With only two weeks remaining in the 80th Anniversary Festival, Jacob’s Pillow presents Compagnie Käfig, a dynamic ensemble of hip-hop dancers from Brazil led by Artistic Director and internationally acclaimed choreographer Mourad Merzouki. Performing August 15–19, 2012 in the Ted Shawn Theatre, the company performs a program of two virtuosic works, Correria and Agwa, both packed with athleticism, artistry, and drama.
Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times comments “One of the most prominent of the many French hip-hop troupes to emerge over the last two decades is the Lyon-based Compagnie Käfig, founded by Mourad Merzouki in 1996…For two new pieces, though, he has collaborated with a group of dancers from Rio de Janeiro; Correria and Agwa are inspired by their stories of growing up in favelas, and the choreography incorporates elements of athletic samba and capoeira. It’s a potentially fascinating cultural exchange.”
A major figure on the hip-hop scene since the early 1990s, choreographer Mourad Merzouki works at the junction of many different movement disciplines, fusing circus and martial arts, fine arts, and music with a continuous exploration of all hip-hop styles. He is known for opening up new outlooks in dance, while honoring the hip-hop movement’s roots and its social and geographical origins.
Merzouki’s training is rooted in the circus school in St. Priest, France, located in Lyon’s eastern suburbs, which he attended from the age of seven while also training in karate and boxing. He started learning hip-hop when he was 15; he began dancing in the street before working with choreographer Kader Attou, who would remain his associate from 1990–1994. During that time he was also worked with contemporary choreographers including Jean-François Duroure and Josef Nadj. Merzouki’s first fully independent work, KÄFIG, was performed at the Rencontres Urbaines de la Villette in Paris. Käfig, which means “cage” in Arabic and German, later became the name of the company.
Dancers in Compagnie Käfig vary based on current repertoire. The company made its Jacob’s Pillow debut in 2001 with Dix Versions, with dancers mostly of Algerian and North African descent. Of that performance, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times called Compagnie Käfig “One of the most innovative troupes on the experimental dance scene… The Pillow gave it the wider exposure it deserves.”
Since 1996, 17 of Merzouki’s dance works have been performed in more than 600 cities. In the past 16 years, Compagnie Käfig has given over 2,150 performances in 61 countries for more than 1 million people. Merzouki is often invited to collaborate with other artists in France and abroad, contributing to the international reputation of hip-hop dance and his own company.
Merzouki created Agwa in 2008 after meeting a group of young street dancers from Rio de Janeiro. He comments, “I have been introduced to Brazilian dancers by Guy Darmet, who used to be the Director of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, and lives between France and Brazil. He knew these dancers very well and as he has been following me for more than twenty years, he asked me to create a piece for them. These young dancers, mostly from Rio’s favelas, were dancing to express themselves, to exist, to survive… the rhythm and the passion is really present within them. It really fascinated me and I decided to create the piece Agwa for them. The 11 dancers who were part of the two first pieces are still [performing] today, we didn’t change the cast.”
In addition to virtuosic hip-hop choreography, acrobatics, and samba- and capoeria-influenced dance, Agwa also addresses the ecological and political connections of water. Dancers use hundreds of small cups in each performance to employ and transfer water onstage. “Aquatic, as its name indicates, this piece for eleven dancers is ecological and political in nature, but also poetic and organic, cascading from one aspect of the question of water to another” (Le Monde,France).
Following the success of Agwa, Merzouki worked with the same group of dancers from Brazil to create Correria in 2010. Athletic and acrobatic, Correria is a stylized endurance piece that lunges into a whirlwind of the frenzied modern world.Merzouki again worked with the lighting designer and musical arranger from Agwa, Yoann Tivoli, and French hip-hop music artist AS’N. A video projection by Charles Carcopino mirrors bodies running on stage vs. screen, and humor and wit are interlaced with flips, spins, and joyous choreography.
ABOUT MOURAD MERZOUKI
Born in Lyon, France, in 1973, Merzouki started learning martial arts and circus skills at age seven. At 15, he discovered hip-hop and began exploring the world of dance, orienting his hip-hop style towards more professional horizons and testing himself in other dance styles, notably with Maryse Delente, Jean-François Duroure, and Josef Nadj. With this experience came the urge to undertake his own artistic projects, mixing hip-hop with what he had learned about the performing arts.
