Post Jacob’s Pillow Festival 2016, there’s a few reminders I want to keep floating around in my brain:
1. Stay passionate. Stay hungry for more, no matter how “full” you think you are.
2. Just because you aren’t the artist in the situation doesn’t mean you can’t be a creative mind, a support, or a really great listener.
3. Never lose your fire. Why did you start to do what you’re doing? Why not keep that same passion as long as you do it, every single day?
4. Success can look like a lot of things, can take many forms, can surprise you.
5. Spend time outside. Explore what makes this world beautiful. Find places where you feel small.
Pam Tanowitz Dance
A woman with a distinct and complicated movement vocabulary. The work she showed in the Doris Duke Theatre was technically proficient. When examined deeply, it could be easy to miss the extreme detail within the movement phrasing. Dancers within the ballet world, dabbling in the contemporary discipline. After taking a master class with one of her company members, it was so clear that this movement is way more than it’s cracked up to be on the surface. During her second piece, the barn doors swung open to reveal surrounding trees glowing red and blue, as if we were peering into a mystical unknown. Satisfying the audience’s ever present yearn to see beyond, to imagine what the piece in a greater context. What began as a musical, upright composition quickly became a site specific investigation – utilizing the beauty that is Jacob’s Pillow’s campus to drive home this idea of growing, and spreading past the confines of a given space.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Three pieces – one contemporary, one traditional, and a world premiere by Jessica Lang that blended both visual and performance art. Based on the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Her Door to the Sky brought together costumes, set, and dancer to create one whole production. Watercolored pastels worn by the ensemble made the movement begin to appear as paints on the canvas of the white marley that coated the floor. A simple backdrop with cutouts allowed the choreography to integrate an important sense of depth and level change.
- Women Making Work: In a field saturated with incredible woman talent, the female choreographer is rarely highlighted. This evening’s work was evidence that ALL work is important, relevant, worthy of being featured.
- ACDA Gala Highlights: quite possibly my favorite performance of the Inside/Out series this summer. Crazy nerdy dancer description…go!
- The American College Dance Association is an incredible organization that provides a platform for undergraduate and graduate dancers to come together once a year in a regional dance convention.
- Colleges send two to three pieces to be shown or adjudicated by visiting artists completely anonymously. Colleges can send student, faculty or guest artist works. All are shown and a handful are selected by the judges to be highlighted in a gala at the end of the long weekend. Every other year, an even smaller grouping are chosen to represent each region at the national ACDA conference in Washington DC.
- This year was the first year that four of these national conference selections were selected to come to Jacob’s Pillow post-nationals conference at The Kennedy Center. Students had a two day pillow experience – master class, a photo shoot, time in the archives, the ability to see performances, and finally, show work on the Inside/Out stage.
- As a dancer and dance maker who benefitted so greatly from ACDA, it was incredible to be a part of these dancers’ Pillow experience. I also noticed that each school presented something raw, something fresh. What’s more was the performance quality. Still at a ripe age, these dancers feel what I feel – they are so passionate and so in love with the craft. This fire hasn’t been lost or jaded through time. They are young. They are burning and warm and eager to share themselves freely and openly with the audience. I think after seeing so much dance this summer, it’s easy to see how professionals could lose this pure energy, this essence of why they do what they do. All of the ACDA dancers were my age, my passion level, my friends for two days. I am so thankful to have assisted in this incredible collaboration.
- Just Sole! Street Dance Theater: My final emcee experience of the summer. A street dance/ house crew from Philly, Kyle’s dancers were sweet, enthusiastic, and a perfect group that put a cherry on top of the summer’s feast of movement.
- Nico Brown: The final Inside/Out performance of the season. Minimalist and intriguing, the former Jacob’s Pillow intern (woop woop!) presented work inspired by Trisha Brown. Present yet not completely involved. Performing with ease and relaxation. Never pushing boundaries too far or disturbing the peaceful quality of the stage – the setting sun, the cool air, the butterflies that flew onstage with the male/female duo.
Visiting my mom’s OG stomping grounds. Alum of Boston College, her roots grew first in Chelmsford, MA, just outside of the New England hub. Riding the T to the Commons, waking the Freedom Trail, getting twice my Fitbit steps in for the day while simultaneously learning about the history of the great city. Other highlights: learning the Old North Church is Episcopalian, eating a bomb salad at Sweet Green, and ending the day back in the Berkshires for dinner and a bonfire with my co-workers.
After saying goodbye to The Pillow (for now), Labor Day weekend in NYC included: lots of podcasts, dance class at Gibney, The Danish Girl (if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a view for the incredible cinematography/color palette/heart wrenching story), road trip to Fire Island, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, home cooked meals, happy hours, and reuniting with new and old friends. Visits here always make me feel motivated to keep trucking, keep moving, keep a sense of drive in whatever I choose to pursue.
…for a bachelorette weekend and trip to Universal Studios. What I learned: being an artist has ruined my ability to enjoy entertainment. Rather than sitting back and appreciating these places as an escape from reality, I am instead vexed with endless amounts of questions:
- I wonder what it would be like to design the que line in the Hogwarts Castle? All of this is so detailed and so real-feeling.
- How long did it take to create technology that enables us to feel as if we’re moving through a ride when in actuality we probably moved like a couple hundred feet between several 3D screens?
- Who orchestrated these complicated metal barriers designed to neatly corral the masses into rides?
…and the list goes on and on.
The moral of the story… while being an artist makes me more aware of the details, it also helps me keep my creativity flowing, keeps me thinking about all of the possibilities.
So, there you have it. In two weeks I’m headed back to the Berkshires to embrace an entirely new adventure at the Pillow, this time as a part of the staff. Shifting focus, shifting places. Feeling thankful for new adventures, for the brilliant people that surround me, and for the ability to keep writing, no matter how long I’ve been away from the keyboard.
What are you thankful for today?