Wendy Whelan to debut Restless Creature Aug 14-18
with Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo
Becket, MA – Following the 80th Anniversary Season’s record-breaking attendance encompassing more than 90,000 free and ticketed visitor experiences, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival makes two early announcements today regarding the 2013 season.
Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), the groundbreaking and newly revitalized classical and contemporary ballet company, will open the 2013 season in the Ted Shawn Theatre June 19-23. Led by founding member and former principal dancer Virginia Johnson, the company will present a range of classic and new work including George Balanchine’s Agon, The Lark Ascending by Alvin Ailey, andFar But Close by renowned contemporary choreographer John Alleyne. This engagement is particularly significant as DTH made its company debut at the Pillow in 1970.August 14-18, the Pillow will present the much-anticipated world premiere of Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature. This new evening of dance is created and performed by Whelan, a legendary New York City Ballet principal dancer, and four forward-thinking male dancer/choreographers: Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. Whelan will dance with each of the choreographers in four distinct and diverse duets.
“I’m particularly delighted that these two engagements are the first we announce of the 2013 Festival. Both began with separate conversations I had a few years ago with Virginia Johnson and Wendy Whelan about how artists and institutions regenerate and experiment. These two women, and the remarkable institutions with which they’ve long been associated, have already given audiences years of unforgettable performances. They are unstoppable pioneers who have always been willing to take risks,” comments Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director.
“Dance Theatre of Harlem made its first appearance as a company at Jacob’s Pillow in 1970.Opening the season with DTH is a major “welcome back” for us and for audiences, who will see where the “new” DTH is headed.
We are also thrilled to present and co-commission the world premiere of Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature. Wendy is among the most distinguished ballerinas in the world and continues to deliver remarkable performances with New York City Ballet. She now takes charge with an entire program of her own, collaborating with four very different and much talked about dancer/choreographers in their own right.”
Baff continues, “Great artists, new ideas, and the dancing will be spectacular. Much more to follow.”
Festival 2013 marks the Pillow’s 81st annual season, which kicks off June 15 with the Pillow’s Season Opening Gala. Wendy Whelan serves as Honorary Co-Chair for the 2013 Gala and will perform as part of the exclusive program. Dancers from Dance Theatre of Harlem will also perform on the Gala program, and dancers of the Ballet Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow will present a world premiere created by Helen Pickett, a former company member of William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet, recently appointed resident choreographer for the Atlanta Ballet. This signature fundraising event includes an exclusive performance, dinner, live music, and dancing. Additional performers will be announced in the coming months.
DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM, JUNE 19-23
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, former DTH prima ballerina, and Executive Director Laveen Naidu, the renewed Dance Theatre of Harlem has launched a national performance tour that will culminate in its weeklong engagement at Jacob’s Pillow.
The company of diverse dancers, many of whom trained and performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, will perform three neo-classical and contemporary ballet works that span multiple eras of American and dance history. George Balanchine’s Agon is a work for 12 dancers, and features an iconic pas de deux originally created for DTH founder Arthur Mitchell and ballerina Diana Adams as company members of New York City Ballet. Created in 1957, in collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky, Agon is one of Balanchine’s most notable ballets. In an article reflecting on Agon’s 50th anniversary, Alastair Macaulay of The New York Timescalled the work “astounding, full of shapes, phrases, rhythms, sounds that hadn’t been encountered before, but embodied New York modernism itself.”
Alvin Ailey’s The Lark Ascending (1972) is set to an eponymous score by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams created for violin and orchestra in 1920. While the music is inspired by the English countryside of Vaughan Williams’ youth, Ailey’s choreographic interpretation is a depiction of a young girl’s maturation to young womanhood. As part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts, DTH received a grant to help reconstruct The Lark Ascending for inclusion in the repertoire of its revived professional company. One of the most balletic of Ailey’s creations, DTH is the only company to perform the work sur les pointes.
Far But Close (2012) is a narrative work by Canadian choreographer John Alleyne, with text by award-winning actor, singer, and writer Daniel Beaty and music by composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain. In addition to commissioned works for major orchestras, Roumain has collaborated with Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones (with whom he performed at Jacob’s Pillow), Savion Glover, and Lady Gaga. Commissioned by DTH and based on a short spoken word play conceived and written by Beaty, this modern day ballet tells the story of a young man and woman who meet on the subway and their journey toward trust.
