At Jacob’s Pillow: New Perles Family Studio building to break ground in October

On Saturday, August 27, Jacob’s Pillow Dance announced plans to build a new dance studio on the historic Jacob’s Pillow campus. The announcement was made by Director Pamela Tatge at the Pillow’s 2016 Festival Finale, with the official ground-breaking ceremony to take place at the Pillow on Friday, October 14 at 5pm. A kick-off to the coming 85th Anniversary season and an anchor project of the organization’s upcoming capital campaign, the building signifies the Pillow’s deep commitment to The School at Jacob’s Pillow and year-round creative development, engagement, and educational programs. Deepening its partnerships with Berkshire-based businesses, the Pillow has contracted with Allegrone Companies of Pittsfield, MA to construct the new studio.

“This new studio ensures that our facilities live up to the prestigious reputation of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and symbolizes a commitment to our growing role as a center for dance research, development, and training,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge. “The potential it offers is an investment in dance artists and the future of this form.”

The new studio will be named the Perles Family Studio, in recognition of a lead gift from the Perles Family Foundation and Jacob’s Pillow Trustee Claudia Perles. This project continues the Pillow’s long relationship with local contractor Allegrone. The company has worked on several projects at Jacob’s Pillow including the Inside/Out stage, facility structures, and housing for artists and seasonal staff. Allegrone’s work also includes projects at numerous Berkshire cultural organizations including the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, among others. The project will be designed by award-winning Flansburg Architects of Boston, MA, and will break ground this fall with projected completion by the end of Festival 2017.

The Perles Family Studio will be the new home for The School at Jacob’s Pillow and its esteemed pre-professional training programs. A distinguished dance education institution, The School’s summer intensive programs include Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre Dance, each led by legends and luminaries of those fields. Alumni of The School go on to dance in leading companies across the world, including Ballet BC, Dorrance Dance, Martha Graham Dance Company, and American Ballet Theatre, among many others. Throughout the fall, winter, and spring months, the new studio will allow the Pillow to expand its capacity for year-round programming, including increasing the number of Creative Development Residencies it can make available to choreographers.

Sommers Studio, the current rehearsal building for The School at Jacob’s Pillow, was built in the late 1920s, moved to the Pillow property in 1951, and renovated in 1955. The challenges of the current studio include limited square footage and the inability to control the temperature of the space throughout the year. The new Perles Family Studio will boast a 3,500 square foot sprung dance floor—nearly doubling the square footage of Sommers Studio. The new studio’s high ceilings will allow for the dramatic lifts common in the choreography of today’s top dance companies. Additional features will include a private porch overlooking the Inside/Out stage, dressing rooms, offices, storage space, and temperature control for year-round use. The new studio will be located in the middle of the Jacob’s Pillow site, adjacent to Sommers Studio.

The Perles Family Studio will also offer increased opportunity for public viewings of The School. An observation deck will seat up to 29 patrons and mimic that of the historic Bakalar Studio, a nod to the Pillow’s first performance space. The deck will double the capacity for viewers and include a separate entrance to minimize disturbances, while dually encouraging observation of the students in rehearsal. The space will also allow for greater public capacity of more than 150 patrons for viewings of The School during indoor Inside/Out performances, contrasting the limited 45 seats currently available for performances inside Sommers Studio.


The School at Jacob’s Pillow is one of America’s most prestigious training centers for dance, encompassing four professional advancement programs. An integral part of Jacob’s Pillow, The School draws program participants and acclaimed artist faculty from all corners of the globe and is one of only five organizations in the United States selected for the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative award, a collaboration between the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, Inc. Through this initiative, the Pillow has been able to establish The Fund for Jacob’s Pillow School Endowment to ensure the availability of scholarships, world-class faculty, and free access to all Festival performances and events for all faculty and students. Alumni of The School include dance luminaries such as Nikolaj Hübbe, Meredith Monk, Mia Michaels, Robert Swinston, and So You Think You Can Dance winner Joshua Allen. Others appear in Dance Magazine‘s “25 To Watch,” on Broadway, and in major companies worldwide. For more information, visit


For more than 84 seasons, Jacob’s Pillow has been faithfully committed to artist support and development through a variety of significant programs. The Jacob’s Pillow Creative Development Residency Program supports the development and rehearsal of new dance repertory. This program serves as a signature of the Pillow’s artistic focus and underscores its support for the expansion of the art form, for artists and audiences.

During Creative Development Residencies, choreographers and companies are invited to spend one to three weeks at the Pillow rehearsing or creating new work, with free housing for the company, unlimited use of studio space, and access to the rare and extensive Archives and other Pillow resources. In the beautiful, retreat-like atmosphere of the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, these residencies are rare opportunities for artists to focus on the creative process without distraction. Residencies are generally between September and the beginning of May, during the non-Festival months. The work created at the Pillow may be at varying stages of development, and may or may not be performed at the Festival. An informal showing with an invited audience concludes the residency.

The Creative Development Residency program has supported hundreds of artists, including Mark Morris and Yo-Yo Ma; Big Dance Theater; Zaccho Dance Theater; Kate Weare; Kyle Abraham, Camille Brown; Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener; Suzanne Farrell; the Cambodian Project; Kimberly Bartosik; Monica Bill Barnes; Chet Walker; John Jasperse; Joanna Kotze; Bryan Arias; Michelle Dorrance; John Heginbotham; Sara Mearns; Jodi Melnick, and many other artists. Creative Development Residencies are by invitation from the Jacob’s Pillow Director.

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