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 Post subject: From Finland, the U.S. Premiere of "Borrowed Light"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 12:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Press Contact and Photos: French Clements
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Becket, MA-Riding a wave of critical acclaim, Tero Saarinen brings his
company and the Boston Camerata to the Ted Shawn Theatre July 19-23 for the
American premiere of Borrowed Light, an event with rare visual, aural, and
historic inspiration. Borrowed Light was developed by Finnish choreographer
Saarinen in collaboration with Joel Cohen, the director of the Boston
Camerata, America's pioneering early-music ensemble, and has driven
reviewers all over Europe to marvel at its breathtaking spiritual vision.
Jenny Gilbert wrote of its moving climax in London's Independent, "the dance
becomes a strange, violent and complex conduit for the struggle of will over
flesh. I've not seen, or experienced, anything like it." The work sets
shafts of cool, searing light against a monumental darkness, and blends
dancers, singers, set pieces and songs for an experience that, given its
setting in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre, promises to be the must-see
cultural event of New England's summer. Two Shaker songs on the program are
premieres of their own: the last time they were performed live in America
was in a Shaker community 150 years ago. In a related free event, Tero
Saarinen and Joel Cohen discuss their collaboration in an hour-long
PillowTalk, Wednesday, July 19 at 5pm on Sommerspace at Blake's Barn. Also
this week, on July 22 from 10am-1pm, the Pillow hosts its ninth annual
Community Day. For a glimpse of Saarinen's work, watch the 2006 season
overview video at

Performance and Ticket Information for Tero Saarinen Company: Evening
performances are Wednesday, July 19 through Saturday, July 22 at 8pm, with
matinées on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23 at 2pm. Tickets are $50
each, with a 10% discount available for seniors, students, and youth age 13
and under. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at
413.243.0745, faxing orders to 413.243.0749, or ordering online at Jacob's Pillow is located on George Carter Road in
Becket, MA, 10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2.

While Borrowed Light draws motivation from the traditions of Shaker
communities, Saarinen and Cohen have pointed out that this work does not aim
to recreate Shaker history or comment on their beliefs. Rather, with its
methodical, breathtaking progression and adaptability to metaphorical
Borrowed Light could be considered a companion to works in other fields that
set out to investigate the physical, spiritual, and collective capacities of
humanity. The work unites Saarinen's primal contemporary movement with the
Shakers' haunting, husky compositions, painstakingly recreated and
transcribed from previously unpublished original manuscripts by Joel Cohen.
While moving to melodies fragrant with a bygone time (with further titles
such as "In Yonder Valley" and "Mother Ann's Comforting Promise"), the
dancers are often tantalizingly off-balance or propelled by a cascade of
unexpected reverberations. As the dancers sweep across the stage in
collective movement, caught between reaching for the light and shrouding
their awareness of external forces, the audience begins to understand
Saarinen's emphasis on the vital, uplifting need for openness within a

Reviewers have noted how Saarinen's repertory bears a certain effortful
expansiveness-the choreographer himself has called it a "refined
grotesqueness"-that is drawn from the combination of his initial ballet
training with strains of butoh and Japanese and Nepalese folk dance. Of
particular influence was his work with butoh master Kazuo Ohno; though not a
slow work, Borrowed Light's dramatic use of costuming, sound, and lighting
reflects his keen appreciation for that stark Japanese (and lately Nordic)
form. Reviewers have also been repeatedly struck by the lighting design,
which is by Saarinen's longtime collaborator, Mikki Kunttu.

After Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff saw the world premiere of Borrowed
Light in France, she felt compelled to bring it to Jacob's Pillow for its
U.S. premiere. "There were so many interesting elements to this production:
a Finnish choreographer making a very contemporary work inspired by an old
and fascinating part of American history, one that is right in Jacob's
Pillow's neighborhood. Having the Boston Camerata, one of the great music
ensembles perform, is an extraordinary opportunity. The integration of the
dance, live music, costuming and lighting are beautiful and unusual. It's a
unique presentation that will not be seen anywhere else in the U.S."
Extensive planning for the piece's unique technical demands means that it
has taken two years for Borrowed Light to reach the Ted Shawn Theatre, whose
particular resonance (both historically and, being made out of wood,
literally) and time-honored construction methods (each enormous beam for the
theater was hewn from a single tree by a single man) make it one of the few
places in America where this work could appear with so much contextual
power. When the theatre-America's first venue built specifically for
dance-opened in the summer of 1942, New York Times critic John Martin seemed
to sum up the tenets of Shaker architecture (and foreshadow the nature of
Borrowed Light) in his description of the new building: "The area is high
and spacious, excellently ventilated by louvers and redolent with the odor
of pine wood. Yet with all its native color, it is a practical and
up-to-date theatre, innocent of any taint of quaintness or self-conscious
rusticity. Everything about it is designed for use with a functionalism
that is both modern and, in the frugal, straightforward New England
tradition, classic. There appears not to be a wasted nail or an unnecessary
board anywhere and the whole thing
operates smartly with a unity and efficiency that are themselves a form of
beauty." The phrase "borrowed light" comes from Shaker architecture; the
term describes the passage of light from one indoor area to another through
an ideally placed window or louver, usually high on a wall. The purpose was
to allow the greatest amount of daylight inside so that working hours could
be maximized.

