Jacobs Pillow Announces 2012 Season

Highlights of 80th Year of World Class Dance

By: - Dec 19, 2011


January 2012 will kick off the momentous 80th Anniversary of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, a National Historic Landmark, National Medal of Arts honoree, and America’s longest-running international dance festival. Founded in 1933 by modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn as a retreat for his company of Men Dancers, Jacob’s Pillow has been a mecca of dance for eight decades. Nestled in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, “the Pillow” is acclaimed for its rich history, unique and beautiful location and atmosphere, and forward-thinking international programming of the highest quality. The international celebration of dance, music, the visual arts, and culture begins June 16 with the 80th Anniversary Season Opening Gala and continues through August 26.

The 80th Anniversary Season includes an impressive blend of world premieres, U.S. premieres, live music, company debuts, legendary dance companies, emerging choreographers, and more than 300 ticketed and free events, talks, performances, classes, exhibits, and tours hosted at the Pillow’s 163-acre National Historic Landmark site.

 Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff comments, “The 80th Anniversary Season celebrates Jacob’s Pillow’s history-making contributions to dance over eight decades, beginning with early 20th century pioneers Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, and the Men Dancers. This year’s Festival also affirms the Pillow’s steadfast commitment to new and important dance-makers and performers, as well as unique presentations that give artists and audiences opportunities to discover new things about dance. There is no other place like Jacob’s Pillow; it is truly unique. It is a destination – a nexus for dance that generates inspiration and is enjoyed by people from all over the world as well as right down the road. We look forward to welcoming everyone to this year’s particularly special Festival.”

Baff affirms her dedication to presenting dance of many forms and styles from around the world with an 80th Anniversary Festival that features companies spanning nine countries and five continents: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, and the United States. The Hong Kong Ballet, Morphoses, and Vertigo Dance Company are among many troupes that will make their Jacob’s Pillow debuts. Companies with historical connections to Jacob’s Pillow include The Joffrey Ballet, returning for the first time in nearly 50 years, and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which made its 1964 U.S. debut at the Pillow.

Once-in-a-lifetime engagements will also be presented. A weeklong homage to Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers will feature a 20-member cast of some of the greatest male dancers and choreographers of today including Lar Lubovitch, Jason Samuels Smith, Arthur Mitchell, David Neumann, Trent Kowalik, Cartier Williams, and Jock Soto, among many others.

Three specially selected “Back by Popular Demand” productions will be discovered anew by audiences. Ella Baff comments, “I hope to encourage the public to consider more contemporary dance works as classics, to be revisited in the same way that we enjoy and deepen our appreciation for classic works of music, theatre, and the visual arts.” This series includes Tero Saarinen’s powerful Shaker-inspired Borrowed Light, which premiered in the U.S. at the Pillow in 2006; 2011Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Crystal Pite’s stunningly accomplished work Dark Matters; and Doug Elkins’ insightful and hilarious Fräulein Maria, first performed at the Pillow in 2009.

At The School at Jacob’s Pillow, faculty includes an extraordinary range of master artists: Michael Corder formerly of the Royal Ballet; Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Ariel Freedman of Batsheva Dance Company; Jose Manuel Carreño, recently retired from American Ballet Theatre; Cynthia Harvey, former star of The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre; tap legend Dianne Walker; and many others.

While the Festival is a centerpiece of the 80th Anniversary Year, programming takes place year-round. Throughout the year, new additions are constantly contributed to Virtual Pillow, an ever-growing online collection including PillowTalks, educational resources, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, and contemporary and archival dance videos, which have amassed more than 800,000 views to date worldwide. Artist residencies bring the innovative Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion® program to schools, using movement to advance and enhance classroom learning for students and teachers. Visiting scholars and fellows from around the world use the Jacob’s Pillow Archives as a vast and unique resource for significant dance research. Year-round Creative Development Residencies support artists as they create new work in the Pillow’s retreat-like setting; these new works often premiere at the Pillow. On March 24 and 25, the Pillow and MASS MoCA will co-present Australian contemporary company Chunky Move in their newest production, Connected.

A signal Anniversary celebration includes the release of Never Stand Still, a feature-length documentary about dance, dancers, and Jacob’s Pillow by award-winning director Ron Honsa, narrated by Bill T. Jones. The film will make its New York City premiere at the 2012 Dance on Camera Festival on January 27. Additional screenings and release dates to be announced.


