My little family of three just returned from our summer vacation. Aside from a short trip to the Big Apple in 2006, my husband and I have not indulged in a true holiday for several years now, instead spending time off visiting with family. Now that we have an infant son, vacations come with additional challenges (and rewards), so for our first attempt we chose somewhat familiar territory and a family-friendly destination – Massachusetts. We began and ended our trip in the city of Boston, with an excursion to The Berkshires in the middle. One of my favorite spots to visit while touring the quaint yet artistic villages of western Massachusetts is Jacob’s Pillow. Home to America’s oldest dance festival (in continuous operation), “The Pillow” was founded by modern dance pioneer, Ted Shawn, and is a landmark in dance history.
The summer festival hosts dance companies from around the world with performances on three stages, including the Inside/Out stage which offers free, often excerpted performances in a more relaxed (and picturesque) atmosphere – perfect for families with small children or those on a budget. Their community program offer classes to the general public, but dance artists or students can also apply for their school program for the summer, plus internships are available in the fall/winter too. Here is the jacobspillow.org contact page if you would like more information or directions.
From contemporary to ballet, Massachusetts has lots of dance going on. If you are nearby, planning a visit, or looking for educational opportunities allow me to offer a few links.
- Boston Ballet
- Earthdance Workshop & Retreat (Berkshires)
- Berkshire Ballet
- Northampton Center for the Arts (Western Mass)
- The Yard (Martha’s Vineyard)
- Massachusetts Academy of Ballet (Southwestern Mass)
- Dancer Universe Directories (summer study, workshops, etc. can be searched by state, city, or zip)
For more Jacob’s Pillow, you can visit their YouTube Channel. You can also dig a bit deeper with the book Barton Mumaw, Dancer: From Denishawn to Jacob’s Pillow and Beyond, a memoir by one of Ted Shawn’s male dancers, or How Beautiful Upon The Mountain: A History Of Jacob’s Pillow, by Ted Shawn himself. Also, check out this video, The Men Who Danced: The Story of Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers and the Birth of Jacob’s Pillow 1933-1940 and this heartfelt article about Ted Shawn’s connection to Springfield College.