I want to share a story with you about Jacob's Pillow. It is a place that has influenced the lives of so many dancers, including my own.
My story begins in 1949, when a seventeen year old named Ginny Guernsey traveled from Louisville, Kentucky on a full scholarship to study dance with Ted Shawn at The School at Jacob's Pillow. Ginny was a favorite of Mr. Shawn's, as well as the protégé of one of his beloved former dance partners, Mary Long Hanlon.
Ginny loved her days at the Pillow. She soaked it up like a sponge, savoring every insight she received from her teachers, and the many performances she experienced. Now at 81, she speaks of her Pillow experience as being pivotal in pointing her toward a passion for teaching ballet, which she did tirelessly for the next 60 years.
"Miss Ginny", as she became known, was my first ballet teacher. Not only did she instill in me a great love for dance, but I credit her with developing within me, what I call, my "dancer DNA." From the time I could walk, I was in the studio with her watching her move and trying to follow along. She taught me how to access my creative imagination while also teaching me the essentials of ballet technique. She made the challenges of ballet fun, interesting and worth devoting a lifetime to daily practice. Her passion for dance was nurtured by the Pillow, and she passed that passion down to me.
Last summer, I had the great fortune to spend time at the Pillow. I taught master class at The School at Jacob's Pillow and premiered my "debut" project Restless Creature in the Ted Shawn Theatre. Time spent at Jacob's Pillow was a wonderful reminder of the dancer DNA living within me.
I ask myself anew: What is it that makes me want to dance? Why do I spend time in the studio creating new work? Where would I be without the guidance of my elders and the great history from which we come? What is it all worth, if not to share the art form with students, choreographers, fellow performers and audiences?
The answers lie within the simplicity, the intimacy and the history of Jacob's Pillow. This is what I am about, and why I return to the studio day after day in pursuit of discovery and innovation. This mission, this philosophy, this profound unspoken magic that feeds the DNA of all dance, is alive and well at Jacob's Pillow.
I hope you will join me in my support of Jacob's Pillow and the tremendous offering it brings to the world of dance--past, present, and future.
A Letter from Wendy Whelan
"I hope you will join me in my support of Jacob's Pillow and the tremendous offering it brings to the world of dance-past, present, and future." -Wendy Whelan