Life at Jacob’s Pillow with Sara Mearns and Michelle Dorrance

Wang Ramirez Creation's Diary featuring Sara Mearns

Our wonderful dance historian Caroline Hamilton gives us an update from her stay with Jacob’s Pillow, America’s oldest dance festival:

It is hard to believe that I have been living and working at the Pillow now for seven weeks and that week four of the Festival has now begun.

There have been so many amazing things it is difficult to know where to start! I have been lucky enough to see a huge variety of live performances and to take advantage of the extensive archive – viewing historic footage, photos and trying to read as many books as possible.

I want to share with you two of favourite (and very different) works from the Festival so far.

Company Wang Ramirez featuring Sara Mearns

This piece was created with Company Wang Ramirez, a dance duo consisting of Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez, and New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.

The work developed during a creative residency at the Pillow and was performed at the 85th season gala by Wang and Mearns. It combined the varied skills of both dancers in an amazing piece of choreography.

The dancers filmed their process in a great series of YouTube videos (below).

This is my favourite and it gives such an insight into the collaboration and performance.

I love how Mearns is so open in embracing different forms of dance and pushing the boundaries of classical ballet. She will also be appearing in Matthew Bourne’s new work The Red Shoes in NYC later this year.

Michelle Dorrance – tap sensation! 

Another highlight for me was Tireless: A Tap Dance Experience Curated by Michelle Dorrance (performing in London this month) – this was the brain child of Pillow Director Pamela Tatge and tap legend Michelle Dorrance (who was also in residence leading the Tap Program in the School at Jacob’s Pillow). The event brought together tap artists from around the world in one evening length performance.

The event featured tap dancer and bassist couple Reona and Takashi Seo of Japan in AUN; Chicago-based choreographer and performer Jumaane Taylor and his ensemble work Supreme Love; Joe Orrach of San Francisco in his solo performance entitled In My Corner; and tap dancing siblings Joseph and Josette Wiggan of Los Angeles in a new work entitled Harmony.

The styles in each piece were so different and really showcased the huge variety within the genre of tap around the world. I have not seen a lot of tap and to see this wide range was incredible.  Getting to know these great dancers was pretty awesome too!

You can view the post-show talk from this piece on YouTube.

You can also view some great articles on tap at Jacob’s Pillow Interactive.

You can also read our interview with the incredible Michelle Dorrance.

Michelle Dorrance by Matthew Murphy and Kenn Tam
Michelle Dorrance by Matthew Murphy and Kenn Tam