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Young dancing jewels and a rewarding exhibit bring a summer festival to a close

I haven’t seen Morris's Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes—set to Virgil Thomson's Etudes for Piano (with its buried references to Ben Jonson's age-old song)—since American Ballet Theatre premiered it in 1988, with Mikhail Baryshnikov as the first of three blithe men. Traces of Morris's take on Misha cling to the work in the form of a mildly heroic "Slavic" solo. Madrigal, Pavel Gurevitch, and Christopher Budzynski do an excellent job, along with Ribeiro, Romi Beppu, Rie Ichigawa, and six other dancers. In this work, even the star turns are subtle—part of a fabric of beautiful, spiritually and musically supple dancing that presents all 12 performers as members of a peaceful but lively community, where gender differences may be mentioned but not stressed. An experienced and often highly critical former dancer seeing Drink to Me for the first time told me that she couldn't ever predict exactly what was going to happen next, and that she never stopped smiling. Me either.

In addition to showing living treasures of dance, Jacob's Pillow mounts exhibitions of ones past and present. The summer festival was the second stop for a highly satisfying and imaginative show, "America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100." Sponsored by the Dance Heritage Coalition and curated by Lynn Garafola and Norton Owen, it opened at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, and will be installed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts next summer after a stop in Columbus, Ohio.

The 100 notable dance icons commemorated in images and words range from the expected performers and choreographers (Balanchine, Pavlova, Ruth St. Denis, Alvin Ailey, Fred Astaire, et al.) and their major works to influential companies and institutions (the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Federal Dance Project of the 1930s, pedagogues Martha Hill and Bessie Schönberg, Broadway master Bob Fosse, José Greco, Al Minns, Master Juba, Balasaraswati, hip-hop, the dances of the Hopi Kachina, and more).

Details

Boston Ballet
"America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: the First 100"
Jacob's Pillow
Closed August 29

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You can peruse the handsomely mounted photos (graphic design, Suzanne Doig; exhibition design, Stephen Saitas), watch archival film clips and excerpts from Hollywood movies, or summon up little dancing images and printed information on an interactive computer display. A few documents and costume pieces are also exhibited (Wilbur McCormack's briefs from Ted Shawn's 1938 Dance of the Ages!). In 1930, J. Ewing Cole, a Denishawn dancer who had left the fold, wrote Shawn, asking that in the future "Dear Papa" not think of him as "one of those awfully clever people 'who never followed it up.' " I daresay Shawn had no opportunity to think that of the man who became Jack Cole.

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