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Debuts Al Fresco

The outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage has been the site of many Pillow debuts, as were the two outdoor stages that preceded this venue in the same spot. These videos span the first four decades of a quintessential Pillow location.

16 performances

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Debuts Al Fresco

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LaTasha Barnes

The Jazz Continuum, 2021

Although LaTasha Barnes had performed at the Pillow with another company at the 2019 Gala, this marked her debut leading her own ensemble.

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Playing 1 of 16

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Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company featuring Sara Mearns

Rose Petals, 2019

Lori Belilove participated in a PillowTalk in 2008, but this performance marked her company’s first Pillow appearance.

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Playing 2 of 16

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Charlotte Ballet

When Breath Becomes Air, 2019

This work by Bryan Arias marked the Pillow debut of Charlotte Ballet, though they had performed at the Pillow in 1970 under their original name, North Carolina Dance Theatre.

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Playing 3 of 16

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Emma Portner

Lavender, 2018

Canadian choreographer/dancer Emma Portner is known for her online viral contemporary dance films and collaborations with artists like Justin Bieber and Elliot Page.

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Playing 4 of 16

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Calpulli Mexican Dance Company

Sones Jalicienses, 2016

After making their Pillow debut in the performance seen here, Calpulli returned two years later for another appearance on the outdoor stage.

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Playing 5 of 16

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Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater

Bolero, 2014

To close their Pillow debut engagement, Ensemble Español presented this signature work by their founder, Dame Libby Komaiko.

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Playing 6 of 16

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Ephrat Asherie

For Nina, 2013

In this debut engagement, b-girl Ephrat Asherie presented an ode to Nina Simone along with three group works.

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Playing 7 of 16

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Ko & Edge Co.

Improvisation, 2008

Legendary Butoh artist Ko Murobishi (1947-2015) improvised this solo in connection with his company’s Pillow debut.

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Playing 8 of 16

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Sunhwa Chung / Ko-Ryo Dance Theater

Of Love and Memories, 2007

Sunhwa Chung’s choreography reflects her background in traditional Korean dance as well as her training in ballet and modern techniques.

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Playing 9 of 16

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Kun-Yang Lin Dancers

Dedication, 2005

Kun-Yang Lin dedicated the solo seen here “For my father and those we have lost.”

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Playing 10 of 16

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Lutz Förster

For the Children of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 2003

Pina Bausch created this dance especially for the talents of German dancer Lutz Förster, who was once described as a cross between Fred Astaire and David Bowie.

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Playing 11 of 16

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Avila/Weeks Dance

The Dream of Heod and Miesra, 1995

While Homer Avila first came to the Pillow as a student in 1977, this marked his official debut as a performer with Edisa Weeks.

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Playing 12 of 16

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Soh Daiko, 1989

The taiko is a Japanese drum, and this is the first taiko group to be established on the East Coast.

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Playing 13 of 16

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Molissa Fenley

State of Darkness, 1988

This dynamic solo set to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” received renewed attention after a it was revived for a succession of prominent soloists at New York’s Joyce Theater in 2020.

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Playing 14 of 16

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Liz Lerman

Nine Short Dances about the Defense Budget and Other Military Matters, 1986

More than 30 years after this Pillow debut engagement, Liz Lerman was the recipient of the 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award.

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Playing 15 of 16

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