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No Rest at the Pillow 

click to enlarge Edward Clug of Ballet Maribor performing in “Radio and Juliet,” set to music by Radiohead.
  • Edward Clug of Ballet Maribor performing in “Radio and Juliet,” set to music by Radiohead.


The hosts at Jacobs Pillow have been busy. Once again, they’ve prepared a season packed with genre-bending performances plus talks, tours, classes, and exhibitions. Works will be performed by some 50 companies from around the world. Fresh from his 90th birthday celebration in April, which included the premiere of a new work, the legendary Merce Cunningham will present three works representing three decades of his career. For his dance “eyeSpace,” the audience will get to create the score by using iPod Shuffles provided during the performance.

Kinetic choreography by Doug Varone and Dancers will include the sumptuous “Lux,” set to music by Phillip Glass. Varone is one of those rare artists who offers both insight and elucidation when he explores emotional terrains. Whether he’s being thoughtful or humorous, his fluid movements and exceptional energy make for breathtakingly beautiful choreography.

The New York-based Ballet Hispanico is known for creating its own kind of fusion between ballet, modern, and Latin dance. In this poignant program, dedicated to director Tina Ramirez, who will be stepping down after almost 40 years, a revival of their renowned “Club Havana” is set to spice things up and reveal their true, feisty style.

Somewhat lesser-known but sensational nonetheless, hip-hop company Rennie Harris Pure Movement (with live bucket drumming) and Barbara Duffy’s all-female tap company (inspired by the late Gregory Hines) are sure to draw crowds this season, and Doug Elkins and Friends promise some side-splitting humor with “Fräulein Maria.” Danced to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music, the score is the only thing this piece has in common with the musical.

Spanish-born flamenco dancers Belén Maya and Rocío Molina will perform with master musicians and vocalists, and Romanian choreographer Edward Clug offers a new take on Shakespeare with “Radio and Juliet,” set to music by Radiohead.

A US premiere by the Taiwanese company LAFA & Artists combines humor and acrobatics with modern choreography that is powerful, elegant, and witty. Canadian Crystal Pite, former dancer with William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet, brings her company Kidd Pivot, dancing in a similarly complex and fluid style.

Based in New York but composed of dancers and choreographers from several countries, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet burst on the scene in 2003 with a unique blend of modern and ballet simmered to perfection. The edgy and whimsical choreography they present continue to make them one of the hottest tickets in dance.

Budget-conscious ballet-goers can take advantage of the free performances on the Inside/Out stage, or some of the 20 free talks by performers and other dance professionals. Topics include: Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe, Mapping Movement (discussing both dance notation and how world leaders move), Erick Hawkins’ life and work in what would have been his centennial year, Doug Varone on making dances during these complicated times, and a salute to the illustrious, departed dancer-choreographer, Ulysses Dove.

Exhibition highlights include Jules Feiffer’s dance cartoons, Cunningham’s artistic collaborators, a tribute to the Alvin Ailey Company’s 50th anniversary, and the art of tap—plus the Pillow’s public archives of 70 years of dance memorabilia are always on view in Blake’s Barn.

The only dance organization declared a National Historic Landmark, the 163-acre site offers enough activities that you can plan to spend all day there. Nature trails and gardens are available for your enjoyment, and morning Pilates and dance classes are offered regularly, as are afternoon talks and outdoor sunset performances. Casual fare and libations are available at the on-premises café and pub to tide you over till the show. (Preshow talks are 15-minutes before ticketed performances, postshow Q&As right after.)

Delicious.

(413) 243-0745; www.jacobspillow.org.

Speaking of...

  • Jacob’s Pillow kicks off its summer dance season in the Berkshires.

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