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Jacob’s Pillow Unveils 2019 Schedule

The entrance sign at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts
Jim Levulis

Jacob’s Pillow has announced its schedule for 2019.

Pamela Tatge – the director of the dance center in Becket, Massachusetts – says collaborations with other county institutions are prominent this year.

“People can see at MASS MoCA through our collaboration with them the amazing Trocks – who are the Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo," said Tatge. "These are amazing drag dancers who do ballet, and they’re one of the most popular companies that tour around the world, and we’re just so excited to have them at MASS MoCA. That’s a return engagement, they’ve been there before.”

That’s not the only shared event between Jacob’s Pillow and the North Adams contemporary art museum.

“And then we’re introducing this fantastic tap company from Boston," continued the director. "The company’s called Subject Matter. It’s led by Ian Berg, and he’s a protégé of the great tap dancer Michelle Dorrance.”

As it continues its transition from a seasonal event space to a year round one, the center will hold events through the cold months on its campus.  The first comes in February.

“We’re going to continue our tradition of having really traditional barn dances," Tatge told WAMC. "They’re Pillow Parties, but they have a contemporary twist. Our first is a salute to Brazilian Carnival. We’re bring a great Berkshire band called the Berkshire Bateria. That’ll be a dance lesson and then a great classic samba party.”

The other Pillow Party they’ll be holding in March is all about swing.

“We have really loved partnering with the swing dance groups in our region and having them at the beautiful Perles studio with live music is great," said Tatge. "We’re also featuring another great Berkshire band called the Berkshire Big Band, featuring Wanda Houston.”

Jacob’s Pillow’s work with the public schools of Pittsfield, Becket, and Great Barrington will continue as well.

“This is our Curriculum In Motion program, where we meet with teachers and we find out what they’re having challenges teaching," she told WAMC. "And choreographers teaching artists take that as their commission and work deeply with faculty and students over a two-week residency to really mater those concepts. It’s incredible work, and we’ve been doing it now – this is our 25th year of doing Curriculum In Motion in the schools.”

A hip hop company from Hartford, Connecticut called 860 Movement will be part of the center’s outreach into local communities.

“And they’re led by an alum of the school at Jacob’s Pillow, and we’re actually bringing them to the Boys & Girls Club. We’ve had a three-year partnership with the Boys & Girls Club in Pittsfield, and they’ll be a part of the 10x10 festival," said Tatge. "So it’ll be basically a performance followed by an open cypher dance battle and dance party. These are some of the ways that we’re animating our campus and our region between festivals, and it’s been really exciting to see this work evolve.”

While these public efforts are underway, the center itself is hard at work with dancers from around the world.

“The Pillow becomes a laboratory for the development of new work in the fall, winter, spring months," the director said. "And the Pillow Lab is host to 10 to 12 companies annually to have time and space to develop their works.”

For more on the 2019 Jacob’s Pillow schedule, click here.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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