The last thing I was expecting when I visited Jacob’s Pillow last month was to witness an amazing tap program presented at the In and Out Theater on a Saturday evening. My purpose in visiting that beautiful mecca of dance was to see my student, Brett Perry perform for the last time in the Ted Shawn Theater with the Trey McIntyre Project.
Who knew that the Program at Jacobs Pillow had a two week Tap Intensive with an epic faculty including Michelle Dorrance, Jason Samuels Smith, Sam Weber and Nicolas Young? At the end of each week they take to that beautiful infinity stage with the Berkshire mountains as a backdrop and present what they’ve been working on.
In this case it was exploring rhythms and was probably the smartest presentation of advanced Tap study I have ever seen.
Rather than present choreographic works, they presented rhythmic choreographic projects that will no doubt influence the lifetime work of the 25 or so advanced pre-professional or professional level dancers that participated.
It began with a glimpse at the genius of Sam Weber’s warm up and progressed through Michelle’s playful romp through time signatures. Nicholas presented a rhythm study based on the utterances found in his study of percussion and Jason rounded it out with a study called 5,6,7,8 that ran through layers rhythm patterns with the dancers shouting their downbeats and meeting each other at a common measures of 4/4 yelling 5,6,7,8. It was all so smart and such a classic study! I was told that week two would focus on integrating Jazz rhythms and stylings. I would have loved to see that week end program.
Layering time signatures has always been part of what I love to do and part of an exercise I incorporate into my Music Theory classes quite often, especially in the Teacher’s Training School setting. I was thrilled to see it explored on stage and by such masters. I can’t wait to play with it more in my classroom.
If you have advanced kids age 15 and up…..go to the Jacob’s Pillow web site and see how you can get them into this program! Or, if you are close enough to the Pillow…get up there next year and see their work.
P.S. Brett was amazing and although it is sad to see the Trey McIntyre Project end, it was exciting to be a fan and to see what will happen for these talented dancers now! I’ll keep you posted!
Here’s some pictures of my amazing trip to Jacob’s Pillow with my dear friends Scott Sisbarro and Renee Gold. Every dance teacher should treat themselves to a visit there! It is truly a magical experience!