860 Movement performing on the Inside/Out stage. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

How to Get Your Work on Jacob's Pillow's Iconic Inside/Out Stage

For the second year in a row, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is putting programming power in dance lovers' hands with its Inside/Out: Chance to Dance Contest. Now through February 25, the Massachusetts-based summer fest is accepting video submissions for a coveted spot in its Inside/Out series. That means that your work could join the likes of Pilobolus, Urban Bush Women and James Whiteside on the Pillow's famed outdoor stage.


Fresh air, sunshine and engaging choreography. Periapsis Music and Dance. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Interested choreographers are invited to submit a three-minute-or-less sample video of their work here. Any and all dance styles are welcome, though dancemakers must be based in the United States.

Jacob's Pillow will determine five finalists, and then things get really fun. Between March 26 and April 1 the public can view and vote for their favorite submission, which will be hosted on the Pillow's YouTube channel. One winner will be chosen to perform on August 3 at Inside/Out.

Last year's contest winner was Brazilian choreographer and dancer Samuel Samways. Enter now for your chance at having what we think may be the coolest summer ever.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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