80th Anniversary Season Opening Gala

Saturday, June 16

 The 80th Anniversary Season Opening Gala kicks off Festival 2012 with style and glamour. In honor of the occasion a world premiere by acclaimed British choreographer Michael Corder, former Royal Ballet principal dancer and Director of Dance at English National Ballet School, will be created, rehearsed in just four days, and performed by dancers of the Ballet Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow. An exclusive program of performances will also feature CIRCA, a captivating movement and circus arts company from Australia, along with other Gala artists to be announced. The 2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award will be presented to an exceptional artist, and will be announced this spring. Dinner, dancing to live music, and a live auction on the Pillow’s Great Lawn follow. The 80th Anniversary Season Opening Gala is a benefit event; funds raised support the artistic and educational programs of Jacob’s Pillow, a not-for-profit organization.


Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, June 20 – Saturday, June 23, 8pm

Saturday, June 23 & Sunday, June 24, 2pm



Mimulus blends Brazilian social dance with contemporary choreography and imaginative visual design, under the artistic direction of Jomar Mesquita. The company made its U.S. debut at Jacob’s Pillow in 2007, prompting Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times to write “Mesquita and his Mimulus dance company ought to be bottled and sold as elixir.” Mimulus opens the 80th Anniversary Festival with the U.S. premiere of Por Um Fio (By a Thread). Por Um Fio is a fascinating, energetic tribute to Arthur Bispo do Rosário, an outsider artist who became well known in the contemporary visual art world after his death in 1989. Bispo do Rosário spent much of his life in a Brazilian asylum devoid of social contact, where he created art by embroidering and transforming found objects such as garments, sheets, sashes, and other materials. Mesquita uses the artist’s work and life as inspiration to play with light and shadow, control and disorder, madness and memory while dancers interact with an ingenious graffiti-adorned set of fabric, lights, wire, and thread. The dancers’ exchanges with one another are spectacular, as Mesquita and his company display their mastery of inventive partnering, spins, and lifts.



Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, June 20 – Saturday, June 23, 8:15pm

Saturday, June 23 & Sunday, June 24, 2:15pm



Following an excerpt performance as part of the 80th Anniversary Season Opening Gala, Circa, a circus-arts company from Australia, opens the Doris Duke Theatre with its eponymous full evening program. In CIRCA, seven performers present daredevil acrobatics, aerial work, physical theatre, and astonishing, evocative contemporary movement. Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz has directed numerous cross-genre productions including opera, theatre, physical theatre, and circus; the company has toured across Australia, Europe, and South America. Lyn Gardner of The Guardian (U.K.) calls CIRCA something extraordinary. It’s breathtaking, beautiful and sexy… But Circa is also astonishingly moving, its story of human co-operation and frailty emerging through an acro-ballet.” The Belfast Telegraph declares the production a flying circus of dance and amazingly physical theatre.”



Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, June 27 – Saturday, June 30, 8pm

Saturday, June 30 & Sunday, July 1, 2pm



Directed by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Lourdes Lopez and prominent Swedish choreographer, director, and dancer Pontus Lidberg, Morphoses makes its Pillow debut with a world premiere by Lidberg. A choreographer and dancer of international acclaim, Lidberg has danced with The Royal Swedish Ballet and Ballet du Grand Théatre de GeneÌ€ve and has created more than 30 choreographic works for The Royal Danish Ballet, The Beijing Dance Theater, his own group Pontus Lidberg Dance, and others. He is also well known for his award-winning 2007 dance film The Rain. His new work, set to premiere at the Pillow, is a creative expansion of his most recent dance film Labyrinth Within, which starred New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan, Giovanni Bucchieri, and Lidberg himself. Lidberg’s choreography is sweeping and sensual, and his visuals are striking and imaginative. The premiere will integrate the film along with new onstage choreography. David Lang, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and co-founder of Bang on a Can, composed the score.


Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM in Dark Matters

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, June 27 – Saturday, June 30, 8:15pm

Saturday, June 30 & Sunday, July 1, 2:15pm




Performed at Jacob’s Pillow in 2011, Dark Matters is the first of the 80th Anniversary “Back by Popular Demand” presentations. An audience and critical success, Dark Matters is a mystery thriller told in dance, as unseen forces are at work when a lonely artist creates a puppet with fateful results. The dancers of Kidd Pivot lure audiences into a fascinating world of puppetry, contemporary dance, theatre, fantasy, humor, and thrilling twists and turns, set to a compellingly ominous original score by Owen Belton. Crystal Pite was the 2011 recipient of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, and she is widely regarded as one of the most exceptional contemporary choreographers of today. Her company is based in both Vancouver and Frankfurt, where she danced for several years with William Forsythe. Pite has created work for Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballett Frankfurt, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (where she was Resident Choreographer 2001-2004), Ballet British Columbia, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and for her own company.


