Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival announces 2013 season

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By Tresca Weinstein

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blues.

For the 2013 season at Jacob’s Pillow, Executive Director Ella Baff has put together a marriage of dance and theater, classical and contemporary, with each of the traditional wedding-gown elements in place.

Something old

Baff likes to bring back companies that have been particularly well received the year before, and among that list for 2013 is Compagnie Käfig, which had six sold-out performances last summer. Mourad Merzouki’s troupe of self-taught Brazilian male dancers performs a truly global dance form that incorporates elements of hip-hop, samba, modern dance and capoeria.

Jessica Lang Dance debuted as a full company at the Pillow last year with gorgeously graphic work marked by bold colors and lines. For 2013, she brings her dance film “White,” as well as a new collaboration with the Canadian design studio Molo.

In the “golden oldie” category, Dance Theater of Harlem performs classics by George Balanchine and Alvin Ailey; the New York City-based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet returns with a diverse repertory of works; and the Martha Graham Company restages Graham’s 1984 interpretation of The Rite of Spring, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the original ballet created by Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky. Mixing old and new, the company also performs a world premiere by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, whose work is always worth watching.

Something new

Whether brand new to the world or to the Pillow stage, the handful of never-before-seen-here shows set for 2013 look particularly intriguing. First up, LEO, a production from Berlin, melds physical theater, acrobatics and video animation to create what’s been called “the anti-gravity show.” It’s billed as a performance for the whole family.

We last saw Wendy Whelan on the Pillow stage in celluloid — she was one corner of a love triangle in Pontus Lidberg’s fiery dance film “Labyrinth Within,” part of a Morphoses performance in 2012. Whelan is back in real time with “Restless Creature,” co-commissioned by the Pillow, in which she joins forces to create and perform duets with choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo. (Abraham and Brooks also bring their own companies during the season; Abraham shows “Pavement,” inspired by his native Pittsburgh, and Brooks’ “Big City” features a giant installation of aluminum pipes.)

Tere O’Connor makes searing, unpredictable, very personal work; his 2011 piece “Cover Boy,” which he brings to the Pillow in a rare appearance here, explores the isolation of being a closeted gay man. Another one to watch for: the U.S. debut of L-E-V, a new contemporary dance company founded by Israel-based choreographers Sharon Eyal, formerly of the ground-breaking Batsheva Dance Company, and her longtime collaborator Gai Behar.

The Los Angeles company Bodytraffic also makes its Pillow debut, with a selection of commissioned works, many by artists familiar to the Pillow, including Barak Marshall (who premiered his “Monger” here in 2010) and Stijn Celis, a former Pillow School faculty member.

Something borrowed

“Borrowed” from outside U.S. borders, that is. The Pillow’s strong roster of international performers each summer is a big part of its appeal. This year, dancers from foreign shores include frequent visitor Shantala Shivalingappa (an Indian native raised in Paris), who performs the classical south-Indian dance style Kuchipudi. The Pillow also hosts the Brazilian troupe Companhia Urbana de Dança, presenting Chapa Quente (“hot plate” in Portuguese), inspired by the streets of Rio.

The French contemporary ballet company 3e étage, founded and directed by Paris Opera Ballet dancer and choreographer Samuel Murez, premieres “Le Pillow Thirteen,” created especially for Jacob’s Pillow. From our neighbor to the north comes Ballet BC, from British Columbia, with three U.S. premieres. Two companies from Montreal will be here as well: La Otra Orilla with “EL 12,” blending flamenco and contemporary dance with video art; and O Vertigo, with the evening-long work “La Vie Qui Bat,” choreographed by director Ginette Laurin and and set to a live rendition of Steve Reich’s “Drumming.”

Something blues

She may be the best tap dancer whose name you don’t know yet. Michelle Dorrance of Dorrance Dance has performed with “Stomp,” at the Olympics and with Savion Glover and Jason Samuels Smith, among many other tap legends. Her new show, “The Blues Project,” premieres at the Pillow in July, with a live band led by singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon.

Tresca Weinstein is a freelance writer.

