One of our favorite parts about summer in the Berkshires is the mind-boggling diversity of cultural offerings, from theater to visual art, ethnic and food festivals, literature, and dance. And, lucky for us, we can claim as our own one of the oldest and best-regarded dance festivals in the world: Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts, which this summer brings 50 dance companies from around the globe to perform a variety of works, from traditional to avant-garde . . . with a few world and company premieres thrown in to boot (or is that to toe shoe?). Here are just a few of the shows we’re looking forward to:
Cedar Lake’s show run has already begun, but if you can get out to see them this weekend, drop everything and do it. Seriously. The company’s choreography is endlessly inventive, and the dancers—from all over the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia—are athletic and almost unfairly skilled.
Virtuoso alert: Indian-born, Paris-raised Shantala Shivalingappa is a master of Kuchipudi, a 2,000-year-old dance style that celebrates the divine. Her quick, agile footwork, beautifully flowing postures, and vibrant expression—performed to live music—are an absolute joy. And did we mention she’s worked with some of the world’s most influential dance artists, including choreographers Maurice Béjart and Pina Bausch?
A night at the ballet, this is not. With its blend of hip-hop, b-boy, and contemporary, the all-male cast of this Rio de Janeiro–based troupe practically explodes with excitement, masculinity, and the pure passion of living. The energy they bring to the stage is infectious.
After performing with shows like STOMP and dance celebs like Savion Glover, multi-award-winning tap dancer Michelle Dorrance—at the ripe old age of 31—founded her own company two years ago. “Tap dance?” you say. “Isn’t that kind of old-fashioned?” To which we reply, “You won’t believe what this woman can do.” Dorrance is lightning-fast, technically meticulous, and emotionally subtle, and her company’s not too shabby, either.
How many modern-day ballerinas can boast a repertoire of more than 50 ballets by choreographic luminaries like Balanchine, or a career that spans almost three decades? It’s no wonder Wendy Whelan is considered one of the best dancers of her generation. She’s partnered with four top male choreographers/dancers— Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo—for Restless Creature, a suite of contemporary duets.
Can you believe it’s been 100 years since the first staged ballet version of The Rite of Spring? To celebrate the anniversary, Martha Graham Dance Company is mounting a new production of their namesake’s 1984 interpretation—inventive style, powerful intensity, minimalist staging, and all. They’ll also be presenting two new contemporary dances, including one by brilliant Spanish stylist Nacho Duato.