Jacob's Pillow expands online video initiaitive big-time

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BECKET — Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is launching on Monday a major expansion of its popular curated online video collection, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive.

The site features a series of multimedia essays from renowned dance scholars on three distinct themes: Tap, Women in Dance, and Dance of the African Diaspora. Contributing scholars include The New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert on Tap; Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence and contemporary dance historian Maura Keefe on Women in Dance; and dancer, dance historian, and scholar John Perpener on Dance of the African Diaspora.

This expansion was designed by Barrel, project managed by Jennifer Edwards, and made possible with generous support from the Media Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive allows us to bring our stages to people across the globe," Jacob's Pillow Director Pamela Tatge says in a news release. "This new expansion highlights the depth and breadth of the Archives and offers a significant contribution to the dance field."

"Many months of research, planning, writing, design, and implementation have been invested in getting us to this point," Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen says in the same news release. "We have long wanted to make the experience of exploring our resources more available to anyone anywhere at any time, and we're enormously excited to now share the results of these efforts."

The newly-launched editorial platform of Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive features more than 30 essays on topics richly archived and relevant to conversations surrounding today's dance industry. Each essay includes archival materials of various media, including video interviews with artists, scans of original printed programs, photographs, and rare performance excerpts, resulting in a simulated, expert-led tour through the extensive Archives.

Keefe's Women in Dance theme features more than 20 female choreographers including popular artists of today—Jessica Lang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Crystal Pite—as well as modern dance masters Twyla Tharp and Trisha Brown, among many others.

Seibert's articles tell the story of tap at Jacob's Pillow and beyond, featuring iconic tap artists Dianne Walker, Jason Samuels Smith, and beloved Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient Michelle Dorrance.

Perpener's essays take a look at the pioneering work of Asadata Dafora, Pearl Primus's first Pillow performance in 1947; artists more recently at the Pillow such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and dives into the deep history of African American heritage at Jacob's Pillow.

The Themes/Essays portion of the site can be viewed at: https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/themes-essays/

This launch encompasses roughly half of the essays that will populate the site, with others to be added in the weeks ahead. In addition, the NEA Media Arts Program has already approved funding for the further development of the Themes/Essays resource, with additional themes, curators, and essays to be chosen and developed later this year.

The launch of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive editorial platform follows the recent unveiling of the online Archives site which offers a complete set of digitized programs from throughout the Pillow's 84-season history. These documents include everything from the first performance in the Ted Shawn Theatre (a 1942 premiere by Agnes deMille) to this past season's programs including commissioned essays from Pillow Scholars-in-Residence. Thousands of digitized photos are now available including 1930s snapshots of Ted Shawn's Men Dancers, many previously-unseen portraits of Pillow artists, and recent performance shots by Festival Photographer Christopher Duggan.

The site includes catalog records for nearly 7000 videos in the Archives, hundreds of which are linked to online highlights that are instantly viewable through Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. In addition to these features, any dancer who has ever performed at Jacob's Pillow, including thousands of former students, may also be searched by name.

Blake's Barn, home of the Archives, houses tens of thousands of photographic prints and negatives; hundreds of boxes of correspondence; 9,000 films and videos from as early as 1894 to today; 6,615 online catalog records describing archival resources; and almost 30 trunks of costumes worn by dance icons Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, and others.

In addition, approximately four terabytes of digital HD video and hi-resolution photos are produced each year, documenting performances, rehearsals, talks, events, and oral histories by international dance artists. The essays integrate these rarely-seen resources—clips of video interviews, images, scans of original printed programs, documents, performance clips—as both support material and as a deeper point of entry into the Archives.


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