Pillow Lab

Jacob’s Pillow’s year-round premiere dance center for research and development

Read about the 2019-2020 Pillow Lab Artists

The Pillow Lab is a residency program that supports U.S.-based and international dance artists during crucial development, research, and technical stages of choreography-driven projects, and offers the opportunity to work in the Pillow’s retreat-like atmosphere, regenerative landscape, and state-of-the-art studio spaces.

In its third year of serving artists, the Pillow Lab reimagined a residency program that has existed in various forms since the Pillow’s inception in the early 1930s. Built from a field-wide scan which included interviews with a diverse group of 36 U.S.-based choreographers and examined existing choreographic residency programs at peer institutions, the Pillow Lab fits into the overall national and international dance ecology with a distinctive mission, vision, set of values, and approach.

Go inside the Pillow Lab with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner John Heginbotham and acclaimed illustrator Maira Kalman:

Customized residencies offered through the Pillow Lab give artists the time and space to research and develop new work with varying levels of technical aspects and research components, including the opportunity to fund an essential “outside eye.” They include access to the Pillow’s Archives, free housing, a stipend, filmed archival video footage, and most conclude with a private, In Process Series showing for members at the $500 level and above and partners of the College Partnership Program that provide reactions, feedback, and questions. The work created during the residency may be at varying stages of development and may or may not be performed at the Festival. Artists that take part in the Pillow Lab are chosen through a closed selection process.

The 2019-20 Pillow Lab season includes 11 residencies, bringing artists from around the United States and one international company to the Pillow’s site.

The development of new work is of the utmost importance to the Pillow and the dance field at large.

Built from the Jacob’s Pillow mission to support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation; and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance, the Pillow Lab strengthens the artistic core of the Pillow while expanding opportunities for year-round programming. Realizing the goals of Vision ’22, the Pillow Lab enhances artist development while nurturing the process of choreography.

Creative development residencies have been offered to artists in past years, supporting hundreds of artists including Mark Morris and Yo-Yo Ma, Big Dance Theater, Kate Weare, Kyle Abraham, Jessica Lang, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, Bryan Arias, Suzanne Farrell, The Cambodian Project, Kimberly Bartosik, Jodi Melnick, Monica Bill Barnes, Chet Walker, John Jasperse, Dorrance Dance, and many more. A more robust and varied program is now possible through recent upgrades to facilities, including the opening of the Perles Studio, the acquisition of stage lighting equipment for the Doris Duke Theatre, and the addition of winterized housing, allowing for technical and research residencies as well as artistic.

2019-2020 Pillow Lab Artists

A.I.M by Kyle Abraham

Founded by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award Winner and MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham, A.I.M returns to Jacob’s Pillow for a technical residency for Abraham’s An Untitled Love. This evening-length dance work is sonically rooted in R&B and soul music. Comprised of the catalog of Grammy Award-winning R&B legend D’Angelo, this work serves as a creative exaltation, centered on the often overlooked love and unity that exists within the black community.
 
Aligning with the company’s mission, Abraham’s work focuses on the African-American communal experience, and its intersection with the personal or individual experience. For An Untitled Love, Abraham addresses a specific aspect of black culture in the United States—‘Black Love’—exploring its many and various definitions within the community and individually, through movement joined with music.
 
Explore A.I.M by Kyle Abraham on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion in Dearest Home.

Aszure Barton

Choreographer Aszure Barton is an innovator of form with an impressive career that includes choreographing for the Bavarian State Ballet, the English National Ballet, and the National Ballet of Canada, as well as facilitating the evolution of highly specialized dance companies into the present. In 2002, she founded her own company, Aszure Barton & Artists, with whom she has developed a comprehensive choreographic language.
 
Barton’s time at the Pillow Lab will be dedicated to exploring the substantial technical and visual elements of WHERE THERE‘S FORM (#WTF). This new work, created in collaboration with distinguished experimental German pianist and composer Hauschka, explores an intensive dialogue between dance and music. Barton and Hauschka work to collaboratively reveal passionate, smart bodies, and sounds, which demonstrate humanity’s capacity for coexistence.
 
Explore Aszure Barton on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
ASzURe & Artists in Lascilo Perdere (A journey of letting go).

Brian Brooks

Brian Brooks is an award-winning choreographer and a Mellon Creative Research Fellow at the University of Washington’s Meany Center for the Performing Arts. Brooks has created works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Miami City Ballet, and his own New York-based company, Brian Brooks Moving Company.
 
