Jacob's Pillow Concludes 2011 Season, Looks Forward to 2012

In March of 2011, President Barack Obama honored Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival with the National Medal of Arts at the White House. In the spring, the Pillow expanded worldwide access to dance with the launch of Dance Interactive, an online video resource and game, recently called "priceless" and "the closest thing the dance world has to an online museum" by Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post.

During its 79th Festival season, Jacob's Pillow hosted more than 89,100 free and ticketed visitor experiences, the highest number in the organization's history. Providing access to dance and expanding audiences is a vital part of the Pillow's mission, and more than half of the 2011 Festival offerings were free, including the exclusive Annie Leibovitz: DANCE photography exhibit; a PillowTalk with Ms. Leibovitz and choreographer Mark Morris; 9 events presented as part of Lift Ev'ry Voice: Celebrating African-American Culture and Heritage in the Berkshires; and free Inside/Out dance performances seen by 16,500 audience members.

Claudia La Rocco of The New York Times summed up the Festival succinctly: "Two-plus months, more than 300 total dance-related events, companies traveling from all over the globe: the Pillow isn't messing around."

Jacob's Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff states, "Along with presenting premieres and company debuts from all over the world, we are passionate about providing access to dance for everyone. The Pillow is dedicated to bringing new people to dance - both on site during the Festival and at all times online, through Virtual Pillow. Given the current economy, this year marked some of the highest attendance numbers ever for our free events: free performances, free talks with artists, film showings, and photography and art exhibits. The video viewing room at the Archives was consistently packed throughout the Festival and every day people around the world discover new artists through our online resources. This is all good news. People are spending more time enriching their experience with dance and expanding their ideas about it - that curiosity strengthens the art form and gives it staying power."


Founded in 1933 by modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn, Jacob's Pillow is a National Historic Landmark and home to America's longest-running international dance festival. Though the 2011 Festival has concluded, the Pillow's outreach continues. New online resources, videos, and talks are added to Virtual Pillow throughout the year, and have already amassed more than 700,000 views to date worldwide. Artist residencies in schools bring the innovative Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion® program to 22 classrooms, advancing learning for 350 students and 28 classroom teachers. Creative Development Residencies help artists make new work in a retreat-like setting. Filmmaker Ron Honsa's new dance documentary Never Stand Still, filmed on location at Jacob's Pillow, is currently screening in festivals across the country and will continue into 2012. In the Berkshires, Never Stand Still will be shown at MASS MoCA on October 28, 2011 as part of the Williamstown Film Festival.

January 2012 marks the official beginning of the Pillow's 80th Anniversary. January through March, The School at Jacob's Pillow will hold auditions for its 2012 programs in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and internationally. March 24 and 25, Jacob's Pillow and MASS MoCA will host an annual co-presentation in North Adams; this year Australian contemporary dance company Chunky Move will return to the United States to perform Connected, choreographed by Gideon Obarzanek. The 80th Anniversary Season will kick off June 16, 2012 with the Season Opening Gala, and will include more than 300 free and ticketed performances and events, to be announced in January.


Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff continued her commitment to presenting work that excites audiences and advances the art form. The 79th Festival presented 8 world premieres and 16 U.S. premiere works including several that were created at the Pillow as part of its Creative Development Residency Program; 3 U.S. debuts (Carte Blanche, DanzAbierta, and 3e Étage: Soloists and Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet); live music; and exclusive programs from around the globe. Fifty-two dance companies and more than 400 dance artists from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Argentina, Cuba, South Korea, France, and across the U.S. participated in the season. Anniversaries of 3 major dance companies were celebrated: Trisha Brown Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

The fourth annual Jacob's Pillow Dance Award, including a $25,000 cash gift made possible by a generous anonymous donor, was awarded to Crystal Pite, renowned choreographer and Artistic Director of Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM. Pite's company performed in a week-long engagement in July, leading as the highest selling Doris Duke Theatre performances of Festival 2011.

In 2010, Jacob's Pillow was required to replace its outdoor stage by the 2011 Festival. Thanks to widespread support, Jacob's Pillow celebrated the opening of the Henry J. Leir Stage at the Marcia and Seymour Simon Performance Space, home to the free Inside/Out performance series. This season, the Pillow welcomed 16,500 people of all ages for 41 free performances on a completely re-built, larger and improved stage. Highlights included Boston-based Urbanity Dance; the world premiere of Bluegrass! by tap group Dorrance Dance; Sabrina Avilés' Flamenco Dance Project; performances by John Heginbotham of the Mark Morris Dance Group and former Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member Stefanie Batten Bland; and the "smoldering" (New York Times) Mark Stuart Dance Theatre. Seven alumni of The School at Jacob's Pillow returned to Inside/Out as artistic directors of their own dance companies, plus many more alumni performed as members of prominent companies on all three stages.

