The School at Jacob's Pillow announces 2016 Programs

The School at Jacob's Pillow announces 2016 Programs

Published on January 25, 2016
Milton Myers with Jacob's Pillow students. Photo by Karli Cadel.

with Anna-Marie Holmes, Milton Myers, Chet Walker, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar as Program Directors


The School at Jacob’s Pillow will hold auditions in NYC for two 2016 Professional Advancement Programs:

The School at Jacob’s Pillow will hold auditions in NYC for two 2016 Professional Advancement Programs: Contemporary and Improv Traditions, and Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz.
Led by internationally-acclaimed dance artists in a master class format, no cuts are made during the auditions, providing an excellent opportunity for dancers to take a full professional class, gain audition experience, and learn more about The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Find out more about Jacobs Pillow auditions here.

In the summer of 2016, The School at Jacob’s Pillow, a world renowned center for professional dance training with diversely experienced and international artists will present Professional Advancement Programs in Ballet, Contemporary, Musical Theatre Dance, and a new program titled Improv Traditions & Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz. These programs will take place during the 84th annual Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, led by a highly-distinguished artist faculty, and offer an incomparable combination of studio, performance, and Festival experiences.

At The School at Jacob’s Pillow, pre-professional students and early-career professional dancers from around the globe are immersed in an intense professional training environment involving classes, rehearsals, and coaching sessions six days a week, and are given rare opportunities to perform weekly for Festival audiences. The 2016 Program Directors include ballet luminary Anna-Marie Holmes; Ailey School and Juilliard faculty member Milton Myers, who celebrates his 30th year of mentoring and coaching at The School at Jacob’s Pillow; Broadway veteran, choreographer, and director Chet Walker; and the esteemed founder of Urban Bush Women Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The Program Directors will be joined by dance artists, choreographers, and artistic directors from across the globe.

Anna-Marie Holmes. Photograph by John Kane.

From June 13-16, Ballet luminary Anna-Marie Holmes and a distinguished international faculty prepare dancers for the artistic range and technical rigor required by today’s world-class ballet companies. Choreographer Yury Yanowsky, recently retired as principal dancer of Boston Ballet, will create and rehearse a new work on the dancers in just four days. Participants will perform its world premiere at the Festival’s Opening Gala on June 18, on a program with Festival 2016 artist Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and other artists. Dancers also receive in-depth coaching in renowned classical solo, pas de deux, and ensemble works by renowned choreographers, dancers, and teachers in the field. Select works learned during the program are performed June 25 as a part of the free Inside/Out outdoor performance series.

In her 16th season as Ballet Program Director, Anna-Marie Holmes remains an internationally acclaimed master teacher, choreographer, and dance luminary, as well as a recipient of the prestigious Dance Magazine Award and Emmy Award for her staging of Le Corsaire for American Ballet Theatre’s PBS Great Performance. Along with choreographer, and former Boston Ballet principal dancer Yury Yanowsky, faculty include American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Xiomara Reyes and NBA Ballet Artistic Director Koichi Kubo. Kansas City Ballet Music Director and Conductor Ramona Pansegrau serves as Ballet Program Music Director. Other Ballet Program Artist Faculty to be announced.

Founder of Urban Bush Women Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

Improv Traditions & Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz, which runs from June 27–July 10, is a brand new program at The Pillow. Program Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, in collaboration with an esteemed roster of choreographers, dancers, musicians, and scholars, will enable dancers to experience the rhythms, styles, and states of physical and mental being essential to embodying African American improvisational traditions and innovations. From Ring Shout to Blues to jazz. Dancers will share these practices with the public July 2 and July 9, as part of the free outdoor Inside/Out performance series.

Daily technique classes include somatic, strength training, vernacular, and modern dance followed by guest choreographer, musician, and scholar seminars. The day concludes with a work-in-progress rehearsal led by Zollar to experience the adaptations, interpretations, and innovations occurring over time that speak to the metaphorical, historical, and cultural practices of a people. Readings, film screenings, and discussions are also part of the day.

L-R: Jawole, Paloma McGregor and Catherine Dénécy backstage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. Photo by Crush Boone

Program Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. She currently holds the position of the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University. Zollar is recipient of a 2008 United States Artists Wynn fellowship, a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellowship, the 2013
Arthur L. Johnson Memorial award by Sphinx Music, the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and the 2014 Meadows Prize from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. Urban Bush Women has performed at the Festival six times, and Zollar is a former guest artist for The School’s Contemporary Program. Zollar will be joined by Harvard University PhD candidate in African & African American Studies Lizzy Cooper Davis; two-time Fullbright Fellow Award recipient Nia Love; company member and rehearsal director for Urban Bush Women Chanon Judson; Artistic Director of Junebug Productions Stephanie McKee; and choreographer, performer, and Urban Bush Women company member Samatha Speis. Grammy Award-winning pianist George Caldwell serves as Music Director.


