Inspired by Ancestors
In its broadest definition, an ancestor can be any person from whom one is descended. So the examples here include historical figures, family members, or other forebears who have inspired dance artists to create something new in response to someone who has come before.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Star Dust, 2023
Choreographer Dwight Rhoden envisioned a full-evening tribute to David Bowie when he created its first section, Star Dust, which stands on its own as a celebration of Bowie’s music.
Presented as the penultimate offering at a celebration of Chet Walker’s life, this moving solo is accompanied by a recording of Walker himself singing Charlie Chaplin’s classic tune.
Âs Nupumukômun (We Still Dance), 2023
This work by Mar Parrilla was developed in collaboration with the cast and dedicated to Micah H. Washington (Brave Deer).
Kyle Marshall Choreography
The final speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. serves as the soundscape for this solo by Kyle Marshall.
Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company
D-Man in the Waters, 2000
Demian Acquavella was known as “D-Man” when he danced with the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company, and this work was dedicated to his memory after he died of AIDS at the age of 32.
Unsung Sheroes of the 20th Century, 2022
The title provides a good indication of how this tribute is framed overall, while this section of the work salutes Juanita Pitts, one of Dormeshia’s inspirations.
My Roots, 2022
It’s understandable that Irene Rodríguez would want to create an homage to her Cuban roots and forebears soon after emigrating to the United States.
Urban Bush Women
Walking With 'Trane, 2019
‘Trane was the nickname of John Coltrane, the influential jazz musician who inspired this tribute by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Samantha Speis.
Maya Beiser & Wendy Whelan
THE DAY, 2019
With choreography by Lucinda Childs, music by David Lang, and performances by Maya Beiser and Wendy Whelan, this meditation on the events of September 11 concerns itself primarily with memory.
Halfway to Dawn, 2019
The music and life of composer Billy Strayhorn are the twin inspirations for this full-evening work by choreographer David Roussève, celebrating a figure who often worked in Duke Ellington’s shadow.
Elvis Everywhere, 2017
This full-evening work by Mark Dendy and Stephen Donovan scrutinizes society’s fascination and obsession with celebrity.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Her Door to the Sky, 2016
Jessica Lang’s ballet was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, specifically her Patio Door series which is referenced in the scenic design devised by Lang herself.
Israeli-born choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created this three-part work with sections devoted to the visual artists M.C. Escher, Francis Bacon, and Mark Rothko.
Trey McIntyre Project
Mercury Half-Life, 2014
Trey McIntyre evoked Queen’s Freddie Mercury in both the title and music of this work, which was the last dance presented by McIntyre’s company before it disbanded in 2014.
For Nina, 2013
For her Pillow debut engagement, b-girl Ephrat Asherie chose to salute jazz musician Nina Simone, set to an inimitable recording of Simone singing Jacques Brel.
Jason Samuels Smith
A Song For My Father, 2009
The subject of Jason Samuels Smith’s dedication—his father, percussionist JoJo Smith—may be glimpsed accompanying his son towards the end of this clip.
Kun-Yang Lin Dancers
Taiwanese-American choreographer Kun-Yang Lin dedicated this work “For my father and those we have lost.”
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
I Remember Clifford, 1995
Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown was remembered by choreographer Twyla Tharp in this dance seen here in its world premiere engagement.
After the Stuttgart Ballet’s John Cranko was killed in a plane accident, Sir Kenneth MacMillan created this dance in his memory, which here made a fitting memorial to the dance writer Walter Terry.
O Brother Sun and Sister Moon (A Study of St. Francis), 1981
Ted Shawn created this homage to St. Francis in 1931 and continued to perform it for the rest of his life, which made it the perfect vehicle for Barton Mumaw to present in his final Pillow performance.