At a glance
2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
When: The season runs from June 15 to Aug. 25
Where: Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.
Tickets: Tickets go on sale for members and subscribers as early as Jan. 28; single tickets go on sale to the public on April 8
Info: 413-243-0745; http://www.jacobspillow.org
Note: Further programming announcements will be made in April for more than 200 free events, including Inside/Out performances, PillowTalks, and exhibits


81st Season Opening Gala

Saturday, June 15

Wendy Whelan serves as Honorary Co-Chair for the 2013 Gala and will dance as part of the Gala performance. Members of Dance Theatre of Harlem will also perform.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Ted Shawn Theatre, June 19- 23

George Balanchine’s “Agon”; Alvin Ailey’s “The Lark Ascending” and John Alleyne’s “Far But Close

Compagnie Käfig

Ted Shawn Theatre, June 26- 30

“AGWA” and “Correria”


Doris Duke Theatre, June 26- 30

LEO blends physical theatre, acrobatics, video animation, and imaginative humor.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Ted Shawn Theatre, July 3-7

Cedar Lake is noted for commissioning dance from innovative, sought-after choreographers. Its repertory includes works by Israel-born, U.K.-based dancemaker Hofesh Shechter; Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner Crystal Pite; former member of Nederlands Dans Theater II and Royal Swedish Ballet member Alexander Ekman; and Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Program to be announced.

Shantala Shivalingappa

Doris Duke Theatre, July 3-7

Accompanied by four master musicians, live music and dance come together in this evening of new Kuchipudi work that is co-commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow.

Companhia Urbana de Dança

Ted Shawn Theatre, July 10-14

Chapa Quente” (“hot plate” in Portuguese), which is inspired by the streets of Rio de Janeiro; and “ID: Entidades”

Brian Brooks Moving Company

Doris Duke Theatre, July 10-14

BIG CITY,” which explores aspects of construction and deconstruction; the solo “I’m Going to Explode”; DESCENT”; and “MOTOR.” Note: Brooks will also perform with Wendy Whelan in “Restless Creature,” August 14-18 (see below).

Ballet BC

Ted Shawn Theatre, July 17-21

Three U.S. premieres: “Petite Cérémonie,” created by Nederlands Dans Theater’s Medhi Walerski; Jacopo Godani’s “A.U.R.A.” (Anarchist Unit Related to Art); and “Aniel

Tere O’Connor Dance

Doris Duke Theatre, July 17-21

“Cover Boy”


Ted Shawn Theatre, July 24-28

L-E-V will make its U.S. debut at the Pillow with “HOUSE”

Dorrance Dance

Doris Duke Theatre, July 24-July 28

Tap dancer Michelle Dorrance will premiere her new show “The Blues Project”

3e étage

Ted Shawn Theatre, July 31-August 4

The company will perform the world premiere of “Le Pillow Thirteen“; “me2″; “Quatre”; and “Processes of Intricacy”


Doris Duke Theatre, July 31-August 4

For their Pillow debut, the company will perform a varied program of works, including Richard Siegal’s “O2Joy.” Additional works to be announced.

O Vertigo Danse

Ted Shawn Theatre, August 7- 11

La Vie Qui Bat,” an evening-length work choreographed by Laurin with music by Steve Reich. Reich’s celebrated work “Drumming” will be performed live by members of the Quebec Contemporary Music Society.

Jessica Lang Dance

Doris Duke Theatre, August 7- 11

The ensemble’s program will include Lang’s 2011 work “i.n.k.”; Lang’s dance film “White“; and a Pillow co-commission and world premiere collaboration between Lang and Canadian design studio molo, and other dances, will complete the program.

Wendy Whelan/Restless Creature

Ted Shawn Theatre, August 14- 18

Restless Creature,” co-commissioned by the Pillow, will premiere at this year’s Festival. It will consist of a suite of four duets, created by and performed with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner Kyle Abraham, contemporary ballet choreographer and dancer Joshua Beamish, Festival 2013 artist and choreographer Brian Brooks, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Alejandro Cerrudo.

La Otra Orilla

Doris Duke Theatre, August 14- 18

La Otra Orilla (The Other Shore) makes its Pillow debut performing “EL 12

Martha Graham Dance Company

Ted Shawn Theatre, August 21-25

Graham’s interpretation of “The Rite of Spring”; Lamentation Variations,” with specific works to be announced; and a world premiere by Nacho Duato, the former Artistic Director of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza and CND2.

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.in.Motion

Doris Duke Theatre, August 21-25

Pavement,” an evening length work inspired by neighborhoods in Abraham’s hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, the film Boyz n the Hood, and the emotional chronology of black America


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