He created the Accrorap company, with other dancers, in 1989. In 1994 the company performed ATHINA, at the Lyon Biennale de la Danse and was acclaimed for taking hip-hop from the street to the stage without losing of its true identity. The troupe’s first international performance took them to refugee camps in Croatia, where they learned that dance can be a potent means of communication in extreme situations.
In 1996, Merzouki created his own company, Käfig. In May 2004, he received the award for Best Young Choreographer at the International Dance Festival in Wolfsburg, Germany. Other winners included Maurice Béjart, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Tero Saarinen. In July that same year, Merzouki was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the Minister of Culture and Communications. In 2006, Merzouki received the SACD’s New Dance Talent Award. In 2008, he received the Créateurs sans Frontières Award (Creators without Borders) from Bernard Kouchner, France’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs; the award singles out artists and cultural personalities who have had an impact on the international arts scene. In 2008, Merzouki joined the Board of Directors of the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, France, for a three-year term and in 2009 he was appointed as Director of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil/Val-de-Marne.
Performance and Ticket Information
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, August 15 through Saturday August 18 at 8pm
Saturday August 18 and Sunday August 19 at 2pm
- Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before every performance.
- A Post-Show Talk with Compagnie Käfig and a Pillow Scholar will take place onstage on Friday, August 17.
- Tickets $39-64. $35 Under 35 Tickets are available for all Käfig performances (ages 18–35), two per person, must show I.D. when picking up tickets. $10 Youth Tickets, sponsored by ALEX®, are available for Friday, August 17 at 8pm and Saturday August 18 at 2pm (must be accompanied by an adult ticket).
- Now on sale online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office. $35 Under 35 and Youth Tickets are not available online, phone and in person only.
- Box Office hours: Monday and Tuesday, 10am–6pm, Wednesday through Saturday 10am–8pm, and Sunday 11am–5pm.
- · Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theatres are handicapped-accessible.
ALSO THIS WEEK, AUGUST 15–19
Free Inside/Out Performance: DanceSpora
Wednesday, August 15, 6:15pm
This contemporary dance-theatre company presents dynamic, progressive works. for tranquility’s sake is a striking quartet in which the dancers, tied together with rope, perform to music by Philip Glass. Crossing Waters, a haunting, powerful work, was inspired by those who survived the middle passage en route to the Americas, and displayed the perseverance necessary to overcome incredible challenges. FREE
Free Inside/Out Performance: Gabrielle Lamb and Dancers
Thursday, August 16, 6:15pm
A former dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, winner of the National Choreographic Competition at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and currently a performer with Festival 2012 company Morphoses, Gabrielle Lamb uses her interpretive powers to embody all varieties of dance characters. Her company performs Two Fold, a duet inspired by the closeness experienced by conjoined twins, and a new work featuring music by Bill Frisell. FREE
Free PillowTalk: A Chance to Dance
Friday, August 17, 5pm
The August 17 premiere of A Chance to Dance, a new dance reality television series on the Ovation network provides an opportunity to examine dance TV phenomena like So You Think You Can Dance with their creators. FREE
Free Inside/Out Performance: Molissa Fenley and Dancers
Friday, August 17, 6:15pm
Celebrated choreographer Molissa Fenley brings together a variety of props, her signature angled movement style, and the music of John Cage in Credo in Us, recently performed in New York City to rave reviews. The Vessel Stories, set to Philip Glass’s “String Quartet No. 4 (Buczak)” and reminiscent of “a garden party at night, under a windy, star-swept sky” (The New York Times), is a work in three parts created in homage to visual artist Brian Buczak. FREE
Free PillowTalk: Remembering Blake Champion
Saturday, August 18, 4pm
The inspiration for Blake’s Barn, Blake Champion (1962–1987) was the son of famous dancing team Marge and Gower Champion. In this PillowTalk, Berkshire resident Marge Champion will join others in remembering a remarkable young dancer. FREE
Free Inside/Out Performance: The School at Jacob’s Pillow Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program
Saturday, August 18, 6:15pm
Concluding three weeks of study with Program Director Chet Walker, Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program students perform new works created on them by Walker and Broadway guest choreographer AC Ciulla, in anticipation of performing inA Jazz Happening, an all-new Broadway revue to benefit The School at Jacob’s Pillow on Sunday, August 19. FREE
Sunday Film Event – Never Stand Still
Sunday, August 19, 4:30pm
NEW Festival Event
Winner of “Best Documentary” prizes at Dance Camera West and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, the dance film Never Stand Still has been screened at film festivals and theatres across the U.S. and Europe. This feature-length documentary about dance, filmed over many seasons at the Pillow, is directed by Ron Honsa, narrated by acclaimed choreographer Bill T. Jones, and includes performances and interviews with acclaimed dance artists including Suzanne Farrell, Paul Taylor, Judith Jamison, Merce Cunningham, Rasta Thomas, Shantala Shivalingappa, and many others. Tickets $10, available at jacobspillow.org and via phone 413.243.0745.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 of Ted Shawn’s dancers. This year’s event will feature an all-new program and cast. Tickets $60 & $100; proceeds benefit all programs of The School at Jacob’s Pillow.
