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Numerical Titles

Many types of dances include numbers in their titles and here’s a generous sampling. Because of his momentous centennial year, Merce Cunningham leads off with a reconstructed clip from his Pillow debut, and three more newly-created clips follow. After that you’ll find lots more arranged in reverse chronological order, beginning with two clips from the 2018 season. Even though this is our most extensive Playlist yet, there are still more numerical titles not on the list. Use the Browse function to hunt for others!

22 performances

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Numerical Titles

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Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Septet, 1955

Merce Cunningham took the title of his work from the number of sections in Satie’s music. This dance was recorded on silent film in 1955, with music now added so that this rare footage may be enjoyed more widely.

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Playing 1 of 22

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Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie

See #1, 2007

This world premiere by James Kudelka was designated as “#1” because he envisioned a dozen different dances based on an unaccompanied violin sonata by the 17th century Bohemian composer, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Subsequent dances in this series have been created for a range of dancers over the past decade.

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Playing 2 of 22

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Donald Byrd/The Group

"Jazz 1" from Jazz Train, 1998

The three sections of Donald Byrd’s ambitious Jazz Train each had a commissioned score by a different jazz composer—this one by Max Roach. You’ll see two brief excerpts edited together here, as we found the group section especially compelling but wanted to also share some of the jazz music referenced in the title.

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Playing 3 of 22

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Contraband

Mira, Cycle II... The Fall, 1994

Inspired by the 16th Century Hindu poet, Mirabai, The Mira Cycle was a trilogy exploring the mystic and the journey to a higher self. In this particular section, emphasis was on Mirabai’s theme of the “dark one,” delving into the unseen part of the psyche.

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Playing 4 of 22

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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

The 40s, 2018

This evocation of the 1940s was a signature work for both Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and its founder, Lou Conte. It was included on the first seven programs Hubbard Street presented at the Pillow between 1983 and 1995, and therefore seemed like the perfect way to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary in 2018.

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Playing 5 of 22

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Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Eastman

Fractus V, 2018

Although it started out as a trio, this work by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui became a quintet by the time it premiered in 2015. In spite of the number reference in its title, Cherkaoui had remade it as a sextet by the time it was seen at the Pillow in 2018.

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Playing 6 of 22

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The Washington Ballet

Seven Sonatas, 2017

There’s no great mystery to this title, since Alexei Ratmansky chose seven piano sonatas by Scarlatti to be played live onstage to accompany this ballet. ABT’s Julie Kent was in the cast when it premiered, and she chose it to be among the first new works to be acquired by Washington Ballet after she took over as director.

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Playing 7 of 22

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Wendy Whelan & Brian Brooks

Some of a Thousand Words, 2016

Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan had worked on a previous duet as part of Restless Creature (with another numerical title, First Fall), and wanted to extend their partnership in this full-evening work. The section seen here is a solo for Whelan, though the onstage cellist adds a strong presence.

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Playing 8 of 22

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BalletX

Sunset, o639 Hours, 2016

The real-life inspiration for this ballet is reflected in the specificity of the title, which refers to the inaugural trans-Pacific airmail flight. The ballet is a collaboration between American choreographer Matthew Neenan and New Zealand composer Rosie Langabeer, linking their two cultures through the concept of transcontinental aviation.

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Playing 9 of 22

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Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, Anna Bass

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, 2015

This title’s numbers tell the audience exactly what to expect in terms of personnel—though there were still plenty of surprises emanating from the combined talents of Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, and Anna Bass.

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Playing 10 of 22

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BODYTRAFFIC

The New 45, 2015

The standard medium of the jukebox era, single-song vinyl records spun at 45 rpm and were familiarly known as 45s. It’s easy to see why Richard Siegal selected this title for a dance that is set to vintage tunes and possesses something of a jukebox flavor.

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Playing 11 of 22

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Pacific Northwest Ballet

TAKE FIVE...More or Less, 2014

The musical inspiration for this work is Dave Brubeck’s classic “Take Five,” which was written in the unusual time signature of 5/4. Choreographer Susan Stroman riffed on Brubeck’s title in naming her dance, though she makes it a comment on the instructions a dancer might be given for a rehearsal break.

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Playing 12 of 22

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Ephrat Asherie Dance

Step 4.2, 2014

Presented on the same program as Decadance’s (yes, another numerical title!), this duet marked the debut of Ephrat Asherie in one of the Pillow’s ticketed venues, following her initial appearance on Inside/Out in 2013.

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Playing 13 of 22

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La Otra Orilla

El12 (el doce), 2013

The number in this particular title is more than incidental, as the work was conceived as a multi-media exploration of the number twelve and its many symbolic and mystical associations.

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Playing 14 of 22

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3e Étage

Quatre, 2011

Here’s a double-whammy, as both the company name and the dance title are numerical. While the dance’s title comes from the French word for the number of people onstage, an injury in 2011 confusingly reduced the number of dancers to three. The full cast was present when the company returned two years later.

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Playing 15 of 22

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Henri Oguike Dance Company

Second Signal, 2007

The Taiko drums and onstage drummers dramatically increased the visceral impact of this London-based company, presenting the work of a Nigerian/Welsh choreographer.

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Playing 16 of 22

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Martha @ The Pillow

Debate 2002 / Three Seascapes, 2002

Here’s a mashup of two different works, each with numbers in their titles. Debate 2002 was the name given to an extraordinary conversation between postmodern pioneer Yvonne Rainer and Richard Move’s evocation of Martha Graham, while Three Seascapes is an excerpt from one of Rainer’s revolutionary works from the 1960s.

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Playing 17 of 22

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Compagnie Käfig

Dix Versions, 2001

This title is a play on words, which may be interpreted as “diversions” or simply the ten sections of this work, formatted to allow the ten dancers to display individual specialties.

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Playing 18 of 22

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Bill T. Jones

Three Dances, 2000

We don’t see all three dances here, of course, but this vintage Bill T. Jones solo offers a tantalizing taste of what has made this trailblazing creative artist such a formidable force in the performing arts world since the 1980s.

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Playing 19 of 22

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Trisha Brown Dance Company

Five Part Weather Invention, 1999

This world premiere commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow was based on a new composition by trumpeter Dave Douglas, organized into five parts. One of the sections that Trisha Brown created was known informally as “weather,” and the entire work had elements of improvisation embedded in it. Hence the title.

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Playing 20 of 22

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Stephen Petronio

#3, 1987

Not only is there a number in this dance title, but also in the title of the music—Lenny Pickett’s “Dance for Borneo Horns #5.”

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Playing 21 of 22

Ted Shawn's Men Dancers

Sixth Prelude from The Well Tempered Clavichord, 1933

Proving once again that everything new at Jacob’s Pillow has some kind of precedent, here’s one of the very first dances ever presented by Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers—with a numerical title taken directly from the music.

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Playing 22 of 22

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