Traditional Jacob's Pillow Gala giving way to Virtual Event

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BECKET — In lieu of its traditional season opening Gala June 20, Jacob's Pillow is hosting a free virtual event.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and in accordance with state and federal mandates, Jacob's Pillow cancelled its 2020 Festival on March 31, for the first time in its 88-year history,

Instead, the Pillow will be going digital with "Dance We Must: A Virtual Event Supporting Jacob's Pillow." The free event begins at 7 p.m. Co-hosted by Pillow trustees, choreographers Kyle Abraham and Wendy Whelan, this event will be streamed on Jacob's Pillow's website and social media channels.

"This special Virtual Pillow event will connect our audience and dance fans from around the world with the joy and transformative power of dance and help us navigate these uncertain times together," Jacob's Pillow executive and artistic director Pamela Tatge said in a news release issued Wednesday by the Pillow.

Highlighting the event is the presentation of the 2020 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award, which comes with a cash prize of $25,000. It is presented to an artist "with exceptional vision and achievement annually," the Pillow said. Past recipients include Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Faye Driscoll, Liz Lerman, Camille A. Brown, Michelle Dorrance, and Kyle Abraham.

"Dance We Must's" performances include the world premiere of a solo from Kyle Abraham's newest work for his company A.I.M; a special virtual commission by award-winning tap dancer Michelle Dorrance; a new work by Spanish dancer Irene Rodr guez; a performance from ABT soloist and alumnus of The School at Jacob's Pillow Calvin Royal III; and a duet between New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbrict and partner Danielle Diniz, among others.

Online registration is required. Registration, additional information and event updates are available at jacobspillow.org/events/dance-we-must/.

According to Pillow officials, the event's title is derived from Pillow founder Ted Shawn (1891-1972), who published a series of lectures under the same title in 1940. In this book's opening chapter, Shawn declares that, "as long as there is life there is movement, and to move is hence to satisfy a basic and eternal need."

"Shawn's founding vision still informs the Pillow's activities to this day," the Pillow said in Wednesday's news release, "and the adoption of his words to describe this event underlines the institution's core principles."

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