FREE EXHIBITS—OPEN JUNE 20–AUGUST 26
Decades of Dance
Open Tues-Sun, noon to approx 10pm
From its inception in 1933 to the present day, Jacob’s Pillow has been home to extraordinary dance from around the world. In celebration of the Pillow’s 80th Anniversary Season, remarkable images from each decade are grouped thematically in a unique commemorative exhibition. Culled from the extensive Jacob’s Pillow Archives, this cornucopia of treasures includes a virtual Who’s Who of the dance world and features rare materials never before exhibited. FREE
Old / Pillow
Ted Shawn Theatre Lobby
Open 60 minutes before every Ted Shawn Theatre performance
New York photographer Toby Old has focused his lens on specific locations like Coney Island and Times Square, and explored themes such as fashion shows, nightclubs, and boxing matches. His Jacob’s Pillow visits over the past five years have yielded images that capture both the place and the people who enliven it. Some of these photographs were recently featured in a Paris gallery; this exhibit marks the first time they have been shown in the U.S. FREE
Ivan Chermayeff Designs
Doris Duke Theatre Lobby
Open 60 minutes before every Doris Duke Theatre performance
A celebrated designer, illustrator, and artist, Ivan Chermayeff has created familiarly iconic images for hundreds of prominent clients such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian and has won numerous awards. In 1955, with Tom Geismar, he co-founded the internationally-known New York City design firm Chermayeff & Geismar. Chermayeff’s designs for Jacob’s Pillow in the 1980s and 90s are still remembered for their bold vision and originality, and many are collected here for the first time. FREE
Open Tues–Sun, noon to approx 9pm
When President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to Jacob’s Pillow at the White House last year, the Pillow became the first dance presenting organization ever to receive this
distinction. The medal itself and the signed presidential proclamation are on display in this exhibit along with some of the other awards received by the Pillow and its founder, Ted Shawn, including the Capezio Award, the Commonwealth Award, Shawn’s medal from the King of Denmark, and other treasures. FREE
Anniversary Highlights, Part 2
Open to the public whenever classes or rehearsals are not in session
Photos from past Pillow seasons traditionally line the Bakalar Studio walls, and the current 80th Anniversary Festival offers a special opportunity to look back at memorable images from the Festival’s history. FREE
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Archives
Open Tues–Sun, noon to approx 9pm
This informal library and reading room allows impromptu visitors to view videos, browse through books, access the Pillow’s computer catalog, or peruse permanent collections of Pillow programs and photographs. Pillow Interactive, the popular touch-screen kiosk, provides instant access to rare film clips ranging from the present-day back to the 1930s, and the Dance Heritage Coalition’s new Secure Media Network features videos from other archives throughout the country. FREE
Jacob’s Pillow, celebrating its 80th Anniversary Festival in 2012, is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest running international dance festival. The Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 300 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, exhibits, and events. The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S., encompasses the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance, as well as an Intern Program in various departments of arts administration and production. The Pillow’s extensive Archives, open year-round to the public, chronicle more than 80 years of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and video. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and more than 200 free public events. Through Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®, a nationally-recognized program, artist-educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12, transforming existing curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; choreography commissions; and the annual $25,000 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award all support visionary dance artists and choreographers. Virtual Pillow is aimed at expanding global audiences for dance and offers the opportunity to experience dance and Jacob’s Pillow from anywhere in the world via online interactive exhibits, global video networks, and mobile social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1936 to today. On March 2, 2011, President Obama honored Jacob’s Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government. Jacob’s Pillow is the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award. For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org.