Directed by veteran documentary filmmaker Ron Honsa, Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow:
Never Stand Still reveals the passion, discipline, and daring of those who choose a life in
dance. Performances filmed live at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, interviews with extraordinary artists,
rare archival footage, and behind the scenes insights bring dance to life, as Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow:
Never Stand Still visits the iconic international nexus for dance: Jacob's Pillow.
Founded in the 1930s by visionary dance pioneer Ted Shawn on a farm in the Berkshires region
of western Massachusetts, today the Pillow is an idyllic mecca for artists and audiences from around the
world, a place where dance in all its forms - from ballet to jazz to contemporary - is performed, studied,
created and celebrated. Jacob’s Pillow is also the only dance presenter to receive the prestigious National
Medal of Arts.
Intimate and candid conversations offer personal portraits of leading choreographers and
dancers: renowned ballerina Suzanne Farrell recalls some of her first performances; Tony Award-winner Bill
Irwin marvels at the physical humor of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton; celebrated dancer Rasta Thomas
discusses his "bad boy" route to dance; former Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo star Frederic Franklin, in one
of his last filmed interviews, recalls the early days of the Pillow, where Joseph Pilates taught his now
ubiquitous body-strengthening methods; Mark Morris talks about his love of music; and Merce Cunningham,
also in one of his last interviews, describes why dance "is not for the timid."
Also interviewed are dance icons Paul Taylor and Judith Jamison, as well as a new
generation of artists and companies including Chunky Move, Shantala Shivalingappa and Stockholm 59° North,
who appear in performance and off-stage during their creative workdays.
The theatrical release of Never Stand Still last year coincided with the 80th
anniversary season of America's longest running dance festival. Andrea Pflaumer of the San Francisco
Examiner dubbed the film “exhilarating” and noted the “kinesthetically gripping visuals.”
Director Ron Honsa first came to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in the early 1980s on a
film assignment and was struck by the beauty and intelligence of the work that was being performed,
studied, and created at this exceptional place. This experience ultimately led to the making of Honsa's
award-winning 1985 documentary The Men Who Danced, the story of Ted Shawn and the first all-male
dance company in America. On his film about the Pillow, Honsa states: "From the youngest dancers in
this film to the legendary masters, it was obvious to me that a deep and creative vibration has always
resonated at Jacob's Pillow. Never Stand Still is a love letter to a rare place and the
artists who dare to express the inexpressible through movement."
Throughout his career, Honsa has had a personal passion for directing dance for
television, including his work with Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Limón Dance Company, Savion Glover
and video projects for the Balanchine Trust. His television and film credits include: CBS Reports,
NOW with Bill Moyers, Saturday Night Live, America's Most Wanted, Sesame
Street, US Tennis Open, Head of State, Cadillac Man, The Fallen,
True Colors, She Devil and Live from Lincoln Center.
is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media
providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has
provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of
the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural
programming. Over the course of its four decades, the series has been the home to the greatest
artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing
many with their very first television exposure.
Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow: Never Stand Still
was directed by Ron Honsa. Written and Produced by Ron Honsa and Nan Penman. Cinematography by
Jimmy O'Donnell and Etienne Sauret. Edited by Charles Yurick. Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic
Director Ella Baff is executive producer.
For Great Performances, Joan Hershey and Richard R. Schilling are producers.
Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Major funding for Great Performances is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund,
Rosalind P. Walter, The Lewis “Sonny” Turner Fund for Dance, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust,
Jody and John Arnhold, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Starr Foundation, The Agnes Varis
Trust, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and PBS.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf
for additional information about this and other programs. The program will also be streamed there
in full after broadcast.
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media
provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality
arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces
and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American
Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s
programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational
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classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities
through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform
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About Jacob’s Pillow
Jacob's Pillow began in the late 1700s as a New England farm named after biblical story of Jacob,
who laid his head upon a rock and dreamed of a ladder to heaven. In the 1800s, Jacob's Pillow played
a role in American history as a station on the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping to Canada. In
1931, when modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn bought the abandoned farm he and his wife, Ruth St. Denis,
were America's leading dance couple. Their Denishawn Company had popularized a new dance form rooted
in theatrical and ethnic traditions rather than those of European ballet. Together they spawned a
new generation of dance and dancers in America, including Denishawn company member, Martha Graham and
In 1933, Shawn recruited eight men for his new company. The tall and burly Shawn and
his athletic dancers were intent on challenging the image of men in dance. They forged a new, boldly
muscular style celebrating Pawnee braves, toiling sharecroppers, and Union machinists. The Men Dancers
began performing for the public in 1933, and the Pillow's programming expanded to encompass other artists
after the Men's company disbanded in 1940.
Despite hardships during World War II such as gasoline and tire rationing, audiences
climbed the hill on foot and horseback to attend a wide array of programs at the Pillow: ballet, modern,
mime, ballroom, folk, and classical dance. In 1942, the Ted Shawn Theatre opened, built by the noted
architect Joseph Franz, as the first theatre in the U.S. designed specifically for dance.
Shawn's trail-blazing spirit resonates in the 21st century, and the Pillow has been
celebrated with many recent distinguished honors. In 2003, the Federal Government named Jacob's Pillow a
National Historic Landmark for its importance in America's culture and history, thus distinguishing the
Pillow as the country's first and only Landmark dance institution. In 2007, the Pillow was formally dedicated
as a site on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, which celebrates people and places
that hold pivotal roles in key events of African American heritage. On March 2, 2011, Jacob's Pillow
received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama at the White House, becoming the first
dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious honor. The 2013 Festival runs June 19 through
August 25; for more information visit jacobspillow.org.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org