Vertigo Dance Company in Mana

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, July 4 – Saturday, July 7, 8pm

Saturday, July 7 & Sunday, July 8, 2pm


Vertigo Dance Company is one of Israel’s top contemporary dance troupes. They have performed internationally and received numerous awards in Israel and abroad. Founded in Jerusalem in 1992 by Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al, the company makes its Pillow debut with Mana, choreographed by Wertheim. Mana is a compelling exploration of contrast, energy, and transformation. The dance is packed with spiraling movement, symbolism, and the fluid athleticism that has become a hallmark of contemporary dance from Israel. Dancers leap into gravity-defying barrel turns, twist in off-kilter backbends, and reveal new ways of moving at every turn. A dramatic set and costume design places the dancers and audience in a faraway abstract world, where shadow, light, and mysterious doors both set boundaries and lead to escape routes. A vibrant score by composer Ran Bagno incorporates march and waltz rhythms into klezmer-like tones, adding to an atmosphere that The Jerusalem Post calls "intimate, soft and intensely powerful.” 


LeeSaar The Company

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, July 4 – Saturday, July 7, 8:15pm

Saturday, July 7 & Sunday, July 8, 2:15pm


Actress, director, and writer Lee Sher and dancer/choreographer Saar Harari founded their dance company in Israel in 2000. In 2004, they relocated to New York City where they have been intriguing critics and audiences and receiving numerous prestigious awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship. Rosyln Sulcas calls the company’s performers “never less than remarkable to watch” (The New York Times). In their newest dance theatre work FAME, an international ensemble of six dancers from Taiwan, South Korea, the United States, and Israel strive to reach moments of acclaim, viewed through pop culture filters and reference points. The lines between reality and perception are blurred as truths are told and secrets revealed through a physical and sensual dance language that is created by Sher and Harari.


Tero Saarinen Company in Borrowed Light

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, July 11 – Saturday, July 14, 8pm

Saturday, July 14 & Sunday, July 15, 2pm



Created by Finnish dancer and choreographer Tero Saarinen, Borrowed Light debuted in the U.S. at Jacob’s Pillow in 2006 to audience and critical acclaim. Inspired by the history, music, and dances of the Shakers, Borrowed Light is performed to a score of beautifully-powerful traditional Shaker hymns, performed live by the preeminent early music group The Boston Camerata. Saarinen does not attempt to re-create Shaker dances; instead he invents a language all his own by drawing on the sect’s traditions and culture. Dancers are dressed in flowing black costumes and don heavy boots as they twist, turn, and stomp in serious and ecstatic movement. The integration of lighting and set design by Mikki Kunttu along with music and dance culminate in a highly theatrical experience. Karen Campbell of The Boston Globe called Borrowed Light “a powerful, strikingly original evocation of communal devotion unlike anything this reviewer has experienced.”John Rockwell of The New York Times commented “The movements evoke religious austerity and ecstasy.” He also proclaimed, “considering the…deep Shaker tradition in this part of the country, Jacob’s Pillow is the ideal spot to see and hear this dance.” 

From the Horse’s Mouth: The Men Dancers

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, July 11 – Saturday, July 14, 8:15pm

Saturday, July 14 & Sunday, July 15, 2:15pm


Today’s most exceptional male dancers and choreographers pay homage to the Pillow’s pioneering founder Ted Shawn and his company of Men Dancers in this exclusive program, only to be seen at the Pillow. An extraordinary cast of approximately twenty outstanding dancers and choreographers of all ages and traditions will perform solos and share extraordinary personal stories with the audience. A rotating cast of performers will include Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell; tap superstar Jason Samuels Smith; Trent Kowalik, one of the original “Billy” performers in the musical Billy Elliot; master choreographer Lar Lubovitch; the sensational Lombard Twins; legendary former New York City Ballet principal Jock Soto; hoofer prodigy and choreographer Cartier Williams, and many others. Additional cast members to be announced.



