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A world of dance at Jacob's Pillow

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform at Jacob's Pillow July 22-26 in celebration of Cunningham's 90th birthday. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform at Jacob's Pillow July 22-26 in celebration of Cunningham's 90th birthday. (Anna Finke)
By Megan Tench
Globe Staff / January 29, 2009
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This season, Jacob's Pillow will present 50 dance companies on three stages, including a celebration of choreographer Merce Cunningham's 90th birthday, the world premiere of a full-length work by acclaimed choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and the US company debut of Taiwan's LAFA & Artists.

Running June 20 to Aug. 30, the festival features performers from around the globe in a striking range of styles. "It's going to be a very varied season of dance with dancers of all kinds," says Ella Baff, executive director. "The dancing is very strong, and I feel committed to presenting everything from the masters of dance to young emerging artists."

Baff singles out the Cherkaoui work, "Orbo Novo ("New World"), for note. The piece will be performed to a live score by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet July 8-12. "He is one of the most sought after choreographers outside of the US," Baff says. "It's a fantastic, really strong, beautiful dance. He's considered to be in the top ranks of choreographers working today."

The season opens with a gala event June 20 featuring tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith from "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk" as well as contemporary company Gallim Dance.

Notable programs include "Radio and Juliet" by Ballet Maribor, a multimedia take on the Shakespeare tale set to music by Radiohead (July 1-5); two US premieres from LAFA & Artists, led by former Martha Graham Dance Company star Fang-Yi Sheu (July 1-5); the US premiere of "Des gens qui dansent" by Groupe Emile Dubois (July 15-19); the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (July 22-26); an engagement by Jason Samuels Smith and A.C.G.I. (Anybody Can Get It) (July 22-26, July 29-Aug. 2); the hip-hop stylings of Rennie Harris Puremovement (Aug. 5-9); an all-Ulysses Dove program by Pacific Northwest Ballet (Aug. 19-23); and Doug Elkins and Friends' "Fräulein Maria," a comedic take on "The Sound of Music" (Aug. 26-30).

This season, the Doris Duke Theatre will be open on Wednesday nights, adding a performance to each week's schedule.

For complete season information and tickets, call 413-243-0745 or visit www.jacobspillow.org.

Megan Tench can be reached at mtench@globe.com.

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