Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), the groundbreaking and newly revitalized classical and contemporary ballet company, will open the 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival season in the Ted Shawn Theatre on June 19-23. Led by founding member and former principal dancer, Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, the company will present a range of classic and new ballet work including George Balanchine’s Agon, The Lark Ascending by Alvin Ailey, and Far But Close by Canadian contemporary choreographer John Alleyne.
The company performs three neo-classical and contemporary ballet works that span multiple eras of American and dance history. George Balanchine’s Agon is a challenging work for 12 dancers, and features an iconic pas de deux originally created in 1957 for DTH founder Arthur Mitchell and ballerina Diana Adams as members of New York City Ballet. Created in in collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky, Agon is one of Balanchine’s most notable ballets. In an article reflecting on Agon’s 50th anniversary, Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times called the work “astounding, full of shapes, phrases, rhythms, sounds that hadn’t been encountered before, but embodied New York modernism itself.”
Alvin Ailey’s The Lark Ascending (1972) is set to an eponymous score by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams created for violin and orchestra in 1920. While the music is inspired by the English countryside of Vaughan Williams’ youth, Ailey’s choreographic interpretation is a depiction of a young girl’s maturation to young womanhood. As part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts, DTH received a grant to help reconstruct The Lark Ascending for inclusion in the repertoire of its revived professional company. One of the most balletic of Ailey’s creations, DTH is the first American company to perform the work sur les pointes.