In one of the clips of him featured in Never Stand Still, a rough history of northern Massachusetts’s Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the late modern-dance pioneer Ted Shawn suggests we don’t really have a “dance appreciation” tradition—the kind of pseudo-academic, audience-building tool more common to music and visual art. That perceived lack was behind Shawn’s founding of the annual, summer-long, dressed-down expo of what’s up and coming in the dance world. As Jacob’s Pillow’s 80th season begins, the public’s appreciation of dance feels heightened, whether due to a show like the paso doble–friendly Dancing With the Stars or documentaries like this one and its recent forebears, including Pina, First Position, and Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance. Like the latter, Never Stand Still (directed by Ron Honsa) pays tribute to the man behind the institution, mixing flickering archival images with programs developed very much in the present. Immediacy is endemic at Jacob’s Pillow, where internationally renowned companies come to workshop new dances over a few days and then perform them in various intimate settings. Honsa lets several such performances—from Shantala Shivalingappa, Chunky Move, and the Zaccho Dance Theatre, among others—play out to exhilarating effect. It’s all pretty loose and formless, but there’s enough discipline on display to thrill lovers of movement, whether amateur or advanced.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 16, 2012