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Most Recent Playlist - Strong Women

Even though one of the foundational purposes of Jacob’s Pillow was to spotlight the strength of men dancers, strong women have long been celebrated here. These are just a few examples, with many more to be found in playlists devoted to Women Together and Solo Women (in White). For a deeper dive, explore the multi-media Women in Dance essays curated by Maura Keefe.

Mythili Prakash

She's Auspicious, 2023

In this Pillow-commissioned premiere, the line between Goddess and Woman is blurred, exploring the dichotomy between celebration of the Goddess versus the treatment of women in society.

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Dorrance Dance

SOUNDspace, 2023

While this is an ensemble work with opportunities for other company members to shine, Michelle Dorrance allows herself a solo moment here. For more on Dorrance, check out this online essay by Brian Seibert.

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Ananya Dance Theatre

Nün Gherāo: Surrounded by Salt, 2023

This company of BIPOC women and femme dancers led by Ananya Chatterjea is seen here in a historical and political work developed during a Pillow Lab residency.

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Martha Graham Dance Company

"Prelude to Action" from Chronicle, 2019

This final section of Martha Graham’s Chronicle was described as a call for “a brave new world” at its premiere in 1936, and Graham characteristically envisioned herself as leading that imagined world.

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Abby Z and the New Utility

abandoned playground, 2019

Abby Zbikowski examines the layered meanings of “play” in this ferociously virtuosic work, built upon years of training in tap, hip-hop, and West African dance forms.

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Camille A. Brown

The Evolution of a Secured Feminine, 2010

While she had performed at the Pillow well before this with the company of Ronald K. Brown, the performance seen here marked the first time that Camille A. Brown had presented her own work at the Pillow.

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Mia Michaels' R.A.W. (Reality at Work)

Transitional Illuminations, 2000

Long before she became an influential judge and contributing choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, Mia Michaels was a student in The School at Jacob’s Pillow. She’s part of the ensemble in this performance by her eponymous company.

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The Fugue, 1998

Although she began making dances in the 1960s, Twyla Tharp refers to The Fugue as her Opus One, a breakthrough work that continues to be performed today by companies around the world.

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Meredith Monk

Volcano Songs, 1997

This video represents the Pillow performance debut of one of America’s most original and iconic creative artists, nearly 40 years after her initial summer at Jacob’s Pillow as a teenage dance student.

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David Gordon/Pick Up Performance Co(s)

"One Part of the Matter" from Parts of a Retrospective and A Work in Progress, 1996

As the life partner and muse of David Gordon, Valda Setterfield held center stage in his works for decades, bringing her own mastery as a Merce Cunningham dancer to Gordon’s idiosyncratic vision.

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Trisha Brown

If You Couldn't See Me, 1994

The final solo that Trisha Brown created for herself, If You Couldn’t See Me is distinguished by the fact that Brown never once faces the audience throughout the dance. Brown’s artistry is further revealed in this multi-media essay.

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Wendy Perron

Ten Thoughts Slipping, 1992

Wendy Perron first performed at the Pillow in solos, later presenting her own company, teaching in The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and serving as Associate Director. In more recent years, she has continued her involvement as a speaker in several PillowTalks.

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Carmen de Lavallade

Portrait of Billie, 1992

This classic solo was inspired by the music and life of Billie Holiday, premiering at the Pillow in 1960 with choreographer John Butler partnering Carmen de Lavallade. More than 30 years later, de Lavallade revived the work for this Pillow Gala performance attended by Butler.

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Pauline Koner

Reflections, 1991

While Pauline Koner performed her work at the Pillow many times between 1945 and 1970, none of those appearances was filmed. She took matters into her own hands while she was teaching here in 1991, improvising for the camera when she was in her 80th year.

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Judith Jamison

Scene Seen, 1988

This solo by Garth Fagan was the last work created for Judith Jamison as a performer, seen here in a Pillow studio showing presented by her company, The Jamison Project.

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Marge Champion and Blake Champion

Dancing, 1986

Marge Champion enjoyed a close association with Jacob’s Pillow for more than 30 years until her death in 2020, serving on the Pillow board and assuring the legacies of both her and her late son Blake by donating Blake’s Barn as a home for the Pillow Archives. Her Pillow connections are further explored in this podcast episode.

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Myra Kinch

The Bird Watcher (Flight from Reality), 1963

During her tenure of more than 20 years at Jacob’s Pillow, Myra Kinch both taught and performed nearly every season. The performance seen here was filmed for a Pillow documentary that was broadcast from coast to coast.

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Pearl Primus

Spirituals, 1950

Pearl Primus bridged the worlds of African and modern dance, training as an anthropologist as well as a performer. This extremely rare footage is one of the few records of Primus at the peak of her career, which is further explored in John Perpener’s insightful online essay.

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Anna Duncan

Unidentified dance by Isadora Duncan, 1942

These precious film fragments document the last major performance by one of Isadora Duncan’s adopted daughters, known as the Isadorables, who performed widely with Isadora up until 1921.

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Ruth St. Denis

"The Delirium of Senses" from Radha, 1941

Though this film was made 35 years after Ruth St. Denis premiered Radha in 1906, it helps document the dawn of American modern dance, an art form that was largely created by women.

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Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, National Medal of Arts recipient, and home to America’s longest running dance festival. Learn more about the international festival, educational programs, archives, and more.


Connect with notable dance artists throughout history brought to life by current thought-leaders and scholars in PillowVoices: Dance Through Time.