In his most recent project, Brooks investigates dancing in the intimate spaces between our bodies on stage and the virtual space created through immersive technologies. During his residency at the Pillow Lab, Brooks will further develop his motion capture project that began as part of his Fellowship. Using motion capture sensors to gather layered movement data, Brooks is building a movement analysis application that can be used by choreographers and dancers to support creative inquiry. This helps fuel his choreographic process as both a reflective and generative tool.
 
Explore Brian Brooks on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
Brian Brooks Moving Company in Motor.

Milka Djordjevich

Los Angeles-based choreographer Milka Djordjevich draws from a variety of compositional strategies to create work that questions preconceived notions of what dance should or should not be. Her work has been shown at venues including the Kitchen, the Chocolate Factory Theater, and the Whitney Museum, among others.
 
In the developing work CORPS, Djordjevich examines labor and the feminine body through the lens of regimented movement, revealing similarities across traditional, militaristic, ritual, athletic, and folk movement forms. The work is a continuation of Djordjevich’s ongoing questioning of contemporary dance’s preoccupation with neutrality, anonymity, and the de-sexualization of the female body. CORPS aims to unravel the history of patriarchal militaristic conditioning of regimented movement and reclaim its manipulation, control, and suppression of female bodies. The evening-length dance is developed with an esteemed professional group of six dancers: Laurel Atwell, Dorothy Dubrule, Allie Hankins, Tiara Jackson, Daeun Jung and devika wickremesinghe; as well as composer Chris Peck, lighting designer Madeline Best, and scenic designer Shannon Scrofano.

Alice Gosti

Italian-American Immigrant choreographer Alice Gosti creates and curates hybrid performance between Seattle and Europe. Gosti’s work has been commissioned and presented nationally by On the Boards, Velocity Dance Center, ODC Theater (SF), and Performance Works Northwest (PDX), among others, and internationally in Italy, including Associazione Culturale Dance Gallery and CAOS in Terni.
 
Gosti develops Where is home, a new interdisciplinary dance project, at the Pillow Lab. The multi-year dance project engages community and explores immigration. It will include performances, workshops, community meals, and interviews, documenting the diverse and vast immigrant experience. While in residence at the Pillow Lab, Gosti will develop several components of the ongoing project, including a gathering inviting local immigrants from Berkshire County to share an intimate meal and providing an opportunity to build community around the immigrant experience across age, social strata, and origin. This will act as the first steps towards putting together a large-scale performance created, performed, and designed entirely by immigrants from all corners of the U.S.

Kinetic Light

Under the direction and artistic leadership of Alice Sheppard, Kinetic Light is a project-based ensemble of three disabled artists committed to intersectional disability aesthetics and culture and accessibility as central parts of the art and creative process. Members include Sheppard (artistic director, choreographer, dancer), Laurel Lawson (technology lead, dancer, choreographic collaborator), and Michael Maag (lighting, video, and projection designer). Working in the disciplines of art, technology, design, and dance, Kinetic Light creates, performs, and teaches at the nexus of access, disability, dance, and race. In the ensemble’s work, intersectional disability is an aesthetic, a culture, and an essential element of their artistry.
 
Kinetic Light returns to the Pillow to further develop their newest work WIRED, an immersive dance experience of sound, light, and movement. WIRED traces the fine line between “us” and “them,” while studying the gendered, raced, and disabled stories of barbed wire, showing how it shapes common understandings of belonging. Kinetic Light has performed nationally with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts and the National Dance Project touring grant.
 
Explore Kinetic Light on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
Kinetic Light in Under Momentum

Stephanie McKee-Anderson

Stephanie McKee-Anderson is a New Orleans-based performer, choreographer, educator, facilitator, and cultural organizer, as well as a 2019-2020 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. McKee-Anderson is the Artistic Director for Junebug Productions Inc., the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater (FST), which was formed in 1963 as a cultural arm of the Civil Rights Movement. Her work is deeply committed to creating art that substantively reflects disparate conditions as a powerful tool for change.
 
The developing multidisciplinary project I Am My Mother’s Daughter...Black Women’s Love Legacy explores the love legacies told through the maternal line. McKee-Anderson hopes to weave together storytelling, dance, video projection, and audition recordings to map the maternal heart. She will begin with her own family to gather archives, artifacts, and stories that represent the different maternal love languages. McKee-Anderson is an alumnus of The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s Cultural Traditions Program.

Aakash Odedra

Aakash Odedra is an internationally acclaimed British contemporary dancer who has trained in classical Indian dance styles Kathak and Bharatanatyam. His early development in the United Kingdom was supported by Sampad, an organization dedicated to South Asian Arts in the U.K., and Akademi, the official home of South Asian dance in the U.K. Based in Leicester, U.K., Aakash Odedra Company exists as a vehicle for commissioning solos and for developing Odedra’s own choreographic work.
 
At the Pillow Lab, Odedra further develops the new work Samsara with Chinese collaborator Hu Shenyuan, considered one of the most outstanding dancers of his generation in China. Inspired by Wu Cheng'en’s classic 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West, this story of cultural exchange and common philosophy depicts the journey of Buddhist philosophy from India to China, inspired by the real life monk Xuanzang who undertook a pilgrimage in the 7th century.
 
Explore Aakash Odedra on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
Aakash Odedra performing Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s solo Constellation in RISING.

RUBBERBAND

Founded in 2002 by Victor Quijada in Montreal, the company RUBBERBAND is recognized worldwide for its innovation and significant contribution in dance and for its role in a new style inspired by breakdancing, classical ballet, and dance theatre. Since its founding, RUBBERBAND has staged 14 full-length productions and toured throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Mexico.
 
RUBBERBAND develops Trenzado, a new work that marks Quijada’s return to the stage as a dancer. In a poetic way, the work raises the question of what it is to be from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Quijada draws on his own background as a Canada-based American citizen of Mexican heritage and builds upon themes of roots, boundaries, homeland, and loss. The work is shaped in two parts, a solo and a group piece, and centered around a demountable aluminum structure by visual artist Sylvain Baumann. The production is set to original music by Jasper Gahunia—also present on stage—that reconfigures the traditional poignant Mexican musical genre of canto cardenche and deconstructs the norteño style (corrido and ranchera).
 
Explore RUBBERBANDance Group on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
RUBBERBANDance Group in sHip sHop Shape Shifting.

Didy Veldman

London-based Dutch choreographer Didy Veldman founded Humanoove in 2016 to discover new theatrical movement languages through research and collaboration. After a performance career that spanned 14 years with Scapino Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Alias Company, and Rambert Dance Company, Veldman has created over 45 works for 27 leading international companies including Cullberg Ballet, Goteborg Ballet, and Icelandic Dance Company. Since its founding, Humanoove has premiered two evening-length productions, The Knot and The Happiness Project, the latter of which had its U.S. premiere at Jacob’s Pillow during Festival 2019.

@HOME is a physical, theatrical, and compelling performance about who we are, how we fit in, and where we belong in our ever-changing world. Inspired by modern working lives spent travelling across borders, transforming hotels, airplanes, and trains into de facto homes, this new work explores the diminishing importance of family rites and rituals in today's globalized and digitally driven society. Performed by a diverse cast of dancers with music from composer Sabio Janiak and an interactive set design, this thought-provoking work questions whether we fear to go beyond our comfort zones and what it means to truly feel at home.
 
Explore Didy Veldman on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive:
Didy Veldman in “Women in Dance”.

Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre

Founded by choreographer Samar Haddad King, Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre (YSDT) creates invigorating performance and education programs that expand access to—and promote understanding through—the arts. YSDT believes art should be liberating, transformative, and accessible to all. The company operates out of New York and Palestine and is committed to uniting diverse artists and audiences in the creative process.
 
The developing work Last Ward continues YSDT’s vision to create work that unites audiences in the human experience and amplifies the narratives of marginalized communities. Written and directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi with choreography and music by Samar Haddad King, Last Ward blends dance and theater as it follows one man’s journey towards death in a hospital room. Surrounded by the sterile mechanisms of modern medicine, the patient reflects on his life, relationships, and connection to place as the ritual of doctor visits and family calls merge with his imagination into an increasingly bizarre landscape of tragedy and humor. Last Ward has been created across three continents—through residencies at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, at Chaillot Théâtre National de la Danse in Paris, and continues in its final creation period at the Pillow Lab.

Future of the Pillow

The Pillow Lab plays a vital role in strengthening the Pillow’s artistic core, a main thread of Vision ’22.

Learn more