de Lavallade-Ailey American Dance Company." She went on to appear on Broadway in Truman Capote's House of Flowers, onscreen in Carmen Jones and Odds Against Tomorrow, among other films, and on the concert stage with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Metropolitan Opera, and American Ballet Theatre. Dance critic Jennifer Dunning praised "her gift for the equally convincing expression of earthiness, playful sensuality and raw pain," saying of a 1993 appearance in Milton Myers' Ain't No Way: "her performance, measured yet harrowing in its rawness, ought to be required viewing for today's young dancers" (The New York Times).
In addition to her early Pillow appearances with the companies of Lester Horton (1953-54) and Alvin Ailey (1961-62), de Lavallade has also performed at the Festival with her husband, Geoffrey Holder (1956 & 1960), and in the companies of Glen Tetley and Donald McKayle. John Butler created his iconic Portrait of Billie for de Lavallade and danced in its world premiere with her at the Pillow in 1960. As a tribute to Butler, she revived the duet with Ulysses Dove and presented it here with the choreographer in attendance for a 1992 Jacob's Pillow gala performance. An excerpt of that 1992 performance can be seen within Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive: http://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/dance/carmen-de-lavallade.
Among de Lavallade's other significant Pillow interactions include performing for Pillow founder Ted Shawn's memorial service in 1972, teaching in The School at Jacob's Pillow for six seasons, and being honored at the annual Ted Shawn Circle Dinner in 2011.
This summer, in addition to a limited three-show run of As I Remember It, de Lavallade will discuss the documentary film Carmen & Geoffrey, following a screening in Blake's Barn. Carmen and Geoffrey follows the careers of both de Lavallade and Holder and includes interviews and performances by friends including Ulysses Dove, Judith Jamison, Eartha Kitt, and Alvin Ailey, among others. This film screening takes place on Saturday, June 21, at 4pm and is free and open to the public.
A Post-Show Talk with de Lavallade will follow the Saturday evening performance on June 21.
Performance and Ticket Information
Carmen de Lavallade in As I Remember It
Doris Duke Theatre
Friday, June 20, 8:15pm
Saturday, June 21, 8:15pm
Sunday, June 22, 2:15pm
- Free Pre-Show Talks with a Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence are offered on the porch of the Doris Duke Theatre 30 minutes before each performance
- Tickets $22-38. Now on sale online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob's Pillow Box Office.
- Box Office hours: Sun, Mon, Tues, 11am-5pm; Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-8pm
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.
ABOUT THE PILLOW: Jacob's Pillow, celebrating its 82nd Festival in 2014, is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America's longest running international dance festival. Each Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 350 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, 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 disciplines of arts administration, design, video, 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 videos. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and an extensive schedule of 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 curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; choreography commissions; and the annual $25,000 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award all support visionary dance artists and 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 social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1936 to today. 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, making the Pillow the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award. For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org.