A rather quiet dance season ahead
The recreation of another lost classic by one of modern American dance's founders will be the highlight of this weekend, and perhaps the entire fall season in dance performance. A few years after dancer and choreographer Adam H. Weinert brought Berkshire audiences a glimpse at some of Ted Shawn's original, overlooked productions, he'll return with a presentation of some more.
But aside from a performance by visiting artist Marielis Garcia at Simon's Rock later in the season, there is surprisingly littler on the dance calendar for the fall, which in past years has included visits by international touring companies and simulcasts of ballet performances from further afield.
This weekend, Jacob's Pillow will feature Weinert's revival of "Dance of the Ages," an evening-length work that Shawn premiered in September 1938, and which he considered the "summit of his achievement as a choreographer, dancer and educator." The non-narrative work features segments that align with the four elements — fire, water, earth and air — and was a regular part of his company, The Men Dancers, until their final performance in 1940.
This production is another step in Weinert's careful research and reconstruction of Shawn's work. The dancer, who lives and works at a studio in Hudson, N.Y., in 2015 presented a sequence of Shawn's work called "Monument," which was featured at the Doris Duke Theater at Jacob's Pillow in August 2016.
The new production caps a summer that has celebrated the history of Jacob's Pillow, and included things like an exhibit at the Williams College Museum of Art, entitled "Dance We Must: Treasures from Jacob's Pillow, 1906-1940" which runs until Nov. 11. Shawn had bought the Becket property in 1931, and over time it evolved to become the country's premiere dance festival. Shawn died in 1972, and while celebrated as a major figure in the emergence of American dance, his actual dances were for a long time little remembered and rarely performed.
Weinert described to The Eagle in 2016 his process of bringing these works back as like "dancing with ghosts."
"What does it mean for us when these works are pulled out of their archived mausoleums and revivified by a new generation of dancers?" The Eagle's reviewer asked two years ago. "In this project, the results are, blessedly, not somehow 'quaint' but often thrilling. The performers give the dances, and thus the dances' makers, the respect due them, which means they don't tiptoe into the step with some kind of misplaced reverence ... they simply dance; the dances live again."
Elsewhere on the public schedule at the Pillow is a "Pillow Party" on Saturday, Oct. 6, celebrating Latin music and dance. Guest artists David Olarte and Carla Leon of Stilo Dance Company will lead an introduction to Latin dance ahead of a dance party accompanied by the music of Jesus Pagan y Conjunto Barrio.
At Simon's Rock later in the season, on Friday, Nov. 2, visiting artist in dance Marielis Garcia will perform "Punct Study," which the event program says features her characteristically "rigorous movement language and uncompromising conceptual investigation." The title of the work, which will be performed at the McConnell Theater at the Daniel Arts Center, comes from the German word for "point," and explores the idea of a "halt in the progress of a process [or] event," in particular what happens when a body in motion is stopped. "When a body pauses, it is continuous in evolution, yet consists of points that halt, including the hands, nose, knees, and more."
Garcia is a native of New York City, and dances with the Brian Brooks Moving Company and Peter Kyle Dance among others. She launched her own production company, MG DanceArts, in 2016.
"As a dancer, I am most interested in sharing with you a moment of communal existence," she wrote in a statement on her website. "I am interested in the moments when the dancer and the spectator enjoy a fleeting relationship that bounds them for that shared occasion."
The fall is pretty thin in terms of dance, though the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will present Bolshoi Ballet simulcasts later in November. Also missing this season is a visit from the Paul Taylor Dance Company, which had come to the Mahaiwe each of the previous 11 years. The closest the company will make it this fall is a performance Friday, Oct. 12 at the Egg in Albany.
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