BECKET — Flanking the proscenium in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow are two portraits, one of Shawn and one of his former wife, Ruth St. Denis, who together created the fabled Denishawn School. Among their most famous pupils was Martha Graham, whose own star grew to eclipse even those of her legendary teachers. In her eponymous company’s program at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival this week, a brief film of Graham performing her solo “Lamentation” is projected onto the backdrop, her ghostly image noticeably larger than those portraits.
Likewise, the Martha Graham Dance Company enjoys an exalted status in the dance world, although it has struggled with the usual issues of legacy that arise when founders pass away. The wisest path may be one that honors the past by keeping the Graham repertory alive and fresh without trapping the dancers — or audiences — into a museum-like existence, while moving forward by inviting other choreographers in to create or stage their works on the company.