Street Dance Group FLEXN caps Jacob’s Pillow Festival 2016

FLEXN; photo Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Park Avenue Armory.

FLEXN; photo Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Park Avenue Armory.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival brings FLEXN, an electrifying street dance to the Ted Shawn Theatre stage, August 17-20, 2016. Created by flex dance pioneer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray with visionary theatre and opera director Peter Sellars, FLEXN confronts today’s complicated social justice issues by combining raw personal perspectives with powerful and provocative movement. In order to contextualize the topics addressed in the performance, the show will open with an onstage panel discussion with artists and community leaders debating the current socio-political climate and its impact on Berkshire County.

FLEXN uses storytelling through the thrilling flex dance genre to respond to contemporary issues of social justice. The flex form, characterized by pausing, snapping, gliding, hat tricks, ‘bone breaking’, animation, and contortion, evolved from the Jamaican bruk-up style made popular in Brooklyn reggae clubs. Pioneer of the style and director of the work, East Brooklyn native Gray’s far-reaching influence can be seen in both the concert and commercial dance spheres, including being featured on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Highly-esteemed international opera, theatre, and festival director Peter Sellars co-directs the work, weaving the personal stories of the cast into a striking narrative arc.

Featuring an ensemble of 16 “extraordinary movers” (Siobhan Burke, The New York Times), FLEXN is rooted in freestyle movement, creating unique, improvised work for each performance. The design team includes DJ Epic B who created a vibrant soundscape from a wide range of popular music and sounds from the Brooklyn street, costume designer Gabriel Berry, a long-time collaborator of Peter Sellars, and acclaimed lighting sculptor and designer Ben Zamora, whose work has been seen at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Art Basel/Design Miami.

The pre-show program will feature FLEXN artists, local political leaders, and community advocates who will engage in conversations on race, equity, and the school to prison pipeline. These panel conversations programmed in partnership with the NAACP Berkshire County Branch in collaboration with Dennis Powell, President, NAACP, Berkshire County Branch and Shirley Edgerton, Cultural Proficiency Advisor, Pittsfield Public Schools.

Performance and ticket information

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, August 17—Saturday, August 20, 8pm
Saturday, August 17, 2pm

Thanks to generous support from the Ford Foundation, $10 tickets are available to regional community groups that serve and support youth and young adults.

  • Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Nancy Wozny are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before each performance.
  • Free Post-Show Talk with artists from FLEXN will take place immediately following the 2pm performance on Saturday, August 11th and the 8pm performance on Friday, August 12th at the Ted Shawn Theatre.
  • Tickets start at $39. $10 Teen tickets available for all performances. Now on sale online at, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.
  • Box Office hours:  Wednesday- Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sun, noon-5pm; Tues, 11am-5pm

Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member, call 413.243.9919×125. 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 theaters are handicapped accessible.

Also performing at the Pillow this week
Pam Tanowitz Dance

August 17-20, Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2:15pm
Doris Duke Theatre

Pam Tanowitz Dance in a photo by Christopher Duggan.

Pam Tanowitz Dance in a photo by Christopher Duggan.

Hailed as “the wittiest choreographer since Mark Morris” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times), Pam Tanowitz has been creating dances since 1992 and is a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award and 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. Tanowitz brings her signature eccentricity, sharp energy, and unpredictable rhythms in a program including the striking Heaven on One’s Head (dubbed one of the Best Performances of 2014 by The New York Times) and the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces, a love letter to romantic ballets in an ultra-post-modern framework. Acclaimed New York City-based string quartet FLUX Quartet performs live for both works, alongside a commissioned electronic score by Dan Siegler. Tickets start at $25

Free Inside/Out Performance: Kilowatt Dance Theatre

Wednesday, August 17, 6:15pm

Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

Delightfully family-friendly, New York City-based Kilowatt Dance Theatre (formerly known as Hell’s Kitchen Kilowatts) returns to the Inside/Out series with their signature blend of high energy swing-era jazz dances such as Shag, Lindy Hop, and Charleston with a contemporary twist. FREE

Class with Inside/Out Artist: Site-Responsive Voice & Body with Elisabeth Motley
Thursday, August 18, 4pm
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

Dancer and choreographer Elisabeth Motley teaches a unique site-response voice and body class. Open to all experience levels, ages 12+; $10 per person. Pre-registration is required. Participants younger than 18 will require a parent’s signature on a liability waiver.

Free Inside/Out Performance: Elisabeth Motley/Motley Dance

Thursday, August 18, 6:15pm

Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

Brooklyn-based Elisabeth Motley/Motley Dance presents an embodied performance practice that explores light, pattern, mass and wave in Flinch. Created in collaboration with dancers Lea Fulton, Alvaro Gonzalez and Ariel Lembeck, with original sound score performed and created by electronic musician Zubin Hensler, the performers use improvisation and dialogue to create the movement. FREE

Free PillowTalk: The Art of Social Justice
Friday, August 19, 5pm
Blake’s Barn

Visionary director Peter Sellars teams up with dancer/choreographer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray to create this week’s production FLEXN in the Ted Shawn Theatre. In this PillowTalk, they discuss their approaches to art as social and moral action. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Loren, Royse & Co. in Spun
Friday, August 19, 6:15pm

Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

A blend of dance, physical comedy, and Cyr wheel, Spun follows a character and his ability to overcome his struggles with the help of others. The work is created by dancer, choreographer, and world champion for the U.S. in wheel gymnastics Courtney Giannone and current Broadway performer (Fiddler on the Roof) Jonathan Windham. FREE.

Free PillowTalk: Battling Inequality in the Arts
Saturday, August 20, 4pm

Charitable foundations are leading the way in supporting arts projects that reinforce the core values of fairness, tolerance, and inclusion. This PillowTalk examines and discusses these new strategies. FREE

Sunday Master Class with Festival Artist: Pam Tanowitz Dance

Sunday, August 21, 10am
Doris Duke Theatre

Festival artists from Pam Tanowitz Dance will teach a master class that is open to all intermediate and advanced dancers ages 16 and over. Pre-registration is required, call 413.243.9919 x5 the week of the class to register. Quiet observation is welcome; $15 per class or $80 for a 6-class card. Participants younger than 18 will require a parent’s signature on a liability waiver.

Free Inside/Out Performance: Musical Theatre Dance Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow

Saturday, August 20, 6:15pm

Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

The international students from the Musical Theatre Dance program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow perform repertory works to live music coached by program director, Tony Award winner, and Broadway veteran Chet Walker in preparation for the annual benefit for The School at Jacob’s Pillow, A Jazz Happening. FREE


Sunday, August 21, 5pm

Ted Shawn Theatre

Students of the Musical Theater Dance program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow perform in a show of dance and live music, directed by Program Director and Broadway artist Chet Walker. Tickets start at $25.

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