Jacob’s Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA co-present world-renowned contemporary ballet ensemble Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal March 2-3 at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for the Performing Arts. The Montréal-based dance company blends a variety of dance styles, influences, and music in three diverse works by prominent, international choreographers: Wen Wei Wang of Canada, Spain’s Cayetano Soto, and Israeli-American dancemaker Barak Marshall. This co-presentation coincides with the final month of MASS MoCA’s Oh, Canada exhibit, the largest survey of Canadian contemporary art ever produced outside of Canada.
Under the artistic direction of Louis Robitaille, the dancers of Ballets Jazz successfully bridge contemporary innovation with classical training and technique. With sleek, highly-skilled performers and a wide-ranging repertory, the company is known for its distinctive, theatrical style that engages a broad audience. Founded in 1973, Ballets Jazz is celebrating its 40th anniversary season. This engagement marks the company’s first return visit to western Massachusetts since its appearance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2010.
Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff comments, “It’s a perfect match for the Pillow and MASS MoCA to bring a major dance company, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, to complement an unprecedented exhibit, Oh, Canada. I think audiences will be very excited to see dance and visual art from our neighbor to the north. And did I mention that the dancers are sensational?”
The program includes three diverse works by acclaimed international choreographers. Choreographer Wen Wei Wang was born in China and now resides and works in Canada. His high-voltage, provocative work, Night Box, combines contemporary ballet with street dance to express the love, loss, sensuality, and joy of urban nightlife. Michael Crabb of The National Post calls the work a “fascinating imaginary world of burgeoning manhood and confused desire…It’s all brilliantly theatrical, in turns witty, poignant.” Set to a score by composer Philip Glass, Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto’s powerful duet Zero In On creates a fresh take on the traditional pas de deux form and ”subverts beauty to convey something else” (Rebecca Ritzel of The Washington Post). Harry, a work by Israeli-born, Los Angeles-based choreographer Barak Marshall, concludes the program. This theatrical, energetic take on the complexities of human dynamics and conflict features an eclectic score ranging from Israeli folk songs to Balkan Beatbox to The Andrews Sisters. Marshall served as house choreographer for Batsheva Dance Ensemble in Israel from 1999 to 2001. His company made its U.S. debut at Jacob’s Pillow with his full-evening MONGER at the 2010 Festival.
The related MASS MoCA exhibit, Oh Canada, features works by more than 60 Canadian artists who hail from every province and nearly every territory in the country, spanning multiple generations and working in all media. MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish spent three years traveling across Canada to view hundreds of exhibitions in museums and galleries, visiting over 400 artists’ studios, and making connections with a full range of artists working today. Visitors who see both the Les Ballets Jazz performance and Oh, Canada exhibit can expect to walk away with a wide-ranging snapshot of the Canadian contemporary performing and visual arts landscapes.
Audiences can continue their exploration of Canadian dance companies during the 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. From July 17-21, Ballet BC, one of today’s leading contemporary ballet companies from Vancouver, British Columbia, performs a program of contemporary works set to the music of Mozart, Puccini, Rodgers & Hart, and John Zorn. From August 7-11, Montréal-based O Vertigo Danse performs La Vie Qui Bat, a powerful, award-winning work danced to Steve Reich’s “Drumming,” performed live by the Quebec Contemporary Music Society. From August 14-18, La Otra Orilla of Montréal will present an evening of contemporary flamenco dance, video art, and evocative live music.
Through the financial support of the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA have co-presented performing arts programming since the museum was founded in 1999. In the spirit of deep collaboration, this partnership creates opportunities for visual and performing artists by encouraging cross-disciplinary experimentation; cultivates new dance audiences in the Berkshires by presenting innovative, high-quality performances; and expands the public’s understanding of the creative process. Past co-presentations include Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, STREB, MOMIX, DanceBrazil, Stephen Petronio Company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Armitage Gone! Dance, Cuba’s Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, and Chunky Move.
Performance and Ticket Information:
Saturday, March 2 at 8pm and Sunday March 3 at 3pm; Hunter Center at MASS MoCA. Galleries are open until 7:30pm on Saturday, March 2. On Sunday, March 3, the galleries are open from 11am-5pm.
Ticket prices: $39 premium / $29 orchestra / $25 mezzanine / $10 children under 16
MASS MoCA is located at 87 Marshall Street, North Adams, MA 01247.
For additional information on Jacob’s Pillow and its 81st season, visit www.jacobspillow.org.
Jacob’s Pillow, celebrating its 81st Festival in 2013, 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 350 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 disciplines of arts administration, design, video, 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 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 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.
MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is one of the most active centers for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country and is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a restored 19th-century factory campus. MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 11 AM to 5 PM every day except Tuesdays. Gallery admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children 6-16, and free for children 5 and under. Members admitted free year-round. MASS MoCA is an independent 501(c)(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants. For additional information, call 413-662-2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.