Rare footage of Ted Shawn in front of the Jacob’s Pillow barn on 16mm film? The exquisite Judith Jamison in a 1988 studio showing? A recent performance of Kyle Abraham’s smooth moves set to Dizzie Rascal? It’s all just a click away with Dance Interactive, an online library of Jacob’s Pillow performance clips dating back to the 1930s. This expansion of the Virtual Pillow site was launched in March, on the heels of receiving a National Medal of Arts from President Obama. Videos are sorted into easy-to-navigate categories (artist, genre and era) and reflect the festival’s wide range of curated dance.
“It’s like seeing movie previews,” says Norton Owen, director of preservation at Jacob’s Pillow and Dance Interactive’s curator. “It’s a sampling of the wide spectrum of dance that we present. This is an opportunity to learn something new and discover unfamiliar dance at a caliber you can trust.”
Each video links to other Pillow clips of choreographers and performers, creating an endless trail of footage to stumble over. And information displayed with the media gives viewers a snippet of historical context, as well as the hard facts: work title, music, choreographer and premiere date, as well as the recording date. Also, a multiple-choice game gives the option of guessing which historic artist you are watching. See danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org.
Photo: David Ananelli and Nina Ananiashvili perform Frederick Ashton’s Thaïs Pas de Deux at Jacob’s Pillow. (by Kristi Pitsch, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow)