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Jacob's Pillow to Welcome Dorrance Dance, Featuring Music by BIGLovely & BODYTRAFFIC

Following two sold-out engagements in both 2013 and 2014, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival presents tap sensation Dorrance Dance with famed singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon and her band BIGLovely in the return of The Blues Project, July 1-5 in the Ted Shawn Theatre. Founded in 2011 by Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient Michelle Dorrance, Dorrance Dance features some of today's best tap artists, performing alongside co-choreographers of The Blues Project Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K. Grant. Award-winning musician and composer Toshi Reagon created the music for The Blues Project, which is performed live by Reagon and members of her band, BIGLovely, on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums and percussion, and violin.

Called "the best kind of party" by Marina Harss of The New Yorker, The Blues Project premiered at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in 2013 in the Doris Duke Theatre to sold-out houses. A tribute to tap's historical roots in blues music, the work features a diverse selection of dance styles including tap, zydeco, Appalachian flatfooting, and Lindy Hop, all performed by Dorrance's collection of topflight, uniquely talented dancers. "One of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today" (Brian Seibert, The New York Times), Michelle Dorrance is among the most respected tap performers and choreographers of her generation.

The Blues Project is a creative collaboration that explores the relationship between music, sound, and movement. "Toshi Reagon (on acoustic guitar and honey- or husky-sweet lead vocals) and her excellent band, this compilation of original blues makes loving reference to its musical past," states Janine Parker of The Boston Globe. "It's a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, yes, but also very funky and wonderfully kick-ass." Tap sensation Dorrance was also joined in the creation of the work by Grant and Sumbry-Edwards, both driving forces in the tap world, well-known for their dance captain roles in the hit Broadway musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, and each credited as "dancers with deep knowledge of tap's traditions and its connections to the blues" (Brian Seibert, The New York Times).

This performance is included in Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival's Weekend OUT celebration July 3-5, which includes performances, talks, a special Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers tour, a film screening with Elizabeth Streb, and a July 4th dance party for all Saturday ticketholders. The Weekend OUT schedule can be found online


Dorrance Dance aims to honor tap dance's unique history in a new, dynamic, and compelling context. The form of the tradition is not stripped, but instead pushed rhythmically, aesthetically, and conceptually. In 2011, Dorrance Dance's inaugural performances at Danspace Project in New York City garnered a New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award for "blasting open our notions of tap." The company has performed as part of the Pillow's Inside/Out series as well as The Joyce, White Bird, The Broad Stage, the Fall for Dance Festival at NY City Center, The Kennedy Center, The Yard, Symphony Space, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Barcelona Tap Festival, The D.C. Tap Festival, The North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival, The Soul to Sole Festival, and Beantown Tap Festival's On Tap!, often to critical acclaim.


Michelle Dorrance, founder and Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance, is "one of the hottest tap artists of her generation" (Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe). Dorrance is the 2014 Alpert Award recipient, 2013 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award winner, a 2012 Princess Grace Award Winner, 2012 Rockefeller Foundation & Mertz Gilmore-sponsored Field Dance Fund Recipient, and 2011 New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award Winner. She performs, teaches, and choreographs throughout the world. Mentored by Gene Medler, Dorrance grew up performing with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble and has since performed with STOMP, Manhattan Tap, Savion Glover's company Ti Dii, JazzTap Ensemble, Barbara Duffy & Company, Rumba Tap, Derick K. Grant's Imagine Tap, and Jason Samuels Smith's Chasing the Bird. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and teaches on faculty at Broadway Dance Center and Nicholas van Young's Institute for the Rhythmic Arts. In 2014, Dorrance was the Program Director of the Tap Program of the School at Jacob's Pillow.


Toshi Reagon has been described as "a talented, versatile singer, composer, producer and musician with a profound ear for sonic Americana- from folk to funk, from blues to rock" by critic/blogger Eva Yaa Asantewaa of InfiniteBody. "She masters each of these genres with vocal strategies that easily spiral and swoop from the expressively sinuous to the hard-charging, a combination of warmth and mischief." Reagon's expansive career has included notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, and Madison Square Garden, as well as music festivals, intimate venues, or local clubs. Her dance and theater collaborations include work with Urban Bush Women, Jane Comfort and Company, and LAVA. She has also performed two operas with Robert Wilson and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon. She has been the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts award for Music Composition as well as The Black Lily Music and Film Festival award for Outstanding Performance. Reagon is a National Women's History Month Honoree and the 2010 recipient of OutMusic's Heritage Award. In 2011 she received a Stonewall Honors Award with her partner J. Bob Alotta. Reagon also founded the festival Word*Rock*& Sword: A FESTIVAL Celebration of Women's Lives, which is now in its fifth year and will occur in September 2015 in New York City.


Derick K. Grant is a performer, choreographer, and director with an established career that spans more than three decades. Under the direction of Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe, Grant was an original company member and dance captain for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk at both The Public Theater and on Broadway. He also starred in the role of "'da beat" for the first National Tour of the musical. Grant created the critically acclaimed show Imagine Tap!, his choreography has been featured on Fox's hit series So You Think You Can Dance, and he has performed and recorded with Grammy Award winner Dan Zanes. Grant is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Upcoming Young Artist, the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Featured Actor, a Los Angeles Ovation Award for choreography and for Best Ensemble Performance in Noise/Funk, and was most recently recognized for Best Choreography for Imagine Tap!. Additionally, Grant was on faculty for the Tap Program of The School at Jacob's Pillow in 2010 and 2012. He is currently a corporate Tap Spokesperson for SóDança and continues to transform and inspire dance communities around the world.


Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards has been a part of nearly every major tap film or production since the 1980s. She received a 2012 New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award for Outstanding Performance, the Hoofer Award from The American Tap Dance Foundation, Black Excellence Award Best Actress nomination for the lead role in the film The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang, and has appeared on the cover of Dance Magazine. Sumbry-Edwards continues to appear as a special guest for shows and festivals around the world, was elected to the advisory board for Dance Magazine, and is the official Tap Spokesperson for Capezio. Sumbry-Edwards' career includes Black and Blue, Imagine Tap!, and Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk where she was a dance captain, principal dancer, and understudy to the lead role on Broadway as well as the national and international tours. Her choreography credits include Michael Jackson's music video Rock My World, and the Sophisticated Ladies, who are featured weekly at the Cotton Club in New York City. Sumbry-Edwards was also the private tap instructor to Michael Jackson for 11 years. She worked on the production Apollo Club Harlem, which debuted in 2013. Sumbry-Edwards continues to be revered as one of the most dynamic tap dancers in the industry today.

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