The School Experience

The School at Jacob’s Pillow is a fully-immersive experience demanding stamina, perseverance, risk-taking, creative collaboration, and a full commitment to live and work as an artist. In all of The School’s programs, you are treated as a professional and learn from the field’s most revered choreographers, performers, and master teachers, who guide you inside, and outside, of the studio.

Training on the beautiful historic grounds of Jacob’s Pillow includes classes, rehearsals, discussions, and seminars led by an esteemed artist faculty six days a week. Time in the studio generally runs 9am to 5pm followed by an additional four to six hours of Festival experiences or evening rehearsals. Pillow studios are open to you 24/7.

The School is located in the state-of-the-art designed Perles Family Studio. Large windows bring the beauty of the natural setting inside as you dance and create. A dancers deck is perfect for journaling, talking to new-found friends and School supporters, meeting with Artist Faculty, relaxing between classes, or discussing last night’s performance. This space is more than a studio; it’s a space you will get to know as a home in your time at the Pillow and one frequently referred to by dancers as a “dance haven.”

Participants of The School; photo Em Watson

Immersion in Festival Life

Built into your schedule is free and immediate access to the Jacob’s Pillow Festival. As America’s longest-running international dance festival, the Festival runs offers more than 50 national and international dance companies from all over the world, giving over 150 performances on three stages over a ten week season. Some 300+ free performances, talks, tours, open classes, exhibits, book signings, film screenings, open rehearsals, and other events further share the art of dance.

Dancers in The School see five different companies each week, free of charge; a priceless education in and of itself. You will see work representing a full spectrum of choreographic and performance approaches, traditions, and innovations. The depth and breadth of ballet, contemporary, dance theatre, hip-hop, jazz, tap, culturally-specific dance, and other forms you will encounter at the Pillow, will inform your vision of what the possibilities in dance can be for you.

Dance scholars give pre-show talks before every performance, moderate post-show discussions with artists and audiences, lead hour-long PillowTalks with artists twice weekly, and are available in the Archives to answer questions and facilitate your research.

The Jacob’s Pillow Archives is home to a rich collection of videos, historic films, photographs, programs, costumes, and other materials; covering more than a century of dance. The School’s schedule includes time to research personal dance interests and assigned topics. You will find yourself alongside Festival artists using every ounce of spare time to expand your understanding of the gems you found at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, a curated online collection of videos filmed at the Pillow from 1933 to today. Visit now to browse and enjoy.

Contemporary Participant Mia J. Chong; photo Jamie Kraus

A Community of Artists

Dancers of The School are an international mix of young professionals and advanced level pre-professionals. Many are Grand Prix finalists, Presidential Scholars in the Arts, corps and company members, trainee/apprentice members, or upper division dancers in professional training programs.

The Festival community is comprised of choreographers, artistic directors, performers, collaborating artists, scholars, research fellows, and production and arts administration teams of interns and staff. Working with and alongside these professionals, fosters thought-provoking conversations and invaluable relationships for the future.

Major dance figures have been coming to Jacob’s Pillow since the 1930’s. Ted Shawn’s faculty and performers included Asadata Dafora, Bronislava Nijinska, Agnes De Mille, Pearl Primus, Maria Tallchief, Balasaraswati, Manolo Vargas, Joseph Pilates, José Limón, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, and Robert Joffrey, among many others. Today’s teaching roster continues to include the most distinguished and influential international dance artists of our time. You might find yourself chatting with Kyle Abraham after he observes class, browsing in The Pillow Store beside Michelle Dorrance, having lunch with Emily Molnar, mingling with Boston Ballet and Martha Graham Dance Company dancers at a cast party, or chatting with Sara Mearns after a Q&A session.

The School at Jacob's Pillow in the Norton Owen Reading Room; photo Morah Geist

THE SETTING

Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark and recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government; making the Pillow the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award. Dance professionals, lovers of dance, tourists, and other visitors travel here annually to experience and celebrate the art of dance.

Ted Shawn’s students and company members built and maintained much of the property, including roads, studios, wells, and housing. As a dancer at The School, you live on campus, residing near Festival artists, faculty, interns, and staff, in cabins with archival photographs of famous dancers lining the walls. Three meals a day are provided in the Stone Dining Room, which was hand-built in 1935 by Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers.

The 225-acre campus includes the historic, proscenium Ted Shawn Theatre, the black-box Doris Duke Theatre, an outdoor stage, five dance studios, exhibition galleries, the Archives, a health office, and a campus center for gathering or cross-training. There are also public food venues, The Pillow Store, gardens, and a woodland trail.

Dancers and staff still share responsibility in caring for the beauty, history, and integrity of the Pillow. They are charged in upholding core values of the Pillow and engaging the public in friendly conversations to help deepen understanding and support of dance. Once you become part of the Pillow community, you will always have an artistic home here.

LOCATION

We are located in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, near the Appalachian Trail. Other nearby cultural institutions are Tanglewood, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. New York City and Boston are each less than 3 hours away.

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Advance your artistry and become a part of dance history.

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