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Jacob's Pillow

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The Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Photo by Nancy Tutko


Known as a unique home for dance since its first public performances in 1933, Jacob's Pillow is the longest running festival of its kind in the United States. As a center for performances, educational programs, and archival activities, the Pillow continues to draw increasing numbers of participants and audiences to its rustic location in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts for ten weeks of diverse activity each summer. Recognizing its cultural significance, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior has designated Jacob's Pillow as a National Historic Landmark. First established as a family farm in 1790, the Pillow site achieved notoriety in the mid-1800s as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It became the home base for Ted Shawn's Men Dancers in the 1930s, expanding its scope under Shawn's leadership from 1942 until his death in 1972. As a champion of all kinds of dance and dancers—from Balasaraswati and Asadata Dafora to Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alvin Ailey, and Mark Morris—the Pillow provides exposure to the widest possible range of artists and companies. Its ongoing mission is to support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation. www.jacobspillow.org

Pictured above: The Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the country's oldest theater for dance. (Photograph by Nancy Tutko; from the archives of Jacob's Pillow, Becket, Massachusetts.)


Essay by Rachel Straus -- Selected resources