Jacob's Pillow is Becoming a Year-Round Dance Destination

Calpulli Mexican Dance Company performing on the Pillow's Inside/Out stage. Photo by Hayim Heron, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Jacob's Pillow kicked off its annual summer dance festival this weekend, and with it, its 85th anniversary season. It's the first to be curated by new director Pamela Tatge, offering a glimpse of the direction in which she plans to lead the historic festival. But as of this morning, we have more than just a glimpse: We have a newly announced strategic plan for the Pillow's future.

It's called Vision '22, a five-year blueprint for taking the Pillow from a summer dance destination to a year-round center for dance creation. In a press release, Tatge said, "Vision '22 will help us strengthen our artistic core, boost our civic leadership and community involvement, and renew essential campus facilities."

So what exactly does that mean?

For starters, Pillow Lab will provide 10-15 customized residencies for dancemakers throughout the year. Based on the 2016-17 pilot residencies, which involved artists including Ronald K. Brown, John Heginbotham, Sara Mearns and Company Wang Ramirez pursuing cross-genre creative projects, we're guessing that Pillow Lab will offer opportunities to artists working across an equally broad spectrum of dance.

Honji Wang and Sara Mearns perform"No. 1," a work in progress developed during a recent Pillow Lab pilot residency, during the Pillow's 85th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

And good news for aspiring dancemakers: There are plans for a new summer study program at The School of Jacob's Pillow focusing on emerging choreographers, beginning with the 2018 festival. Also in the works: workshops and conferences for dance professionals throughout the year, a new College Partnership Program granting additional access to the Lab and the Pillow's legendary Archives, and a choreographers' retreat.

The Pillow has also announced programs aimed at engaging nearby communities in the Berkshire County area, from school programs to discounted performance tickets for local dance students to a free transportation scheme to and from the Pillow for residents of nearby Pittsfield, MA.

To cap it off, there's a marked uptick in attention to facilities. Not only is the massive Perles Family Studio getting its grand opening in August, but there are also plans for additional housing, and for structural renovations to the Ted Shawn Theatre. (Not to worry, folks: The look of the building isn't changing anytime soon.)

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