Discover the rich history of Jacob’s Pillow through an extensive online collection of photographs and festival programs. Search our entire collection of moving images, books, correspondence and other materials to learn more about past performances and artists, including Ted Shawn, Ted Shawn's Men Dancers, and the Denishawn Company.
The Story of Jacob's Pillow
Choreographic Innovation at the Pillow
IMAGE: The Story of Jacob's Pillow, pamphlet produced by Jacob’s Pillow in 1969.
LINKED ARCHIVAL MATERIAL: To read The Story of Jacob's Pillow online, please click on the image.
Ted Shawn bought Jacob’s Pillow in 1931 as an artistic retreat, and since its nascent stages, the Pillow has served as a home for artistic experimentation and creation. The grounds were the site in which Ted Shawn founded and based Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, over the course of the company’s seven-year tenure 1933-1940. The annual famed summer Dance Festival descends from a series of “Tea Lecture Demonstrations” that Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers used as a means to present their work to the public and earn a living. As the Pillow has grown and expanded in the nine decades since its founding, the site has played host to numerous choreographers in residence, commissioned a number of works, and also been the site of choreographic and company debuts.
Choreographic Innovation at the Pillow provides a small glimpse as to how Jacob’s Pillow has been a site for dancemakers to create and develop their work. This exhibition is by no means a complete inventory of all the works which have been created and premiered at the Pillow, nor a listing of the many artists who have made and shown work; the Pillow’s long history as a site for dancemaking renders that almost impossible. Rather, what I hope this particular selection of archival materials brings forward is insight into the multiple ways choreographic innovation has manifested at the Pillow over the years, and what is possible when dancemaking is given a space to develop.
Choreographic Innovation at the Pillow was curated by Emma Clarke as part of a master’s practicum with the Jacob’s Pillow Archives in 2021. My sincere thanks to Norton Owen and Patsy Gay for their invaluable support and insight.
The use of dramaturgy in American theatre and dance is a relatively recent development; while in Europe and other parts of the world, dramaturgs are deeply embedded in the fields of dance, theatre, and music. This online exhibit explores some crucial questions in relation to the history and current practice of dramaturgy in dance through looking at examples from the Jacob's Pillow Archives. Written by Gaven D. Trinidad, dramaturg and 2017 Jacob's Pillow Archives/Engagement intern.
Browse these posthumous remembrances written by Norton Owen, Director of Preservation at Jacob's Pillow, of all kinds of constituents—performers, students, interns, board members, neighbors, and others—who have all enriched the Pillow community. (Note: When you click on an image, the corresponding text will appear at the top of the page.)
Carmen de Lavallade, recent Kennedy Center Honors recipient, is celebrated in a new online essay by Maura Keefe.