Free PillowTalks by esteemed artists, public figures, composers, authors, critics and journalists, filmmakers, and scholars included choreographer and artistic director Mark Morris; celebrated portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz; Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang; The Huffington Post's Debra Levine and Jennifer Edwards; and Humanities scholar and cultural critic David Kyuman Kim, among others. This season welcomed the highest number of visitors in Pillow history to Blake's Barn and the Archives- the location of Annie Leibovitz: DANCE, an exhibit of 320 images chosen by Leibovitz for an exclusive exhibit at the Pillow.

Jacob's Pillow also hosted a wide range of community events including the second annual Weekend OUT for the LGBT community and friends, an Arts Educator Weekend, a Master Class with tango artists from Tangueros del Sur, and the annual free Community Dance Day.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2011 "by the numbers":
Festival 2011 boasted a total of 160 free and ticketed performances by 52 companies representing 9 countries.
16,500 patrons experienced a free Inside/Out performance.
An estimated 22,600 patrons visited the Archives, browsed the exhibits, engaged in a free PillowTalk, or took in a free pre or post-show talk.
8 world premieres including zoe | juniper's A Crack in Everything; How We Process by Kyle Abraham and Camille A. Brown; Jodi Melnick and David Neumann's July; and Stanton Welch's World Premiere performed by the Ballet Program students for the Season Opening Gala.
16 U.S. premieres, including Ballet Genève's Romeo and Juliet; Killer Pig by Carte Blanche; DanzAbierta's MalSon; Children and A Few Minutes of Lock by Louise Lecavalier; Big Dance Theater's Supernatural Wife; Jonah Bokaer's Recess and Why Patterns; and eight works performed by 3e Étage: Soloists and Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet.
14 programs featured live music including Tangueros del Sur; Jodi Melnick and David Neumann; Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; Mark Morris Dance Group; Big Dance Theater; A Jazz Happening; Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project; Alexandra Beller/Dances; Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute; Flamenco Dance Project; and the Season Opening Gala with renowned composer/pianist Philip Glass.
10 programs were exclusive to the Pillow, including the Season Opening Gala; Jodi Melnick and David Neumann; Kyle and Camille; Carte Blanche; DanzAbierta; 3e Étage: Soloists and Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet; Louise Lecavalier; and A Jazz Happening, the Pillow's annual benefit for The School at Jacob's Pillow, which featured guest appearances by Trent Kowalik (Billy Elliot), Dana Moore (Fosse), and Andy Gale (Les Miserables).
3 Pillow Commission or Co-Commission works were created and premiered, including How We Process by Kyle Abraham and Camille A. Brown; zoe | juniper's A Crack in Everything; and the duet July by Jodi Melnick and David Neumann.
Norway's Carte Blanche, Cuba's DanzAbierta, and 3e Étage: Soloists and Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet made their Company U.S. Debuts in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre.
82 dancers from 17 countries trained at The School at Jacob's Pillow under the direction of 39 master artists in 4 professional advancement programs: Ballet, Samba, Contemporary, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance.
Included in the Pillow's 235 free offerings were 119 Pre-Show Talks, 20 Post-Show Talks, 10 workshops, classes and performances as part of Community Dance Day, 20 engaging PillowTalks, 23 public tours, 5 exclusive new exhibits including Annie Leibovitz: DANCE, and 41 Inside/Out performances.
More than 3,000 people experienced dance first-hand through Morning Classes, Master Classes, class and rehearsal observation, intergenerational Families Dance Together classes, the Days in the Arts program for young students, and many other opportunities.
In the spring, Jacob's Pillow and MASS MoCA co-presented 2 performances of Cuba's Los Muñequitos de Matanzas after a nearly 10 year absence from performing in the U.S.
33 Interns and 4 Apprentices from across the States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil lived and worked at Jacob's Pillow for 15 weeks, gaining professional experience in arts administration and production.
Fellowships were awarded to 6 eminent researchers from throughout the U.S., offering unlimited access to the Archives and other Pillow resources.

The annual operating budget of the Pillow-including the stewardship of its 163 wooded acres and 32 buildings-is $5.4 million. Ticket sales account for approximately 35% of the budget and the balance is raised annually from a variety of sources, which this year includes funds contributed through the Pillow's membership program; the annual Season Opening Gala; A Jazz Happening, benefiting The School at Jacob's Pillow; and grants from foundations, corporate sponsorships and government agencies.

Jacob's Pillow operates year-round, offering numerous community and artist programs in the fall, winter, and spring. The organization hosts Creative Development Residencies for artists, providing rehearsal space, housing, and resource support for invited dance companies to create new work or further develop existing choreography. Jacob's Pillow Curriculum-in-Motion® integrates artist educators into 22 Berkshire County public school classrooms to provide students with expanded methods of learning traditional subjects. The Pillow's extensive Archives are also open to the public year-round: appointments are by request in the fall, winter, and spring and can be made by contacting Director of Preservation Norton Owen at 413.243.9919 x150. For additional information on Jacob's Pillow, visit jacobspillow.org.


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