Jacob's Pillow is having a party; let The Funk begin

BECKET — There's a dance party at Jacob's Pillow Saturday evening at 8. It's all about The Funk and how it came to be— and the community is invited.

It's the first in the Pillow's Pillow Party Series and it won't be the last, says Jacob's Pillow director Pamela Tatge.

There will be two more between Saturday and May, all of them in the new 7,373-square-foot Perles Family Studio, a place, Tatge said in a telephone interview from New York, that is made for dancing.

Saturday's Pillow Party, "How We Got to The Funk," is being led by Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar who, on Monday evening, received a lifetime achievement award at the Bessie ceremonies — New York Dance and Performance Awards — at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University.

Zollar will be bringing her dancers and a band. Live music will not be part of all the Pillow Party programs, Tatge said, but she says she simply could not resist this band when she saw them perform with Zollar and her dancers in one of Zollar's "Scat" events at a bar in Brooklyn. Zollar's Scat, Tatge explained, is a pop-up shared African dance and music event Zollar performs in various bars. Tatge was so taken by these musicians, she urged Zollar to bring them with her to Becket.

The dance party will begin with Zollar tracing a bit of the history of African dance and how it all led to The Funk.

"The idea," Tatge said, "is to bring the community together to learn a little bit about dance and then dance."

The Perle Family Studio, the new home of The School at Jacob's Pillow, officially opened with a big bash in August, at the end of the Pillow's 2017 season.

It was clear that night, Tatge said, just how much the new facility is made for social dancing.

"Dancing that night, we could all feel the excitement of the space," she said. "I just wanted to take advantage of it."

There is method to Tatge's seeming madness of inviting audiences to the Pillow between summer seasons.

The Pillow Party Series is one element of the Pillow's Vision '22 initiative, a five-year plan designed to establish Jacob's Pillow Dance as a year-round center for workshops, residencies, special events and collaborations with communities, schools and other social and cultural institutions, not only on site but also within the various communities of Berkshire County and environs.

One of the strands of Vision '22, Tatge says, involves civic and community engagement.

'"We need to be an important citizen and neighbor particularly for year-round Berkshires residents," Tatge said. "We want to use our space more commonly for year-round Berkshires residents."

"The arts show us our best selves," Tatge told The Berkshire Eagle in a 2016 interview. "I think if we can figure that out, we can be a model for other places."

So, let The Funk begin.

Reach Jeffrey Borak at 413-496-6212


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