The Hong Kong Ballet

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, July 18 – Saturday, July 21, 8pm

Saturday, July 21 & Sunday, July 22, 2pm


In a rare North American engagement, The Hong Kong Ballet makes its Pillow debut under the direction of Madeleine Onne, former Artistic Director of the Royal Swedish Ballet. The program is international in scope and style, displaying the dancers’ exquisite classical technique and contemporary vision. The company will perform the U.S. premiere of Kinsun Chan's contemporary ballet Black on Black. This arresting work explores the timelessness of the color black; striking costumes, staging, and lighting reflect the facets of its symbolism and multiple meanings. Black on Black is danced to “String Quartet No. 2, Op. 64 ‘Quasi Una Fantasia’by Polish composer Henryk Górecki. The program continues with the emotionally charged, sensual work Luminous, by Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz, danced to “Affairs of the Heartby composer Marjan Mozetich. Symphony in Three Movements, by Dutch choreographer Nils Christie, rounds out the evening out with an eponymous score by Igor Stravinsky, embodying the power and intensity of his acclaimed “war symphony.”


Luna Negra Dance Theater

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, July 18 – Saturday, July 21, 8:15pm

Saturday, July 21 & Sunday, July 22, 2:15pm


Luna Negra Dance Theater produces a unique contemporary movement style with elements of Latino culture, serving as a platform for contemporary Latino choreographers. The company’s first Pillow engagement is a varied program that includes the work of up-and-coming Latino dancemakers. Bate, by choreographer Fernando Melo, was inspired by the melodrama of Brazilian soap operas and the masculine side of Samba; the work plays with male bravado and vulnerability. Spanish choreographer Fernando Hernando Magadan originally created Naked Ape for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2009. This exploration of the need for physical interaction in a technological age combines fierce dancing, multimedia effects, and music by jazz trumpet player Erik Truffaz, Mexican electronica recording artist Murcof, Johann Sebastian Bach, and instrumental duo Jónsi & Alex.






Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in Story/Time

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, July 25 – Saturday, July 28, 8pm

Saturday, July 28 & Sunday, July 29, 2pm


Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 30 countries on every major continent. Today, the company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the contemporary dance world. Director and choreographer Bill T. Jones--whose major honors include a MacArthur "Genius" Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, two Tony Awards for Best Choreography, and the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award--returns to the stage with his company in Story/Time. Inspired by artist and composer John Cage's Indeterminacy, Jones creates a performance experience with a complete landscape of dance, music, and narrative that is arranged anew for each performance by chance procedure. Story/Time explores the inexorable passage of time and our memory of it, as Jones engages audiences in the art storytelling while surrounded by his renowned dancers and choreography. Original music composed by Ted Coffey will accompany this new work.


Jessica Lang Dance

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, July 25 – Saturday, July 28, 8:15pm

Saturday, July 28 & Sunday, July 29, 2:15pm



A former member of Twyla Tharp’s company THARP!, Jessica Lang is known for her artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary ballets. She has created more than 75 works for companies including The Joffrey Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ailey II, and ABT II, among others. Lang recently founded her own ensemble, Jessica Lang Dance, and her Pillow program marks the first full-evening engagement for the company. A varied program chock-full of variety shows Lang as a prolific dance maker, and will include the duet Among the Stars, called an “exquisite lyrical performance filled with sensual chemistry” (Marilee Vergati, Dallas Dance Examiner); the dramatic and rigorously structured work Lines Squared; and The Calling (from Splendid Isolation III), a gorgeous female solo set to the music of Gustav Mahler; among other works.





Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 1 – Saturday, August 4, 8pm

Saturday, August 4 & Sunday, August 5, 2pm



Under the artistic direction of André Lewis, versatility, technical excellence, and captivating style are hallmarks of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, returning for the first time to the site of its historic 1964 U.S. debut. The company will perform Argentinean choreographer Mauricio Wainrot’s contemporary Carmina Burana, a feast for the senses set to Carl Orff’s famous score. The full-company work is packed with visual drama and theatricality, and Wainrot’s choreography is strong, passionate, and full of lush lyricism. The program also features Peter Quanz’s In Tandem, deliciously matched with composer Steve Reich’s “Double Sextet; Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times describes it as “full of social charm and fleeting suggestions of social and love relationships.” Founded in 1939, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the longest continually operating ballet company in North America. In 1953, the Company received its royal title, the first granted under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Jonah Bokaer x David Hallberg

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, August 1 – Saturday, August 4, 8:15pm

Saturday, August 4 & Sunday, August 5, 2:15pm




Two of today’s most astonishing performers, internationally-acclaimed artists from diverse contemporary and ballet dance backgrounds, come together in this U.S. premiere engagement. In their first collaborative program, Jonah Bokaer and David Hallberg will perform contemporary choreography by Bokaer in the Pillow’s intimate 230-seat Doris Duke Theatre. Bokaer is a gifted performer, choreographer, and media artist; “contemporary dance’s renaissance man” according to Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times. A former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, he has for several years created his own critically acclaimed work and has collaborated with some of today’s most respected artists including writer Ann Carson and theater director Robert Wilson. David Hallberg, a super star of ballet, is lauded as one of the finest male ballet dancers of the century. He is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and recently made history as the first American to join the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet. Both artists have performed at the Pillow independently: Bokaer in a week-long engagement of his own company in 2011 and Hallberg as a guest star with Jacoby & Pronk in 2010.



