Crystal Pite to Receive the 2011 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award


Jacob's Pillow announces today that Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff will soon present the fifth annual Jacob's Pillow Dance Award to Crystal Pite, an internationally renowned Canadian choreographer and Artistic Director of contemporary dance company Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM. The Jacob's Pillow Dance Award honors outstanding visionary artists and carries a prize of $25,000, one of the largest cash awards in the dance industry, to be used by the choreographer to enhance their artistry in any way they choose. The official in-person presentation of the Award will take place at the Jacob's Pillow Season Opening Gala on Saturday, June 18.

"Crystal is one of the most talented, intelligent, and original dancemakers to come along in recent years," comments Ella Baff. "A former dancer with William Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet and a riveting performer with her own troupe, she has also choreographed for major international companies, many of which have performed at the Pillow. She is respected and admired by the dance field throughout the world, and each of her creations is something unexpected and deeply imaginative. We are proud to honor her with this year's Jacob's Pillow Dance Award."

Integrating movement, original music, text, and rich visual design, Crystal Pite's distinctCrystal Pite to Receive the 2011 Jacob's Pillow Dance Awardchoreography is a compelling mix of classical elements and complex, structured improvisation. Her works are often marked by strong theatricality and a keen sense of wit and invention. Her company, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, performed Pite's Lost Action at Jacob's Pillow in 2009. They return in 2011 to perform her dramatic and innovative work Dark Matters, in the Doris Duke Theatre, July 6-10. Crystal Pite will take part in a free PillowTalk at Jacob's Pillow on Saturday, July 9 at 4pm and will lead a free Master Class for intermediate to advanced dancers on Sunday, July 10 at 10am, as part of the Pillow's Community Dance Day. For a video preview of Dark Matters, click here --

The Jacob's Pillow Dance Award was created in 2007 with an ongoing, annual anonymous gift of $50,000, of which $25,000 is given to an artist of exceptional vision. In addition to the cash award, the honoree receives a custom-desigNed Glass sculpture by Berkshire-based artist Tom Patti, whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other prominent collections worldwide. In 2007, the inaugural Award was given to Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, co-directors of Big Dance Theater. In 2008, the Pillow honored Alonzo King, Artistic Director of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. In 2009 the Award was given to Merce Cunningham, whose company gave its final performances during his lifetime at Jacob's Pillow later that season; in 2010 Bill T. Jones accepted the Award weeks after receiving his second Tony Award for the Broadway hit FELA!

The other $25,000 of the anonymous donor's annual gift supports Jacob's Pillow commissions, presentations, and the Creative Development Residency Program, which have supported Festival 2011 artists Trisha Brown, Mark Morris, Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown, Big Dance Theater, and zoe | juniper.

The Jacob's Pillow Dance Award emphasizes the Pillow's commitment to support choreographers at various stages of their careers, and to support the creation of new work through the Pillow's Creative Development Residency Program. During these residencies, artists are invited to spend one to three weeks at the Pillow creating or rehearsing new work, with free housing for the company, unlimited use of studio space, and access to the Pillow's rare and extensive Archives and other Pillow resources. In the beautiful, retreat-like atmosphere of the Pillow, the Creative Development Residencies are rare opportunities for artists to focus on the creative process without distraction.

Notable artists who have created or premiered dances at the Pillow include choreographers Antony Tudor, Agnes De Mille, Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle, Kevin McKenzie, Twyla Tharp, Ralph Lemon, Susan Marshall, Trisha Brown, Ronald K. Brown, Wally Cardona, Andrea Miller, Kimberly Bartosik, and Trey McIntyre; performed by such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carmen de Lavallade, Mark Morris, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Edward Villella, Rasta Thomas, and hundreds of others.

Born and raised on the Canadian West Coast, choreographer and performer Crystal Pite is a former company member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet.

Pite's choreographic debut was in 1990 at Ballet British Columbia; she also performed at the Pillow with this company in 1993 and 1995. Since then, she has created works for Nederlands Dans Theater I, Cullberg Ballet, Ballett Frankfurt, The National Ballet of Canada, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (Resident Choreographer, 2001-2004), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Ballet Jorgen, and several independent dance artists, most recently Louise Lecavalier (who is also a Festival 2011 artist). Pite is also Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater and Associate Dance Artist of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

In 2001 she formed Kidd Pivot and continues to create and perform in her own work. Kidd Pivot's residency at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt has provided Pite the opportunity to create her most recent work, The You Show, with her dancers and collaborators. She is the recipient of the Banff Centre's Clifford E. Lee Award (1995), the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award (2004), and the Isadora Award (2005). Her work has received four Dora Mavor Moore Awards (2009), and a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award (2006). She is also the recipient of the 2008 Governor General of Canada's Performing Arts Award, Mentorship Program.

The Jacob's Pillow Dance Award is presented in person during the Pillow's Season Opening Gala, which this year includes the private opening of the new Annie Leibovitz dance photography exhibit and a solo performance by acclaimed pianist and composer Philip Glass. Additional Gala performances include a solo by David Neumann, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Benjamin Millepied's duet Closer, KEIGWIN + COMPANY in Runaway, and a performance by the Mark Morris Dance Group. A world premiere created by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, learned in four days, will be performed by dancers of the Ballet Program of The School at Jacob's Pillow. Benjamin Millepied and Mercedes Ellington will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs for this event. The Season Opening Gala is a benefit event; funds raised support the artistic and educational programs of Jacob's Pillow, a not-for-profit organization. Tickets are still available, call 413.243.9199 x126 to purchase.