Jacob's Pillow posts record $2.29 million season in 2015


BECKET — Jacob's Pillow ticket sales in 2015 set an all-time record for the 83-year-old dance festival.

According to figures released Tuesday by Pillow officials, performances in the 600-seat Ted Shawn Theatre and the 200-seat Doris Duke Theatre generated $2.29 million in revenue, breaking the $2.19 million record set in 2014.

Altogether, the Pillow sold more than 50,000 tickets, representing 79 percent combined paid capacity for the Shawn and Duke theaters.

The biggest seller, a festival spokeswoman said, was the Martha Graham Dance Company.

The Pillow recorded more than 101,000 "visitor experiences" — as the festival calls them — last summer for ticketed events; free performances, talks and tours; dance classes; film screenings; exhibits and other community events. Free Inside/Out performances alone drew more than 22,000 attendees.

"I think these numbers show that, more than ever, the Pillow's appeal is diverse, deep and ever-growing," Jacob's Pillow general manager, Andrea Sholler, said by email from New York.

While audiences are coming to the Pillow from virtually every state, including Hawaii, Sholler said, the largest contingent is from New York and Massachusetts.

"We are particularly thrilled with the growing number of Berkshires residents attending our free, outdoor Inside/Out performance series."

The 2015 season numbers are being released just as the Pillow is announcing four of the dance companies that will be appearing at the festival in 2016:

• Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, June 22-26 in the Ted Shawn Theatre;

• Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart in its Ted Shawn Theatre debut, July 6-10;

• McArthur Fellow and Jacob's Pillow Dance Award winner Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance, Aug. 10-14, Ted Shawn Theatre;

• and Compagnie Hervé KOUBI, an all-male dance company from France in a rare U.S. appearance, Aug. 3-7 in the Shawn.

Among other works, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, one of the 2015 season's more popular attractions, will perform the East Coast premiere of a Jacob's Pillow commission by Catalonian choreographer Cayetano Soto, and "Silent Ghost" by Spanish choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.

For its Ted Shawn Theatre bow, Gauthier Dance, which played a week-long sellout engagement last season in the Pillow's Doris Duke Theatre, will feature "Cantata" by Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti with live music performed by the all-female ensemble, Assard.

Dorrance Dance will perform a new evening-length work, "ETM: Double Down," an expanded version of a piece developed and premiered at the Pillow in 2014.

Another evening-length work is on the program by the 12-member all-male Compagnie Hervé KOUBI. The piece, "What the Day Owes to the Night," is set to a blend of capoeira, martial arts, hip-hop and contemporary dance. The company's dancers come from Algeria and Burkina Faso.

The balance of the season — all of which is being put together by Ella Baff, who left the Pillow at the end of the 2015 season after 17 years as the festival's executive and artistic director — will be announced in December. Baff's replacement is expected to be named "very early next year," Sholler said.

Looking ahead, Sholler said that the Pillow is moving into its 84th season, "not only (as) a historic cornerstone, but an innovative institution that both reflects and encourages the growth of the dance field in a multitude of ways."

Tickets for the 2016 season will go on sale to Jacob's Pillow members beginning Jan. 11. Single tickets go on sale to the public on April 1.


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