The 83rd Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2015 was an unforgettable season featuring a broad spectrum of dance from contemporary and classical ballet, hip-hop, and modern dance, to tap, dance-theatre, flamenco, and fusions of all of the above. Over the course of 10 weeks, the 2015 Festival featured 163 performances by 52 dance companies from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Cuba. Attendance this year broke all previous records with over 101,000 visitor experiences.
A key element of the Pillow’s unique appeal is the intimacy of our theaters and our commitment to presenting live music with dance. Music highlights from the 2015 season included an encore presentation of The Blues Project by Michelle Dorrance and her company of all-star tap dancers, Dorrance Dance, with original live music by composer Toshi Reagon and her band BIGLovely. The founder and director of Dorrance Dance, Michelle Dorrance has been lauded as one of today’s most skilled and imaginative tap choreographers. Together with her collaborators, Derick K. Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, they brought the house down with powerful solo improvisations to Reagon’s stirring, soulful music.
The debut appearance of MalPaso Dance Company from Havana, Cuba was an audience favorite this season with a mixed program that included Despedida, with choreography by MalPaso Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, set to an original score by Mexican-American composer Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, performed live. Taking inspiration from the eponymous poem by the award-winning Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, Despedida showcased the company’s signature virtuosic range in style from Brazilian capoeira to ballet.
La Otra Orilla returned to the Pillow with the world premiere of Moi&lesAutres, a sublime exploration of communication and collaboration, and the impact of relating together through song, dance, and music. Led by Canadian dancer/choreographer Myriam Allard and French singer/stage director Hedi Graja, La Otra Orilla’s work is a truly unique and radical approach to Flamenco that reflects a transdisciplinary vision.
Festival presentations were complemented by the Pillow’s nationally recognized Audience Engagement Program which contextualizes the work of exceptional artists and educates and stimulate Pillow visitors at every level of interest. In 2015, more than 51,000 people of all ages and economic backgrounds attended free performances, PillowTalks with artists, Pre/Post-Show Talks with Scholars-in-Residence, intergenerational dance classes, and exhibits.
Building on the successes of Festival 2015, Jacob’s Pillow moves into another season of exciting programming and artistic excellence. The 2016 Festival promises to be another extraordinary year with key anniversaries, premieres of new projects we are co-commissioning, and several programs with live music including the return of tap sensation and 2015 MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance, and Festival 2015’s breakout start Gauthier Dance/Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart performing Mauro Bigonzetti’s Cantata with the all-female vocal ensemble, Assurd, from Argentina. The complete 2016 line-up will be announced in December.