Over the course of his seven-year career with the Finnish National Ballet,
Tero Saarinen developed into a promising lead dancer and performed a number
of solo roles with the company. In 1992, determined to supplement his
awareness of movement, he set out on his own and studied with leading
teachers in Western Europe, Tokyo, and Kathmandu. Upon returning to the
European performance circuit in 1993, he gained immediate attention for his
broadened technique and newly honed creative vision. Just a year later, he
made a work for Israel's Batsheva Dance Company, Flock. Then followed a
host of commissions and, in 1996, the formation of his Company Toothpick,
later known as Tero Saarinen Company. After the group's debut two years
later in New York City, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times observed,
"Something fresh popped up on the dance horizon. . . it was enough to
suggest that the troupe, with three powerful male dancers, should return
soon. Like much Finnish design, 'Westward Ho!' was striking in its sense of
color and composition, focused on clarity of line. Add the force of
controlled energy, channeled into repeated geometric shapes and occasionally
erupting into whiplash twists and turns." Along with a host of other
national and international awards, Saarinen has repeatedly won multi-year
grants from Finland's National Arts Council, and in 2004 received the title
of Chevalier from France's Order of Arts and Letters, a distinction shared
also by Joel Cohen and Ella Baff.

The director of the Boston Camerata since 1968, Joel Cohen has become a
worldwide authority on medieval and Renaissance musical performance. A
resident of Boston and Paris, he studied composition at Harvard University.
After winning a Danforth Fellowship, he spent the next two years in Paris
studying under the seminal musician Nadia Boulanger. The recipient of
widespread acclaim as a performer, conductor and writer, he has taught and
lectured at many East Coast universities, was a commentator on WGBH's
"Morning Pro Musica," and is well known in Europe for his radio commentary
on early music topics. Founded in 1954, Cohen's ensemble seeks "to preserve
and reawaken human memory as expressed through the art of music." The
group's performances, primarily of European and American music from the
Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras, are informed by deep study and
historical research and, since the group began touring internationally in
1974, have defined them as one of the world's foremost ensembles dedicated
to the particular demands of early music. In 1995 the Camerata, guided by
Cohen, recorded a number of virtually unknown Shaker songs. (The two works
not sung live in America since before the Civil War, and even then only
within Shaker communities, are "Repentance" and "Verdant Grove.") It was
this album that Saarinen happened to pick up a few years later, and because
he had been struck very recently by Doris Humphrey's classic dance work
entitled The Shakers, Saarinen felt
doubly obligated to delve into this extraordinary facet of American culture.
After contacting Cohen to discuss a partnership-and finding a shared
fascination-, the duo extensively researched the work, even visiting the
four surviving Shakers at the Sabbathday Lake community in New Gloucester,

The United Society of Believers was a religious sect of Christianity founded
in 1747 in Manchester, England, and soon came to be known pejoratively as
the "Shaking Quakers," then finally the Shakers, after outsiders witnessed
adherents' convulsions of spiritual experience. The world knows Shakers for
their vastly influential sense of aesthetics, but in addition to their
belief in a Godhead and a personal understanding of Jesus known as
Christology, Shaker tenets included celibacy, pacifism, and the sharing of
goods and wealth. Led by their spiritual leader Mother Ann Lee, who was
considered by her followers to represent the Second Coming and underwent a
series of visions while imprisoned in England for her heretical beliefs, the
Shakers moved to America in 1774, initially settling in Niskayuna, outside
Albany, New York. Each area of Shakers was intended to provide a livelihood
approaching that of heaven while still on earth, and the first of these more
permanent communities was set up in New Lebanon, New York, just across the
border from Jacob's Pillow. Another center was closer to the Pillow, in
Hancock, Massachusetts, a village which continues today as one of the
foremost examples of Shaker life. Eventually eighteen communities were
established in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, Ohio,
Indiana, Georgia and Florida. The Shaker population reached its height in
the decade preceding the Civil War, numbering around five thousand.

Free Events at the Pillow This Week
PillowTalks in Blake's Barn: Wednesday, July 19 at 5pm, choreographer Tero
Saarinen and Joel Cohen, director of the Boston Camerata, examine Saarinen's
new work and its sources. Saturday, July 22 at 4pm, there is a special
treat for any patron intrigued by the Pillow's illustrious past: Director of
Preservation Norton Owen looks back on his thirty years at Jacob's Pillow
with a special sampling of stories and video clips. In addition, attendees
are invited to share their own Pillow memories for a special exhibition
commemorating the Pillow's 75th anniversary in 2007.