Arthur Mitchell made history in 1955 as the first African American member of the New York City Ballet. Following Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, he shifted his focus from his own career to the careers of young dancers of color. After leaving NYCB and founding the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, a professional company was soon established and made its official debut at Jacob’s Pillow in 1970. The company, comprised almost entirely of dancers of African descent, soon rose to ground-breaking prominence and performance level that was ranked with the major ballet companies of the world. After many years of success, DTH went on hiatus in 2004. Today, a revitalized Dance Theatre of Harlem offers a range of education, community engagement and audience development activities—and re-enters touring, the creation of new work, and a home season.
Festival Connections: Dance Theatre of Harlem made its company debut at Jacob’s Pillow in 1970, and returned in 1973 and 1997. Forty years after this auspicious debut, and as part of the revival of DTH, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble was invited to perform at the 2010 Festival in the Doris Duke Theatre. Virginia Johnson served as master faculty in The School at Jacob’s Pillow that same year and participated in a PillowTalk called “Virginia Johnson Returns.” In 2012, a special appearance by Arthur Mitchell closed each performance of The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth, created especially for the Pillow’s 80th Anniversary Season.
WENDY WHELAN/RESTLESS CREATURE, August 14-18
Hailed as “America’s greatest contemporary ballerina” by Claudia La Rocco of The New York Times, Wendy Whelan has danced with New York City Ballet for more than 25 years. She has mastered repertory that includes beloved classics such as Swan Lake, Balanchine’s neo-classical pieces, and contemporary works by some of the world’s greatest choreographers. Whelan has also performed as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet and has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Along with her ongoing work with New York City Ballet, Whelan has embarked on a new performance project that promises to show audiences new aspects of her artistry. This new evening of dance, titled Restless Creature, will have its world premiere at Jacob’s Pillow in the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 14-18.Whelan will collaborate with four of today’s most promising and innovative male choreographers, each with his own distinct choreographic voice and performance identity. Restless Creature will consist of a suite of four duets, created by and performed with Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. With four distinct dance vocabularies and styles, the program will offer a fascinating study of how Whelan adapts and interprets a variety of artists’ visions while amplifying her own vivid individuality.
Whelan comments, “Throughout my career, some of my most exciting moments have happened while I’m in the studio, creating new work with a great choreographer….This new project is a feast for the senses for me – the opportunity to work with four choreographers, each with a distinctive and strong vocabulary that is extremely different from my own. I can’t wait to get into the studio and explore some exciting territory.”
Kyle Abraham is a dancer, choreographer, Artistic Director of Abraham.in.Motion, and recipient of the 2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. He was honored with a 2010 Bessie Award and a Princess Grace Award for Choreography, and named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.”His work first appeared at Jacob’s Pillow in 2009 on the outdoor Inside/Out series.
Brian Brooks is the Artistic Director of Brian Brooks Moving Company, founded in 2002, which has toured throughout the United States, South Korea, and Europe. A well-known performer and choreographer, Brooks also served on faculty for Princeton University, Rutgers University, Barnard College, and the University of Maryland, among others.
Joshua Beamish, originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, is the Artistic Director of MOVE: the company, a contemporary dance ensemble based in Vancouver. Already a distinguished young choreographer, his company has performed at the International Ballet Festival in Miami, the Quinzenade Danca Almada Festival in Portugal, the WORLD EXPO in Shanghai, and the Bangkok International Festival for Dance.
Alejandro Cerrudo began his training in Madrid before dancing with a number of prestigious international companies including Victor Ullate Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater 2, and, since 2005, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2009, he became Hubbard Street’s firstresident choreographer and his works have been performed throughout the United States, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Australia, and at Jacob’s Pillow.
Festival Connections: Wendy Whelan made her Jacob’s Pillow debut in 1986 as a participant in The Choreography Project with Dancers from The New York City Ballet and returned as a member of the same group the following year. She last danced at the Pillow in 2004, with Peter Boal and Company, performing William Forsythe’s Herman Schmerman with Boal and appearing in Christopher Wheeldon’s Mesmerics with Boal and Benjamin Millepied. Kyle Abraham/Abraham.in.Motion has performed at Jacob’s Pillow in 2010 and in an exclusive mixed bill with Camille A. Brown and Dancers in 2011; Abraham received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award in 2012. In 2012, Joshua Beamish participated in The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth, created in honor of the Pillow’s 80th Anniversary Season. Alejandro Cerrudo performed at the Pillow with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in both 2007 and 2010, and the company performed the world premieres of two of his works Deep Down Dos and Blanco, in that most recent season.
Festival 2013 and tickets: The complete Jacob’s Pillow schedule will be announced in late December 2012.Tickets go on sale to Members and Subscribers beginning the week of January 28, 2013.Single tickets go on sale to the public in April 2013.Box Office:413.243.0745 and jacobspillow.org.