Out & About

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The New York Sun

The opening performance and gala of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival on Saturday kicked off the summer season in the Berkshires.

Highlights: the fresh air, scarce cell phones (the devices don’t work so well in the mountains), cocktails in and around a big red barn, and seeing Jock Soto.

The retired New York City Ballet dancer, who noted that today marks the one-year anniversary of his departure from the company, was up at Jacob’s Pillow to teach ballet classes at the school. He had a second-row seat during the performance, a sampler of the 20 dance companies from around the world that will perform here this summer.


“Rubberbandance was spectacular,” Mr. Soto said afterward, referring to the Toronto company founded by Victor Quijada. “That to me was so inspiring, it almost made me want to dance again,” Mr. Soto said.

But Mr. Soto’s post-dance life is underway, as guests learned during the live auction, when a hot bidding contest developed over the item he donated, for which Anne and William Tatlock paid $9,500: dinner for eight at his apartment prepared by his very own Lucky Basset Catering, named after the basset hound the NYCB dancers gave him as a parting gift.

About that dance program at the Ted Shawn Theatre: The executive director, Ella Baff, explained the theme, “Passion for Dance,” in a charming introductory speech from the stage – a Pillow tradition started by Shawn.


The next 50 minutes or so was devoted to myriad interpretations of dance partnering. Leading off was a world premiere that Wayne Eagling choreographed on the 23 students of the School at Jacob’s Pillow in three days. Partnering is the most difficult thing for young dancers to master, but here, in sparse intervals between all-female and all-male movements, it worked. And the entire group worked well in the finale.

Next came a soloist, the veteran of the Limon Dance Company, Roxanne D’Orleans Juste, who had so much energy she didn’t need a partner and ended the piece jumping. This work laid the foundation for the beautiful tango and milonga performed later by Mariana Parma and Oliver Kolker.

The solo start by Megumi Eda of Armitage Gone! Dance was cold and lonesome. Then came the foil: the fiery pair of Theresa Ruth Howard and William Isaac, entwining in love and anger. Members of the new company (which has just appointed its first executive director, Lauren Daniluk), have taken to calling Mr. Howard and Ms. Isaac Tina and Ike. “Before the break-up – and with none of the battery,” Mr. Isaac said of the singing and long-since broken up Turners.


The most literal pop cultural references came from Rubberbandance Group, with Mr. Quijada and Anna Plamondon using moves from ballet and the street, brilliantly syncopated to a Bach violin concerto. And then there were the clothes: jeans and sneakers. “Yes, they’re real jeans,” Ms. Plamondon said.

The closing work was the apotheosis of partnering, “Cor Perdut,” a pas de deux performed by Marina Jimenez and Hector Torres of the Compania Nacional de Danza, who have danced together for 10 years, since they were 14. Their secret? “Our friendship,” Ms. Jimenez said through a Spanish translator. “Whatever we feel when we dance, there is always a sense of goodness and togetherness.”

And that’s exactly what one finds at Jacob’s Pillow, the only dance site in America on the National Historic Register, which is $700,000 shy at the moment from completing a $6 million campaign to build an endowment. Next year it celebrates its 75th anniversary as a dance archive, school, and venue for performances, lectures, and exhibits.


The New York Sun

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