Thursday July 5, 2012

Jacob's Pillow

One of the treasures of the Jacob's Pillow dance festival in Becket is the open air In side/Out stage, home to a dizzying array of free 45-minute performances each week of the summer. Against a backdrop of trees and sky, dancers from around the world perform for appreciative audiences seated on rustic benches.

Tonight, Rukmini Vijayakumar of the company Raadha Kalpa will demonstrate Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form derived from the age-old devotional traditions of temple dancers.

Colorful gold-trimmed costumes combined with dramatic eye and hand movements create a heady choreographic mix that has dazzled onlookers for eons.

Born in southern India and a traditional dance student from age 8, Vijayakumar studied ballet and modern dance at the Boston Conservatory and has appeared in Tamil-language films in her home country.

Also this week, Thomas/Ortiz Dance -- an eclectic company of 12 dancers melding Latin and urban moves to music as diverse as Vivaldi and Japanese Kodo drums -- will appear on Friday. On Saturday, the School at Jacob's Pillow ends the week with a spirited performance of tap dancing under the direction of tap legend Dianne Walker.

Inside/Out performances begin at 6:15 p.m., each Wed nesday to Saturday, through Aug. 26; tickets are not required. Infor mation: www.jacobspillow.org (413) 243-0745.


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Bidwell House Museum

Visiting the Bidwell House Museum in Monterey is like taking a trip back in time to the days when the Berkshires was a frontier of Colonial westward expansion. On Saturday, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., join local Monterey and Tyringham residents in celebrating "Township No. 1 Day" at this 1750s homestead of Rev. Adonijah Bidwell, the first town minister.

Expect lively live entertainment by local musicians including Moonshine Holler, a husband-and-wife duo who play old-time mountain bluegrass music accompanied by sole-stomping flatfoot dancing.

The pie and cake baking contest is always a popular part of the proceedings, with the tantalizing home-baked entries available for tasting after judging ends.

Berkshire author Bernard Drew will share stories from his extensive knowledge of the region's history, and local antique expert Charles Flint will offer appraisals during the day for a modest fee to raise funds for the museum.

Watermelon juices will be running and popcorn popping. From historic craft demonstrations and a treasure hunt to hands-on activities and games for children, the event promises an afternoon of wholesome enjoyment for the whole family.

While the extensive grounds and trails, including heirloom vegetable and flower gardens, will be open for exploration, the house will be closed that day for tours. Information: www.bidwell
housemuseum.org (413) 528-6888.

Clark Art Institute

Recent Family Day visitors to the Clark who did not have time to view the gallery exhibits currently on display have an additional opportunity to visit the Williamstown museum at no cost. Tomorrow, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Highland Street Foundation will sponsor a "Free Fun Friday" at the Clark, which plans to offer special family activities throughout the day.

Along with a salon-style presentation of Clark masterworks while the museum undergoes a massive construction project, three exhibits focusing on founder Sterling Clark's 1908 trek through northern China, from the Yellow River to the Great Wall, will be featured.

At Stone Hill Center, overlooking the expansive Clark campus, maps track his 2,000-mile route beside vintage wood and brass expedition artifacts from astronomical equipment to rifles.

Field Notebooks relate in trepid travelers' tales -- including the night a thief stole his trousers! Photographs of expedition members and local dignitaries are displayed alongside preserved specimens of animals and birds -- some now extinct -- collected for the Smith sonian Institution.

Recent photographs show the places Clark visited and their residents as they appear today, arranged next to original images.

The highlight in the main galleries is a display of recent archaeological finds from the region Clark explored, including a stone-burial sarcophagus shaped like a traditional house, along with fascinating earthenware statues found in tombs depicting animals, warriors and "mushou" mythical guardian beasts to spark the imaginations of young visitors. Information: www.clarkart.edu (413) 458-2303.