Ted Shawn, by name of Edwin Myers Shawn, (born October 21, 1891, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.—died January 9, 1972, Orlando, Florida), innovative American modern dancer and cofounder of the Denishawn school and company. In 1933 he founded Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival near Lee, Massachusetts, as a summer residence and theatre for his dancers. After the group’s dissolution, Shawn developed Jacob’s Pillow into an internationally important dance centre.
Each year thousands of people from across the U.S. and around the globe visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts to experience the Festival with more than 50 dance companies and 500 free performances, talks, and events; train at The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S.
In July 1933, Shawn and his Men Dancers started giving public “Tea Lecture Demonstrations” to both promote their work and earn their living. The first Pillow audience of 45 curiosity-seekers expanded steadily so that by summer’s end, people were turned away: roots for what was to evolve into the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival were established. From 1933 to 1940, a period Shawn termed “seven magic years”, Shawn and his Men Dancers toured throughout the United States and Canada, Cuba, and England, performing more than 1,250 times in 750 cities. All the while, they continued the summer “Tea Lecture Demonstrations” at the Pillow.
Their International Dance Festival was so successful that local supporters formed the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Committee, raised $50,000 to buy the property from Shawn and to build a theater (performances had been held in the barn studio), and named Shawn as director. Despite wartime hardships such as gasoline and tire rationing, audiences climbed the hill on foot and horseback to attend a wide array of programs: ballet, modern dance, mime, ballroom dance, and folk and classical dance of many cultures.
In 2011, Jacob’s Pillow launched Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, an online resource of video clips curated from the Archives in Becket. The archive features performances that have taken place at the festival from 1937 to 2010, including footage rarely seen. This user-friendly free resource allows the user to browse dance footage by artist, genre, and era. The Director of Preservation, Norton Owen, curates the collection. Each entry includes a video clip, an informative paragraph describing the dancer/choreographer, and an artist portrait.
According to en.wikipedia.org; .jacobspillow.org. Source of photos: internet