Jacob’s Pillow Presents Pacific Northwest Ballet

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BECKET, Mass. - Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), one of the most prominent ballet companies in the United States under the artistic direction of former New York City Ballet star Peter Boal, will perform an exclusive program of the work of Ulysses Dove, August 19-23, in the Ted Shawn Theatre.

Lauded as one of the most innovative contemporary choreographers of the past 50 years, Ulysses Dove created work combining his distinct sense of speed and attack with sensuality, emotion, and power. Dove, a dancer with Alvin Ailey who became an internationally recognized choreographer, died in 1996 of an AIDS-related illness at the age of 49. He was mourned by many as the loss of a major choreographic talent.

Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform three works choreographed by Dove: Vespers, Red Angels, and Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven. Founded in 1972 and called “a company of rare abilities” by Clement Crisp of London’s Financial Times, PNB is one of the largest ballet companies in the United States. In July 2005, Peter Boal became Artistic Director, succeeding Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, who had served as Artistic Directors since 1977. The company of fifty-one dancers presents more than 100 full-length and mixed repertory ballet performances each year. The company has toured Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, and throughout the United States, and was last seen at Jacob’s Pillow in 2006.

”Peter Boal has guided Pacific Northwest Ballet to new heights,” comments Ella Baff, Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow. “As a former super-star of the New York City Ballet, he understands the highest standards of artistry and knows about dance-making of consequence. The work of the late Ulysses Dove should continue to be seen by new audiences and the program Peter is bringing to the Pillow is a stunner.”

“Having spent many hours in the studio with Ulysses Dove, I am especially proud to bring his work to the stage,” comments Peter Boal, Artistic Director of PNB. “Jacob’s Pillow was an important place for Ulysses and we are honored to return to the Pillow with a program of his work.”

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Dove graduated from Bennington College in 1970 with a degree in dance. After quickly becoming a standout principal dancer with Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dove was urged by Ailey to turn to choreography. After creating the 1980 solo Inside for Judith Jamison, he left the Ailey company to begin a freelance choreographic career creating significant works for American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Sweden’s Cullberg Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and others. Known for his definitive punchy movement style, other signature works by Dove include Night Shade (1982), Bad Blood (1984), and Episodes (1987).

Many Pillow connections are revealed in this exclusive program. In 1992, Ulysses Dove returned to the stage to partner Carmen de Lavallade in John Butler's Portrait of Billie as part of the Pillow’s Season Opening Gala. The Pillow has presented his work throughout the past 20 years: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company performed Vespers in 1990 and RhythMEK performed Episodes in the Doris Duke Theatre in 2000. Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, a work originally created for the Royal Swedish Ballet, was also performed at the Pillow by the company’s chamber troupe Stockholm 59° North in 1997 and 2000. Before becoming artistic director of PNB, Peter Boal performed with New York City Ballet for 22 years and was part of the original cast of Dove’s Red Angels, along with Darci Kistler, Wendy Whelan, and Albert Evans. Boal himself performed in the Ted Shawn Theatre in 2004 with Peter Boal and Company, before returning to the Pillow as director of PNB in 2006.

Vespers was premiered in 1986 by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and is full of drama, energy, and strong gestural phrases. The work is known to be inspired by Dove’s grandmother's churchgoing and the way in which she “released" her own mother's spirit after death. Six women dance barefoot in black gowns and explode across the stage, abandoning and returning to a set of chairs. Mikel Rouse's percussive score matches the dancers' drive in this ballet with stark lighting by William Grant III.

The Royal Swedish Ballet premiered the elegiac Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven in 1993 and performed the American premiere of the work in 1996, as part of “For the Love of Dove,” a tribute held one week after the choreographer’s death. The work is set to Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, by Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. It is comprised of three sections: love, friendship, and letting the spirits go, and dancers move with a somber fluidity suggesting sorrow and loss. This work is performed en pointe.

Red Angels is a choreographic counterpoint to the gentle Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven. Set to Maxwell's Demon by Richard Einhorn, a score for a five-string electric violin, this abstract ballet for four dancers highlights power and athleticism. Red Angels was commissioned by the New York City Ballet as part of its 1994 Diamond Project. Dove described the work, "I wanted to deal with aspects of the Balanchine esthetic I find appealing: the speed, legginess, the formality.” Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times commented on Red Angels, “Dove takes the audience into a different world, alienated but hot with sublimated passion.”
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Berkshires Beat: Beckett-Chimney Corners YMCA Receives $500 Community Spirit Grant

Camp grant

Beckett-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket has been awarded $500 from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program. An employee of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care nominated the organization for the award. Funds will be used to provide scholarships to campers in need. 

To commemorate those Harvard Pilgrim members who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, Harvard Pilgrim and the foundation created the Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program. This program allows each Harvard Pilgrim employee to award a $500 grant, completely funded by the Foundation, to the local charity of his or her choice each calendar year. Since this community grants program began in 2002, Harvard Pilgrim employees have directed more than $6.8 million to thousands of organizations throughout Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In 2019, 96 percent of Harvard Pilgrim employees participated in at least one form of service or giving through volunteering, the Mini-Grants program, or Harvard Pilgrim’s annual Employee Fundraising Campaign.

"We are so fortunate to have generous and dedicated employees who enrich our company and the communities in which we all live and work," said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation. "The mini-grant program is a wonderful way to support our employees as philanthropists and to help them make an impact in their own cities and towns.”


Trails opened

Mass Audubon has re-opened trails on many of its wildlife sanctuaries across the state, from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to Worcester County, the Connecticut River Valley, and the Berkshires. Its nature centers and other buildings remain closed at present, but after careful analysis and discussions with local officials and community leaders, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit is welcoming its members and other visitors to miles of trails on two dozen wildlife sanctuaries.

In Berkshire Country, the newly re-opened trails include Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield, Pleasant Valley in Lenox and Tracy Brook in Richmond.

The re-opened sanctuaries have been selected based on a variety of conditions, including being able to manage capacity for expected level of use (both on the trails and in the parking areas) as well as support from the communities where they are located. Additional sanctuaries will opening in the coming weeks. To see which sanctuaries are now open and learn how best to responsibly share their trail systems with others, visit the website.

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