Each June dancers, choreographers and donors get together to celebrate Jacob’s Pillow, and to raise a pile of money towards its ongoing needs. This year, the Inside-Out stage, where hundreds of free performances take place is being refurbished. They need $100,000 to do it.
So Jacob’s Pillow kicks off its Festival 2010 on June 19 with another Season Opening Gala, one that promises to eclipse even the most memorable galas of the past. Extraordinary performances in the Ted Shawn Theatre will be followed by the presentation of the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award to choreographer and director Bill T. Jones.
Then guests will be treated to dinner and dancing to live music. This evening is widely celebrated as a signature summer event in the Berkshires and attracts a multitude of dance lovers, celebrities, government dignitaries, and visitors from around the world.
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Executive Director Ella Baff comments: “Superlatives are in order. This year’s Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, Bill T. Jones, is among the most brilliant, prolific, innovative artists of our time.
“He is a master of all realms, from creating work for his own dance company and for other companies around the world to the recent announcement of eleven Tony Award nominations for FELA! He is a national treasure and the Pillow is proud to honor him at our Season Opening Gala.”
The Gala begins at 6pm with an exclusive mixed bill performance in the Ted Shawn Theatre.
An Evening of Dancing Stars
It is an evening in which many stars will shine, perhaps none brighter than festival artist Nina Ananiashvili, of whom Alastair Macaulay wrote: “Other ballerinas are no less admired, but she, singularly endearing, is singularly cherished.”
The legend, who retired from ABT just a year ago, performs the iconic solo The Dying Swan. The signature role of Russian ballet legend Anna Pavlova, The Dying Swan was choreographed for Pavlova in 1905 by Mikhail Fokine.
“The Dying Swan is not about a woman impersonating a bird,” says Allegra Kent, former Balanchine ballerina, in an article for The New York Times, “it’s about the fragility of life – all life – and the passion with which we hold on to it.”
Each dancer puts their own imprint on the work.
Ananiashvili will perform to live music by master Israeli cellist Yehuda Hanani.
In a blend of technique and artistry, there is unlikely to be a dry eye in the house as this solo is alternately elegant, tragic, desperate and beautiful.
But Wait, There’s More!
Three Creative Development Residency artists who created work at Jacob’s Pillow this past year are also featured on the Gala program.
These are both contemporary and high energy as befits a gala evening of dance.
Dancer/choreographer Kyle Abraham will performs his whirlwind 2006 contemporary solo Inventing Pookie Jenkins.
The dance is a take on teen-age masculine bravado inspired by his days in high school.
The piece has its surprises, and he dances part of the work wearing “a really big tutu,” he says.
Also on the program is Camille A. Brown, called “a pixie-ish powerhouse” by The San Francisco Chronicle,
She will debut a new duet. Since it is still being worked on, there are no details yet, just some speculation.
Also raising anticipation – and for very good reason – is the appearance of Monica Bill Barnes & Company at the Gala.
They will perform high-energy excerpts from Another Parade, which begins with the music of Bach but soon morphs into a James Brown-flavored danceoff by four women in sensible clothes finding their inner ferocity. Smart, contemporary, very tongue in cheek, it will leave the Gala crowd in very good spirits.
The students of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program will perform a world premiere choreographed on them in just four days by acclaimed contemporary ballet artist Karole Armitage (earlier story here), set to a musical score by Boston-based composer Christine Southworth.
Films honoring Bill T. Jones and a new film montage from the Pillow Archives will be premiered. Ella Baff will personally present the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award to Bill T. Jones.
Following the performance, guests will enjoy dinner and dancing under the festive Gala tent on the Pillow’s Great Lawn, with live music by The E-Water Band.
A live auction will kick off the Pillow’s $100,000 “Save the Inside/Out Stage” public fundraising effort. A silent auction to benefit The School at Jacob’s Pillow, as well as the Pillow’s community enrichment programs, includes fine art photography by noted artists, an original print by Jules Feiffer, unique travel packages, and much more.
The 2010 Season Opening Gala is chaired by Helice Picheny and Hunter K. Runnette. Individual tickets are $350-$750 and tables of eight are available for purchase from $2,800-$6,000. Call 413.243.9919 x126 for more information and to purchase tickets. All proceeds directly support the Festival, School, Archives, and Community Programs of Jacob’s Pillow.
About the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award: The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award was created in 2007 with an ongoing, annual anonymous gift of $50,000, of which $25,000 is given to an artist of exceptional vision. In addition to the cash award, the honoree receives a custom-designed glass sculpture by Berkshire-based artist Tom Patti, whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other prominent collections worldwide. In 2007, the inaugural Award was given to Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, co-directors of Big Dance Theater. In 2008, Alonzo King, Artistic Director of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, was honored and in 2009 the Award was given to Merce Cunningham, whose company gave its final performances during his lifetime at Jacob’s Pillow.
The other $25,000 of the annual gift supports Jacob’s Pillow commissions, presentations, and the Creative Development Residency Program, which has supported Festival 2010 artists Monica Bill Barnes, Kyle Abraham, and Camille A. Brown, all of whom will perform at the June 19 Gala.
The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award emphasizes the Pillow’s commitment to support choreographers at various stages of their careers, and to support the creation of new work through the Pillow’s Creative Development Residency Program. During these 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.
About The Pillow
Jacob’s Pillow celebrates its 78th anniversary in 2010 and is home to a renowned international dance Festival, presenting and commissioning works of artists and companies from throughout the world. The School at Jacob’s Pillow encompasses a professional training program in the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Tap, Contemporary Traditions, Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance, and a Choreographers Lab, as well as an Intern Program in arts administration and production. The Pillow’s extensive Archives, open year-round to the public free of charge, chronicle more than a century of the often ephemeral art form of dance in photos, print, video, and more. Jacob’s Pillow’s year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults including Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum-in-Motion® a nationally-recognized program for educational settings, and the Creative Development Residency and commissioning programs support artists as they create work. In 2003, Jacob’s Pillow was declared a National Historic Landmark and is the first and only dance entity in the U.S. to achieve this honor.
Making it Possible: you and a few friends.
As of March 2010, major support for Jacob’s Pillow has been provided by: Asian Cultural Council; The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The Cricket Foundation; the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Frances Alexander Family Fund; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, Inc.; The Leir Charitable Foundations, In Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation; National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts; Leading for the Future Initiative, a program of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, Inc.; The Prospect Hill Foundation; Royal Danish Ballet; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Matching Gifts Program; The Roxe Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Trust for Mutual Understanding; The Walbridge Fund, Ltd.; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; MassDevelopment; Mass Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; Save America’s Treasures; CEC ArtsLink and the Open World Leadership Center; ALEX®; The Legacy Banks Foundation; Pilgrim Inn; Quality Inn; Rodeway Inn; Super 8 Motel Lee; Jacob’s Pillow Business Alliance; and Jacob’s Pillow Members.
Major endowment support is provided by The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Leir Charitable Foundations, In Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Onota Foundation; The Prospect Hill Foundation; Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Surdna Foundation; and Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.