New beginnings, fond farewells, and special celebrations will mark this summer’s 82d Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket. America’s longest-running dance festival announced its upcoming season this week, and the summer’s slate reflects a wide diversity of programming from around the world by established and emerging talents. The season, which runs June 14-Aug. 24, features performances by 52 companies from as far away as China, Australia, and Brazil in styles ranging from ballet and modern to tap and hip-hop. More than 350 total offerings also include talks, tours, exhibits, films, classes, and community events, many of them free.
The acclaimed Trey McIntyre Project will give its final performances as a full-time company at the Pillow. The company, which will bring the East Coast premiere of “Mercury Half-Life,” set to the rock music of Queen, as well as a new work inspired by writer-illustrator Edward Gorey, first performed at the Pillow in 2005 as a fledgling pickup group. “It’s a sweet circle,” says Pillow executive and artistic director Ella Baff. “The company grew into this phenomenon, one of the most popular at the Pillow. Trey called a few weeks ago saying he wanted to do other things and thought it was time to turn the page. It’s a loss.”
As part of its mission to foster the creation and performance of new work, the festival presents several world premieres, including a special two-week run of a new show by tap artist Michelle Dorrance, last year’s Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner. Dancer-choreographer-actress Carmen de Lavallade performs the world premiere of “As I Remember It,” a solo show about her rich theatrical life. “She has one of the most extraordinary performance histories of anyone today,” Baff says.
String quartet Brooklyn Rider contributes live music to a promising new collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham and violinist-composer Colin Jacobsen, “Chalk and Soot.” “Ballet 2014,” which showcases principal dancers and soloists of New York City Ballet, features a world premiere by a young Pillow alum, Emery LeCrone. “It’s an amazing cast of top dancers offering a snapshot of ballet of different generations,” says Baff. The Hong Kong Ballet offers a rare glimpse of contemporary Chinese ballet.
A weeklong “festival within the Festival” honors choreographer Mark Morris and his company with an exclusive seven-show engagement, talks, a concert by the MMDG Music Ensemble, music seminars, and repertory classes. Hip-hop gets a special focus in the exclusive presentation of “Unreal Hip-Hop,” a mixed bill assembling some of today’s most innovative artists in the genre. Australia’s Circa pushes the boundaries of circus arts, and Italy’s Compagnia T.P.O. courts children of all ages with “Bleu!” The interactive fusion of movement, light, and animation unfolds on a motion-sensored set evoking a creature-filled underwater adventure.
Other highlights include “Stardust,” a dance-theater work by David Roussève/REALITY combining movement, text, video, and original music by d. Sabela grimes to explore a gay African-American man’s coming of age. Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group brings “Moses(es),” which Baff calls Wilson’s best work in his trademark fusion of modern and African dance. LeeSaar The Company, which brings its new “Grass and Jackals,” epitomizes the festival’s international embrace. It was formed in Israel, relocated to New York, and features Gaga-trained dancers from Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Canada, Israel, and the United States.
“It’s a big wide world, and the Pillow is about showing the biggest picture of what dance really is,” Baff says. “It’s not just about presenting the work but about building the art form and the audience. It’s very important to expand the ways we think about dance.”
Here’s the complete lineup:
Season Opening Gala, June 14; Hong Kong Ballet, June 18-22; Carmen de Lavallade in “As I Remember It,” June 20-22; Trey McIntyre Project, June 25-29; “Unreal Hip-Hop,” June 25-29; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, July 2-6; Compagnia T.P.O. in “Bleu!,” July 2-6; Dance Theatre of Harlem, July 9-13; Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group in “Moses(es),” July 9-13; “Ballet 2014,” July 16-20; Dorrance Dance, July 16-27; Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble, July 23-27; Circa in “S,” July 30-Aug. 3; Dance Heginbotham and Brooklyn Rider in “Chalk and Soot,” July 30-Aug. 3; Pacific Northwest Ballet, Aug. 6-10; David Roussève/REALITY in “Stardust,” Aug. 6-10; Companhia Urbana de Dança, Aug. 13-16; doug elkins choreography, etc., Aug. 13-17; “A Jazz Happening,” Aug. 17; Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Aug. 20-24; LeeSaar The Company, Aug. 20-24.