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They Could Have Danced All Night at Jacob’s Pillow

Rural Intelligence Parties and OpeningsCultural correspondent Bess Hochstein reports: The best thing about the annual Jacob’s Pillow gala is the dancing–by students, professional artists, and almost everyone in attendance.  Guests arriving at this year’s opening gala on June 20 were greeted with flutes of Champagne and fold-up umbrellas (which would come in handy later.) After previewing A Dance to Jules Feiffer in Blake’s Barn, they filed into the Ted Shawn Theatre, where student dancers presented a world premiere by Viktor Plotnikov with professional polish—even though they had only begun to work on the piece just four days earlier. Executive director Ella Baff presented the third annual Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award to the pioneering Merce Cunningham,  who first danced at the Pillow in 1955; he was unable to attend but gave a taped acceptance speech. There were sneak previews of two hot young dance troupes appearing in July: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Gallim Dance, and then tap phenom Jason Samuel Smith, shorn of his signature flying dreadlocks, tapped in from the back of the theatre, down the aisle, and up a set of stairs to the stage where he put on a blazing display before tapping back through the aisles. He then returned to the stage with all the evening’s performers, who received a well deserved standing ovation. The crowd made use of their umbrellas walking across the soggy lawn to a massive party tent with an appropriately large dance floor.  Smith had the first dance with Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, and then it was the guests’ turn to share the dance floor. With a corps of lithe and limber students and company members leading the way, the urge to dance proved irresistible; the crowd leapt to its feet for the second time that evening and the band drowned out the intermittent torrential downpours.
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Mark Johnson & Maurice Peterson of Seven Salon in Stockbridge; Amy Zuckerman with gala committee chair Hunter Kerr Runette.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Daniel Osman of the Dream Away Lodge with Hollywood legend and Pillow director emeritus, Marge Champion; Pillow stalwarts Helice & Steve Picheny.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Dance critic Deborah Jowitt and her husband, Murray Ralph, the namesake of WAMC president Alan Chartock’s beloved Westie; Pillow director of preservation Norton Owen with gala committee member Kathleen Chrisman.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Two generations of tap sensations: Ninety-year-old Miriam Nelson, who danced to fame in the 1940s, with Pillow posterboy Jason Samuels Smith, whose two week run at the Doris Duke Theatre begins July 22.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Ralph Lauren marketing executive Talbot Logan in Lily Pulitzer and Barnes & Noble merchandising executive Bill Miller in J. Crew, continuing a six-year tradition of wearing fanciful pants to the Pillow gala; potter and writer Daniel Bellow with Eugenie Sills, publisher of The Women’s Times.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
The Governor and First Lady of Massachusetts, who have a weekend house in nearby Richmond.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Marsha Johnson with Arthur Collins; the Pillow’s general manager Connie Chin with Diane Wortis of Miss Hall’s School, who served on the gala committee.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Mika Santiago with Elka Samuels Smith, Jason Samuels Smith’s sister and manager; Jason’s niece, Kaia Samuels Viana, with her grand aunt (and Jason’s aunt) Flo Samuels.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancers Jubal Battisti, Golan Yosef, & Matthew Rich, who will perform at the Pillow July 8 - 12
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Gala committee members Barbara & Tonio Palmer of Tyringham; Nancy Kalodner and Doug Shufelt were pretty in pink.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Singer  and artist Kent Drake with dancing partner Mercedes Ellington, dancer, choreographer, and granddaughter of Duke Ellington
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Circus Arts Instructor Jill Fleming with trombone player Don Mikkelsen, who plays with Wanda Houston at Napa on Friday nights; Tom & Stephanie Hoadley of the Hoadley Gallery in Lenox.
 
Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Pillow executive director Ella Baff gets down with Jason Samuels Smith.

 

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/21/09 at 03:22 PM • Permalink