Contemporary dance master teacher Milton Myers.

Under the direction of contemporary dance mentor and master teacher Milton Myers, studio work and performance experiences prepare dancers to meet the expectations and requirements of today’s most in-demand artistic directors. Supported by a stylistically diverse and highly-acclaimed faculty, From July 11-July 31, Myers will have new or repertory works set on the program participants by top choreographers in the field each week, which will be presented to the public as a part of the free outdoor Inside/Out performance series on July 16, July 23, and July 30. Guest choreographers for 2016 will include Ballet BC Resident Choreographer Cayetano Soto, Colombo-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Belgian designer and choreographer Stijn Celis.

Dancers are coached in multiple movement vocabularies, styles, techniques, and performance skills to deepen their ability to communicate choreographic intent and advance their development as articulate, versatile artists. Career discussions and daily classes in ballet, body conditioning, and contemporary dance are led by a distinguished master faculty. The Contemporary Program will coincide with the appearances of Festival artists Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street 2, BalletX, ZviDance, Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks, and ARIAS COMPANY. Participants of the program utilize Festival performances, the extensive dance Archives, and talks with artists and scholars as supplementary material to their training each day.

In his 30th year as the Contemporary Program Director, Milton Myers is recognized worldwide as a master teacher, acting as resident choreographer and instructor of Philadanco as well as a faulty member of The Ailey School, the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program, and The Juilliard School. Myers will lead a diversely talented faculty including Atlanta Ballet Resident Choreographer Helen Pickett; former choreographer for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Pamela Pribisco; former Juilliard School faculty member Alphonse Poulin; and the Artistic Director of the Dance Division at The Juilliard School Lawrence Rhodes, among others. Philadelphia-based composer, pianist, and synthesist John Levis serves as Music Director.

Musical Theatre Dance Program Director Chet Walker.

From August 1-22, Chet Walker invites award-winning Broadway choreographers, directors, composers/arrangers, and musicians to work collaboratively and create original numbers on dancers, with the same fast-pace and rigor required to audition and mount Broadway productions. Training reflects the necessity for well-versed and multi-faceted Broadway performers, focusing on dance styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop to Fosse and contemporary jazz, with one-on-one vocal training and career discussions with top artists in the field. In three weeks, dancers present excerpts of works for the public as part of the free outdoor performance series on August 6, 13, and 20. Working as an ensemble, the program will close with a cumulative performance of the works created on participants with a live band and guest alumni. A Jazz Happening will be presented on August 21 in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre with proceeds benefitting The School at Jacob’s Pillow.

Daily technique classes focus on styles seen on the Broadway stage today including ballet, jazz, musical theatre dance, hip-hop, and tap. Participants of the program will rehearse afternoons and evenings with choreographers and musicians and receive one-on-one vocal training, audition coaching, and career-building discussions as a part of the curriculum. The Musical Theatre Dance Program will coincide with the engagements of Festival artists Compagnie Hervé KOUBI, New York Theatre Ballet, Dorrance Dance, Adam H. Weinert’s MONUMENT, FLEXN, Pam Tanowitz Dance, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Souleymane Badolo. Attending Festival performances, public talks, exhibits, master classes, and studying in the Archives are integral to this immersion experience in dance.

Chet Walker and student during a workshop for Tony Awarded Best Musical Revival Pippin.

A prominently featured performer in the musicals of Bob Fosse, Chet Walker enters his 18th season as the Musical Theatre Dance Program Director. Conceiver of the Tony Award-winning musical Fosse, Walker is an internationally lauded director/choreographer, and Artistic Director of WALKERDANCE. As a choreographer, his work in the Tony Awarded Best Musical Revival Pippin earned a 2013 Tony Nomination for Best Choreography and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography. Guest choreographers and Artist Faculty for the program will be announced at Music Director for the Broadway's Rising Stars and Broadway Originals concerts at Town Hall in New York City since 2009, John Fischer serves as the Program’s Music Director.

More Information:
Visit for faculty bios and program updates.
More information on the 2016 auditions tour dates, scholarships and academic credit can be found here.



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