In addition to the newly-compiled video clips in this playlist, the impressive history of Black artists at Jacob’s Pillow can be sampled in the extended video excerpts and documentation contained within John Perpener’s Dance of the African Diaspora essays as well as in three entirely different playlists: More Black Voices, Black History, and Black Artists in the Duke.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Like Water, 2021
Jacob’s Pillow commissioned this work from choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie to herald the Pillow debut of Dallas Black Dance Theatre.
Life Encounters, 2021
This autobiographical work utilized voiceovers and a stellar supporting cast to tell the life story of dance legend Archie Burnett.
New England Soul Line Dance Network
Soul Line Dance Party, 2021
Partly presentational and part participatory, this event took place inside a large tent set up on the Pillow’s Great Lawn.
Halfway to Dawn, 2019
The music and life of Billy Strayhorn was the impetus for this full-company work by David Roussève.
Dark Swan, 2007
The Zimbabwe-born Nora Chipaumire created her iconic solo, Dark Swan, as a counterpart to the classic Swan Lake and Dying Swan.
Widely considered to be a signature work, Doscongio allows us to see Robert Moses displaying the qualities that made him a standout performer with ODC/San Francisco and Twyla Tharp.
Savion Glover, 2005
Though he’s seen here in a solo, a notable aspect of this 2005 engagement by Savion Glover was the program’s inclusion of two Glover mentors, Dianne Walker and Jimmy Slyde.
Battleworks Dance Company
Strange Humors, 2003
Now best known as the director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Robert Battle brought his first company, Battleworks, to the Pillow in 2003.
Garth Fagan Dance
Oatka Trail, 2002
When Garth Fagan wanted to make a film of his classic Oatka Trail, he came up with the idea of shooting it on the stage of the Ted Shawn Theatre with the back stage doors open to the great outdoors.
Rennie Harris Puremovement
Rome and Jewels, 2000
Much in the same way that West Side Story translated Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the musical theater stage, Rennie Harris started with the same source and used the language of hip hop to create Rome and Jewels.
Bill T. Jones
Three Dances, 2000
This early work by Bill T. Jones is a study in pure movement, offering a chance to see Jones as a still-dynamic performer in his late 40s,
Urban Bush Women
This solo by Urban Bush Women’s founder, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, presents an unusually candid look at the creative process.
Willow Song, 1998
A mentor to Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Dianne McIntyre premiered a new solo in the same season when Zollar presented her Self-Portrait, using the traditional spiritual “Kumbaya” as her inspiration.
Donald Byrd/The Group
"Jazz 1" from Jazz Train, 1998
Donald Byrd’s full-evening Jazz Train covers so much territory that it is represented here by two short excerpts, showing both a silent group section and a dynamic duet.
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble
Barrelhouse Blues, 1996
This early duet by Katherine Dunham was presented during the first Pillow engagement of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.
There are multiple layers to be mined in this solo by Ralph Lemon, which utilizes an interview with pioneering tap dancer LaVaughn Robinson (1927-2008) as its sound score.
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, 1990
One of the enduring classics of African-American dance, Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder finds artistry and poetry in the movement of an imaginary chain gang.
Urban Bush Women
Bitter Tongue, 1989
After having made their Pillow debut in 1988, Urban Bush Women returned the following season, again appearing under the auspices of a festival-within-a-festival known as Splash!
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, 1984
Seen here in her first Pillow performance, Blondell Cummings created her own unique style with roots in both sign language and photographic imagery.