Trey McIntyre Project

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 8 – Saturday, August 11, 8pm

Saturday, August 11 & Sunday, August 12, 2pm


A relatively young dance company with an ever-growing following, Trey McIntyre Project was invited to Jacob’s Pillow in 2005 to debut as a pickup company. TMP returned to perform in the Ted Shawn Theatre in 2006, made its fulltime company debut in 2008, and returned again in 2010. Known for emotional authenticity, a fresh blend of ballet and contemporary choreography, and musicality, McIntyre’s dances connect with audiences and have made him “one of the hottest choreographers in the dance world” (The Boston Globe). The company performs Leatherwing Bat, which premiered at the Pillow in 2008, with music by the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary; Blue Until June set to the soulful music of Etta James including “At Last,” “One for My Baby,” and “Something’s Got a Hold on Me;” and a new work based on Marlo Thomas’ 1970s seminal television and audio series Free to Be…You and Me.


Dance Heginbotham

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, August 8 – Saturday, August 11, 8:15pm

Saturday, August 11 & Sunday, August 12, 2:15pm


Acclaimed dancer and choreographer John Heginbotham has performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group for the past 14 years. More recently, he has ventured out with his own choreographic work and group of dancers, quickly becoming an emerging choreographer to watch. As a performer “Heginbotham has always been a wonder at the tricky combination of class clown/poet — the truth-telling jester” (Janine Parker, Boston Phoenix). These qualities are also found in his winning choreography, performed by a lively ensemble of dancers. His Pillow program includes Closing Bell, a delightfully comic, intelligent, “brain teaser” of a dance, set to excerpts from “Central Market” by experimental composer Tyondai Braxton. Additional works to be announced.


Compagnie Käfig

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 15 – Saturday, August 18, 8pm

Saturday, August 18– Sunday, August 19, 2pm



Artistic Director of Compagnie Käig, Mourad Merzouki, is at the forefront of the international hip-hop world. An encounter between the Lyon-based Merzouki and 11 young men―all self-taught dancers from Rio de Janeiro―generated two new dance works, Correria and Agwa. The Brazilian dancers’ individual stories about their lives in the favelas (Brazilian shanty towns) and their determination to make something of themselves inspired Merzouki to create a sensational program showcasing the dancers astonishing acrobatic skills and movement virtuosity, as well as their irresistible personality and spirit. The result is a life-affirming smart combination of athletic samba, hip-hop, and capoeira dance styles, as well as bossa nova and electronic music.


Liz Gerring Dance Company

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, August 15 – Saturday, August 18, 8:15pm

Saturday, August 18 & Sunday, August 19, 2:15pm


Liz Gerring’s newest work, she dreams in code, is an evening-length dance for six intensely focused and highly appealing performers, featuring an engaging electronic score by Gerring’s longtime collaborator, composer Michael J. Schumacher. In this athletic, physically challenging, and poetic work, Gerring creates a compelling dance that crisscrosses space and time. Following the October 2011 premiere of she dreams in code, Susan Yung of Dance Magazine commented, "Gerring relishes full-out movement and athleticism;” Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times raved, “The amalgam of formality and informality, of technique and rawness (sometimes wildness) in the work of the choreographer Liz Gerring is something rare.”


A Jazz Happening

Sunday, August 19, 8pm

Benefit Event for The School at Jacob’s Pillow


This popular annual benefit for The School at Jacob’s Pillow is a one-night-only event featuring Broadway guest stars performing alongside the students of the Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program culminating three weeks of intense study and preparation. Directed by Chet Walker of Fosse fame, A Jazz Happening features original choreography by faculty and live music by an onstage jazz band. Past performances have included song and dance numbers from Fosse, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Company, and the work of seminal film and stage choreographer Jack Cole, who was also one Ted Shawn’s dancers. This year’s event will feature an all-new program and cast. Proceeds benefit The School at Jacob’s Pillow.

The Joffrey Ballet

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 22 – Saturday, August 25, 8pm