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Jacob's Pillow Announces Site Expansion

Jacob's Pillow Dance announces a major expansion of its popular curated online video collection, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. Beginning today, the site will feature a series of multimedia essays from renowned dance scholars on three distinct themes: Tap, Women in Dance, and Dance of the African Diaspora. Contributing scholars include The New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert on Tap; Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence and contemporary dance historian Maura Keefe on Women in Dance; and dancer, dance historian, and scholar John Perpener on Dance of the African Diaspora. This expansion was designed by Barrel, project managed by Jennifer Edwards, and made possible with generous support from the Media Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive allows us to bring our stages to people across the globe," says Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge. "This new expansion highlights the depth and breadth of the Archives and offers a significant contribution to the dance field."

"Many months of research, planning, writing, design, and implementation have been invested in getting us to this point," says Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen. "We have long wanted to make the experience of exploring our resources more available to anyone anywhere at any time, and we're enormously excited to now share the results of these efforts."

The newly-launched editorial platform of Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive features more than 30 essays on topics richly archived and relevant to conversations surrounding today's dance industry. Each essay includes archival materials of various media, including video interviews with artists, scans of original printed programs, photographs, and rare performance excerpts, resulting in a simulated, expert-led tour through the extensive Archives. Maura Keefe's Women in Dance theme features more than 20 female choreographers including popular artists of today-Jessica Lang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Crystal Pite-as well as modern dance masters Twyla Tharp and Trisha Brown, among many others. Brian Seibert's articles tell the story of tap at Jacob's Pillow and beyond, featuring iconic tap artists Dianne Walker, Jason Samuels Smith, and beloved Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient Michelle Dorrance. John Perpener's essays take a look at the pioneering work of Asadata Dafora, Pearl Primus's first Pillow performance in 1947; artists more recently at the Pillow such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and dives into the deep history of African American heritage at Jacob's Pillow. The Themes/Essays portion of the site can be viewed here:

This launch encompasses roughly half of the essays that will populate the site, with others to be added in the weeks ahead. In addition, the NEA Media Arts Program has already approved funding for the further development of the Themes/Essays resource, with additional themes, curators, and essays to be chosen and developed later this year.

The multimedia nature of the essays highlight the depth of unique primary resources available in the onsite Archives at Jacob's Pillow, one of the most significant and accessible collections of archival material within the dance field. Blake's Barn, home of the Archives, houses tens of thousands of photographic prints and negatives; hundreds of boxes of correspondence; 9,000 films and videos from as early as 1894 to today; 6,615 online catalog records describing archival resources; and almost 30 trunks of costumes worn by dance icons Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, and others. Additionally, approximately four terabytes of digital HD video and hi-resolution photos are produced each year, documenting performances, rehearsals, talks, events, and oral histories by international dance artists. The essays integrate these rarely-seen resources-clips of video interviews, images, scans of original printed programs, documents, performance clips-as both support material and as a deeper point of entry into the Archives.

The launch of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive editorial platform follows the recent unveiling of the online Archives site which offers a complete set of digitized programs from throughout the Pillow's 84-season history. These documents include everything from the first performance in the Ted Shawn Theatre (a 1942 premiere by Agnes deMille) to this past season's programs including commissioned essays from Pillow Scholars-in-Residence. Thousands of digitized photos are now available including 1930s snapshots of Ted Shawn's Men Dancers, many previously-unseen portraits of Pillow artists, and recent performance shots by Festival Photographer Christopher Duggan. The site includes catalog records for nearly 7000 videos in the Archives, hundreds of which are linked to online highlights that are instantly viewable through Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. In addition to these features, any dancer who has ever performed at Jacob's Pillow, including thousands of former students, may also be searched by name.

ABOUT JACOB'S PILLOW: Jacob's Pillow, celebrating its 85th Festival in 2017, 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 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 a century 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. During Creative Development 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, and Trey McIntyre; performed by artists such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carmen de Lavallade, Mark Morris, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Edward Villella, Rasta Thomas, and hundreds of others. The Pillow's digital initiatives are 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. An important part of the Pillow's digital presence, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1933 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

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From This Author Molly Tracy