The beloved Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival just announced its new leader: Pamela Tatge. She’s a dynamic curator who directed the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University for 16 years. She brought in dance artists like Liz Lerman, Eiko Otake, Michelle Dorrance, Ronald K. Brown, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Faye Driscoll, Camille A. Brown, Nora Chipaumire, and many others.
"Ferocious Beauty: Genome" (2006) by Liz Lerman, developed under Pamela Tatge at Wesleyan, photo by Andrew Hoxey
Lerman, who has worked closely with Tatge, is happy about the appointment. “Pam is brilliant in how she works with artists,” she wrote in an email. “Anyone going to the Pillow can expect to be challenged to do their really best work. What is great about Pam is how she can gently put a floor under you to achieve your ideas, or prod you to exceed them. She gathers support for a project from unusual places and people. She helps you see it through. She asks big and small questions… She has strong opinions about art (yea!) and is open to influence in the most collaborative and thoughtful ways.”
Elaborating on Tatge’s approach, Lerman continued: “Emotion and intellect matter to her. And I suspect that she will tackle some of the really big questions of our time, both in the content of what she brings, and in the way she does it. She will make wonderful connections to the Berkshire community as well as to dance artists from around the world.”
One of Tatge’s achievements that reflect her visionary thinking is that she co-founded, along with former Jacob’s Pillow director Sam Miller, the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance. This is a graduate program at Wesleyan that nurtures curators of contemporary performance; it’s the first program to offer a masters' degree in performance curation.
This coming summer’s season has already been programmed by the Pillow's outgoing executive director Ella Baff, who is now a senior program officer at the Mellon Foundation in New York. Her sharp curatorial eye and spirit of inclusion strengthened the festival during her 17 years at the helm. Her warmth and enthusiasm helped make the Pillow a glorious place to visit. It was during Baff’s tenure that President Obama honored Jacob’s Pillow with a 2011 National Medal of Arts, making the festival the first dance presenting organization to receive this award.
Tatge assumes the position of executive director in April.