As the days grow shorter and the snow begins to fly, gardeners take to their seed catalogs and dream of Spring. Audiences immerse themselves in traditional Nutcrackers, English style pantos, Messiah sings and the ever-reliable Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
But what really gets us through the next six months are the announcements of the coming performing arts season, led first by the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the BSO’s Tanglewood Festival schedules. Their season announcements often appear before the end of the year. Tanglewood recently announced its classical season (link with week by week highlights), with we can expect updates on the popular artists series is revealed act by act over the next six months.
Jacob’s Pillow also tipped its hand last year with a partial preview on November 17, and the full program by mid-December.
Soon thereafter the theaters chime in, usually led by Barrington Stage Company (BSC) who, in mid-January, hosts a live Q & A season announcement session with critics and arts writers present. It remains the only company that gives such unfettered access to its artistic director and insights into its choices. This sets their PR stage for the whole year.
Shakespeare & Company follows a week later. By February we hear from the Williamstown Theatre Festival and finally, the Berkshire Theatre Group. Details on casting, cabaret performances and the like trickle in all through the Spring.
Today we received the first news of the upcoming season, from Beckett, MA and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, which is planning for what they call a “momentous 85th Anniversary Festival.”
In advance of its full season announcement in December, the Pillow reveals five artists being presented during Festival 2017: powerhouse ballet company Miami City Ballet will kick off the 85th Anniversary Season in the Ted Shawn Theatre; legendary modern dance ensemble Paul Taylor Dance Company will return to the Pillow with a program of audience favorites; UK-based artist Aakash Odedra will perform the enchanting solo Rising with choreography from a roster of acclaimed international artists; 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Camille A. Brown and her company Camille A. Brown & Dancers will perform her newest work BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play; and Japanese-born artist Eiko Otake will create and perform a site-specific piece during a limited engagement on the Pillow grounds.
“We are thrilled to offer a sneak peek of what’s to come in the 85th Anniversary Season,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge, who joined the organization in April of 2016. “The Pillow tradition continues in presenting the leading dance artists from the U.S. and abroad, as well as important performances that occur in conversation with the Pillow’s remarkable physical site.”
Described as “bold, light, immediate, intensely musical” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), Miami City Ballet opens the 85th Anniversary Season in the Ted Shawn Theatre, June 21-25. The works on the program exhibit the company’s wide range and prowess, including master choreographer George Balanchine’s challenging and technically precise Allegro Brillante set to Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s energetic “Third Piano Concerto No. 3”. The program also includes Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s elegant Polyphonia, danced to György Ligeti’s complex and dissonant score. Other works to be announced.
Often lauded for its “youth, vitality, good cheer and a sense of adventure” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post), Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to the Pillow for a special 85th Anniversary Season engagement in the Ted Shawn Theatre, July 12-16. Led by the vision of renowned modern dance choreographer Paul Taylor, the company has performed at the world’s leading venues, and is a Berkshires audience favorite with their Pillow debut in 1964 and annual performances at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in nearby Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The company’s program at the Pillow will feature a roster of classic works, including the exuberant and romantic Esplanade, set to two Johann Sebastian Bach concertos. Other works to be announced.
“Simply breathtaking” (Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail) British artist Aakash Odedra makes his Pillow debut with his captivating solo work Rising in the Doris Duke Theatre, July 19-23. A contemporary dancer with roots in the classical Indian dance styles of Kathak and Bharatnatyam, Odedra is known for his mesmerizing agility and “ecstatic joy in dancing” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times). His work Rising features his own choreography and work from acclaimed international artists: British choreographer Akram Khan, recipient of the International Society of the Performing Arts Distinguished Artist Award; 2014 Laurence Olivier Award recipient Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui of Belgium; and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant of the UK.
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Camille A. Brown and her company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, will present her evening-length work New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) nominated BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play in the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 9-13. Set to live music, the work explores childhood innocence and the maturation of the Black female through “a common language formed from play, musicality, and empathy” (Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Time Out New York). “A storyteller with many stories to tell” (Janine Parker, The Boston Globe), Brown is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, 2014 Bessie Award recipient, 2015 USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellow, 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, 2015 TED Fellow, a four-time Princess Grace Award recipient, and a three-time recipient of New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project support, among many other accolades.
In an exclusive one-day-only engagement, Japanese-born artist Eiko Otake will perform A Body at the Pillow, a site-specific solo performance on the historic grounds of Jacob’s Pillow on Saturday, July 22. The work is the newest installment of Eiko’s A Body in Places series, which includes performances in train stations, warehouses, and libraries, as well as the irradiated Fukushima, Japan. Praised for her “unassailable intensity”, Eiko is able to “radiate both frailty and abandon” (Gia Kourlas, The New York Times) in her performances. Eiko’s appearances at the Pillow as Eiko & Koma date back to the early 1990s. Their work has been presented at prestigious venues including The Joyce Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and a month-long living exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to her Anonymous was a Woman Award, Eiko’s solo work at Danspace Project’s PLATFORM received a special citation at the 2016 New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards.