Jacob's Pillow Completes Archives Expansion, Celebrates Norton Owen's 40th Anniversary
On June 23 at 5pm, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival will celebrate the grand re-opening of Blake's Barn, home of its extensive dance Archives, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and exclusive performance of Antony Tudor's Trio Con Brio by New York Theatre Ballet. A major expansion of Blake's Barn, which houses the Pillow's main exhibition space, a Reading Room, video editing facilities, and storage for the Archives, was recently completed. The restaging of Tudor's Trio Con Brio illustrates the value of the Archives and its role in the continuum of dance. A silent 16-millimeter film of the original 1952 work (which was created and premiered at the Pillow) was identified in the Pillow Archives, enabling New York Theatre Ballet to re-create the pas de trois and perform it for the first time in over sixty years. Jacob's Pillow Members, special guests, and members of the press are invited to attend this June 23 event. The event coincides with the official opening of a new exhibit, Blake's Barn's Best, which includes highlights from landmark Pillow exhibitions by Annie Leibovitz, Jules Feiffer, Lois Greenfield, Al Hirschfeld and more.
"This is a joyous milestone for the Pillow, the cultural field, our community, and thousands of audience members who visit the Festival. The Jacob's Pillow Archives are unique, and are we now substantially increasing access to this free and open to the public resource," comments Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob's Pillow. "The new Reading Room is beautiful and full of rare dance photographs, books, and treasures on display. We have six individual HD video stations and a screening area for visitors to see Festival performances again or view ones they may have missed. We have also redesigned our digital video website, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, where you can enjoy extraordinary performances from anywhere in the world."
The 2015 season marks the 20th anniversary of public access to the Pillow's dance Archives, one of the most significant and accessible collections of archival material within the dance field, as well as the 40th anniversary of Director of Preservation Norton Owen's career with Jacob's Pillow. 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 such as Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, and Martha Graham. Additionally, approximately four terabytes of digital HD video and high-resolution photos are produced each year, documenting performances, rehearsals, talks, events, and oral histories by international dance artists. As the collection grows, so does the demand for access.
Jacob's Pillow expanded Blake's Barn to manage the growing dance Archives and increase access for the public, artists, students, researchers, and scholars. Built in 1992 using structural components from a 19th century barn from Stockbridge, MA (donated by screen and stage star Marge Champion in memory of her son Blake), the main portion of the building is a two-story exhibition space, with a one-story wing housing a library and Reading Room, office space, and the Archives, and an attached deck known as Sommerspace (donated by former Board member Gayle Miller in honor of her parents Ben and Estelle Sommers) which is used for PillowTalks and Pre-Show Talks. On average, 22,000 visitors attend talks and exhibitions in Blake's Barn each summer, and additional visits by scholars, artists, and the general public take place throughout the year.
The expansion broke ground in November of 2014 and will be completed this month, adding more than 700 square feet to the Reading Room and effectively tripling space for both public access and climate-controlled storage. The new Reading Room features additional space for the extensive dance library and new visitor reading areas, HD video viewing stations, display opportunities, and a dedicated area for small groups to gather for communal video viewing. The lower floor of Blake's Barn has been expanded by 1,200 square feet to accommodate additional archival storage and documentation workspace. The expansion was made possible by financial support from individual donors as well as the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
In tandem with the Blake's Barn expansion, Jacob's Pillow recently redesigned and re-launched Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive (http://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/), a completely new version of an unparalleled digital resource for dance first launched in 2011. The website allows global access to clips from dance performances filmed at Jacob's Pillow from the early 1930s through the most recent Festival, curated by Norton Owen and accompanied by historical and contextual information. Videos include rare 1930s footage of Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, the only known moving images of Asadata Dafora (1942), a young Merce Cunningham in Banjo (1955), 1983 footage of Trisha Brown's Set and Reset, and clips from every company that performed in the Ted Shawn Theatre or Doris Duke Theatre from Festival 2010 through Festival 2014, with new entries added every month. Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive has been lauded as "the closest thing the dance world has to an online museum" (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post) and has been used by dance aficionados and newcomers around the world.
This digital resource now includes curated playlists, inviting users to discover new ways of experiencing dance through themes such as puppetry, international artists, men dancers, dances with spoken word, work created at Jacob's Pillow, and partnering. The new Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive is optimized for mobile devices and features all-new design, enhanced search features, social media sharing capabilities, and a new ten-question, multiple-choice guess game with a limitless supply of questions selected at random by the site. Since the re-launch, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive has experienced a 168% increase in daily users - nearly 82% of whom are new to the site. In just over two weeks, more than 10,000 visitors from around the world had experienced nearly 30,000 Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive video and playlist views, guess game rounds, and other forms of exploration. The redesign of this resource was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; Jacob's Pillow worked with digital consulting firm Capacity Interactive and design firm Barrel to create the new website.