Inside/Out performances at 6:30pm: Wednesday, July 19, with sumptuous
costuming and riveting performers, the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble previews
work from its run in the Doris Duke Studio Theatre this week. Erica Essner
Performance Co-Op shows their wide-ranging and visually provocative
repertory on Thursday, July 20. Hip-hop returns to the Inside/Out stage on
Friday, July 21, with olive Dance Theatre, a Philadelphia group whose works
defy the conventions of the genre. Saturday, July 22, is a special day at
Jacob's Pillow, with Community Day taking over the campus from 10am until
1pm. There are free performances, a number of activities for all ages
(including the observation of dance classes), food, ice cream, and
giveaways. That day, participants in The School's Contemporary Traditions
perform a work by Ohad Naharin, Israel's leading choreographer, to conclude
their second week of study. Throughout the day, the annual Archives Bazaar
offers the public a chance to pick up their own bargain photos, books,
programs and other dance mementoes culled from duplicates in the Pillow's
extensive Archives.

Ongoing Free Events include: Ted Shawn First, the first overview exhibition
ever mounted at the Pillow on the Festival's influential founder, in Blake's
Barn; Philip Trager: A Pillow Retrospective, featuring insightful images
from this master of portraiture, in the Ted Shawn Theatre lobby; Basil
Childers, with work from a rising star of the international dance
photography scene, in the Doris Duke Studio Theatre lobby; Picturing Shawn,
a survey of two-dimensional depictions of the man by diverse artists, in the
Reading Room at Blake's Barn; and the latest Highlights of the Collection,
on view in the venerable Bakalar Studio whenever rehearsals and classes are
not in session.


Jacob's Pillow is located in the town of Becket in the Berkshire Hills of
Western Massachusetts. The Pillow was originally the Carter family farm in
the 1700s, and in the 1800s served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Its pioneering spirit was furthered in 1933, when legendary dancer, teacher,
and choreographer Ted Shawn founded the Festival as a showcase for his
company of Men Dancers and as a home for dance in the U.S.

Jacob's Pillow now encompasses an acclaimed international Festival (the
first and longest-running dance festival in the U.S.), a professional
School, rare and extensive Archives open to the public free of charge, an
Intern Program, year-round Community Programs, and a Creative Development
Residency program. The historic site includes 161 acres, 31 buildings,
three unique stages (including the first theater in the U.S. built
specifically for dance), three dance studios, exhibition spaces,
restaurants, the Pillow Store, residential housing, administrative offices,
a health center, gardens, trails, and woodlands.

The Pillow presents dance from all over the world in all forms, styles, and
traditions, plus approximately 200 free events each season, including
performances, lectures, tours, film showings, exhibits, and talks with
artists from all over the world, which attract approximately 80,000 visitors

Pillow Founder Ted Shawn was instrumental in beginning the careers of Martha
Graham and Jack Cole, and the Pillow has continued this mentoring role by
providing early opportunities to artists such as Alvin Ailey, José Limón,
and Mark Morris. Companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Parsons
Dance Company have been seen at the Pillow for the first time anywhere, and
international groups such as The Royal Danish Ballet and Nederlands Dans
Theater have made their U.S. debuts here. World premieres have been
commissioned from masters such as Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor, and
legendary artists such as Margot Fonteyn and Mikhail Baryshnikov have been
showcased in new works.

In 2003, Jacob's Pillow was declared a National Historic Landmark by the
federal government as "an exceptional cultural venue that holds value for
all Americans." It is the first and only dance entity in the U.S. to
achieve this honor. The Pillow looks forward to celebrating its 75th
anniversary in 2007, and has launched its first endowment campaign, The Fund
for Jacob's Pillow, to help ensure its eminence and longevity for others to
enjoy in years to come.

Major support for Jacob's Pillow, as of April 2006, has been provided by:
The Dana Foundation; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Francis Alexander
Family Fund; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation; The Leir Charitable Trusts in memory of Henry J. Leir;
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Evelyn Stefansson
Nef Foundation; The William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation; The
Prospect Hill Foundation; The Ira M. Resnick Foundation; The Ridgefield
Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Starr
Foundation; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; National
Endowment for the Arts; U.S. Department of Education; ALEX®; Altria Group,
Inc.; American Express Philanthropic Program, Ameriprise Financial, Inc.;
Berkshire Bank Foundation; Canon, U.S.A., Inc.; TD Banknorth Charitable
Foundation; The Pillow Business Alliance; and Jacob's Pillow Members.

Jacob's Pillow is funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New
England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from Doris Duke
Charitable Foundation. Additional funding provided by The Ford Foundation
and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Major endowment support is provided by The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The
William Randolph Hearst Foundation; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state
agency; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Onota Foundation; The Prospect Hill
Foundation; and the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a
collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna
Foundation; and Jacob's Pillow Members.

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