Pillow's leading lady


BECKET -- Her name may be unfamiliar -- but the Berkshires knows her. Jo-Ann Sundermeier dances on the cover of the 80th Anniversary Season of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, on programs and billboards.

Sundermeier, 29, is a principal dancer with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and she appears in all three ballets the company will present this week -- performing the Coeur d'amour pas de deux in ‘Carmina burana,' one of the pas de deux in ‘In Tandem' and one in ‘Moonlight Sonata.'

Born in Boynton Beach, Fl., Sundermeier began her dance training in Miami when she was 8. She studied in the Royal Winnipeg's ballet school and made her professional debut in the Royal Winnipeg's ‘Nut cracker' in 2002. Moving up, she performed Odette/Odile in ‘Swan Lake,' her dream role, she said by phone from Banff, where the company was on tour.

Sundermeier said the omnipresent Jacob's Pillow photo of her is not from a specific dance.

‘The company asked for an athletic shot -- it's to your own personal style; you get to wear what you want. So I put on the tank top and skirt,' she said.

But her selection as the 2012 face of Jacob's Pillow was a clear choice, according to Ella Baff, the festival's executive and artistic director.

‘Every season, we look at all the photographs that artists send us for that season,' she explained. ‘We spread them out on a giant table and look at what makes a strong visual statement, and it has to be eye-catching. [Sundermeier] absolutely rose to the top of all the choices.

‘There are always good choices, but she has this beautiful combination of classical ballet perfect line -- the positioning of perfect classical ballet form - but she also looks very contemporary and a little bit athletic, so we just thought she was perfect. And that costume has so much energy and motion in it. I think it's one of the favorite covers of all time.'


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