3 World Premieres from Jacoby & Pronk Dancers at Jacob’s Pillow


In an exclusive engagement, independent contemporary ballet duo Jacoby & Pronk will perform at Jacob’s Pillow with four other international dance stars, July 21-25, 2010 in the Doris Duke Theatre. Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk performed with leading contemporary ballet companies before eschewing the typical dancer’s career path to become freelance artists, touring as an independent duo and appearing as guest artists with companies such as the Dutch National Ballet and Morphoses.

The duo will perform an excerpt of Christopher Wheeldon’s Rhapsody Fantaisie, three world premieres by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Leo Mujic, and Lauri Stallings, and a pas de deux by Hans van Manen. Jacoby and Pronk are joined in this engagement by fellow international dance stars David Hallberg of American Ballet Theatre; former member of Nederlands Dans Theatre Shirley Esseboom; dancer/choreographer Leo Mujic (Béjart Ballet Lausannet, Ballett Frankfurt, Paris Opera Ballet); and Victor Mateos Arellano of Dresden SemperOper Ballett.  Short films directed by noted photographer and filmmaker Alvin Booth, starring Jacoby and Pronk, serve as interludes between works.

Ella Baff, Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow, comments “The Pillow is committed to giving dancers and choreographers new opportunities and to sharing their extraordinary talent with the public.  I invited these stunning dancers, Drew and Rubinald, to create a special program for the Pillow.  They have certainly succeeded.  This is the only place where audiences will see this particular constellation of gifted dancers, and three world premieres by uniquely creative choreographers.”

A former dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and one of Dance Magazine’s“25 to Watch” in 2007, choreographer Lauri Stallings has been commissioned by American Ballet Theatre, the Juilliard School, and the Vail International Dance Festival, among others. For this engagement, Drew Jacoby and American Ballet Theatre superstar David Hallberg perform Two, a world premiere duet created for them by Stallings, danced to “Falling Shadows (3)” by Max Richter.

Among the first works created for Jacoby & Pronk, One, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, is a “steely” vehicle for “Jacoby and Pronk’s knife-edged limbs, razor-sharp technique, and sensual chemistry” (Nancy Wozny, Dance Magazine) set to an original electronic score by Dutch composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis. Tension builds throughout the work withincreasingly quick, sharp movements inspired by William Forsythe, whose early use of formal ballet steps in innovative variations earned him the title of “ballet’s reigning indie choreographer” (Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times). Ochoa recreated this work as a quartet and that quartet will premiere at the Pillow.

In Rhapsody Fantaisie, Christopher Wheeldon “knits classical steps with silky changes of weight that shift in tone between limpid duets and more robust, folk-tinged ensemble numbers” (Gia Kourlas, The New York Times). Originally created for a larger ensemble, Rhapsody Fantaisie will be presented as an excerpt performed by Jacoby and Pronk and set to “Tears” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Hans van Manen’s Déjà vu, set to “Fratres” by Arvo Pärt, will be performed by Victor Mateos Arellano and Shirley Esseboom. “Fratres,” originally composed for strings and winds, consists of a set of nine chord sequences, interspersed with a recurrent percussive theme. The chord sequences were generated using a simple mathematical formula and follow a clear pattern that ventures into rich harmonic space.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s second contribution to the program, L’effleuré, is a powerful solo set to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Stabat Mater”.  L’effleuré (French for ‘the slightly touched one’ or ‘the hyper sensitive one’) premiered earlier this year on Rubinald Pronk and will be performed alternately by Pronk and Victor Mateos Arellano.

Leo Mujic’s Change Me is a world premiere trio for Jacoby, Pronk, and the choreographer himself set to “Sonata for Violin and Piano” by Johann Sebastian Bach.Mujic has worked with Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Maurice Béjart, Nacho Duato, and Ohad Naharin. In their August 2009 cover story for Dance Magazine, Jacoby and Pronk praised Mujic, who choreographed a ”demanding and provocative”(Dallas Dance Examiner) duet for them earlier in 2009 called B Sonata, saying “he really pushed us beyond what we thought we could do.”

Drew and Rubi

Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk began to freelance together while both were dancing with Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson’s Complexions Contemporary Ballet. They made their debut as Jacoby & Pronk in 2008. As described by Kina Poon of Dance Magazine, “Jacoby’s steely strength and Pronk’s fluid hyper-flexibility defy the usual gender norms of a ballet partnership. They possess a brimming, almost menacing, energy, and the sense that they are daring each other is palpable.”  They have premiered the work of choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Paul Lightfoot, Adam Hougland, and Peter Leung, and both dancers have been frequent guest artists with the Dutch National Ballet and performed several seasons with Morphoses. Jacoby and Pronk use their classical ballet technique to perform contemporary work with artistry, fluidity, grace, and extreme flexibility: “Rubinald Rofino Pronk…has one of those bodies; think da Vinci’s model, elongate, add hyper-flexibility, fab feet and tensile strength…he has found a soulmate of matching physical splendor in Drew Jacoby, who displays feline grace on girders of steel.” (Dance Europe)

Drew Jacoby received early training from the School of American Ballet in New York as well as the schools of Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. The Boise, Idaho native joined Alonzo King LINES Ballet at 17, where Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Alonzo King created numerous original works on her. She made her first appearance at Jacob’s Pillow in 2002 with LINES, returning in 2005. After moving to New York to perform with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Jacoby danced briefly with Complexions, where she met Rubinald Pronk. She is the recipient of a 2005 Princess Grace Award and has performed works by George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Mia Michaels, and Lightfoot/Leon.

Rubinald Pronk, originally of The Hague, Netherlands, has been called “Holland’s sexiest ballet dancer ever” (Elsevier Magazine). After training at the Royal Conservatory of Ballet, Pronk joined the Dutch National Ballet as a soloist at 16, where he performed works by William Forsythe, George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Frederick Ashton. He came to the U.S. and joined Complexions in 2006, where he performed works by Dwight Rhoden and Ulysses Dove. When Drew Jacoby joined Complexions in 2007, the two instantly recognized their artistic chemistry. Pronk is currently a guest performer with Polish National Ballet, Teatro Massimo, Dutch National Ballet, and Norwegian National Ballet.

Jacoby & Pronk are accompanied in this program by acclaimed dancers David Hallberg, Shirley Esseboom, and Victor Mateos Arellano. Hallberg is a principal with American Ballet Theatre, where he has become a standout performer on the American dance scene. In his December 2009 retrospective on the past decade in dance, chief dance critic of The New York Times Alastair Macaulay stated “I watch David Hallberg and believe that America has never produced a finer example of the princely, noble type of dancer.” Esseboom danced with Nederlands Dans Theatre under the direction of Jiří Kylián, and Arellano has danced with Het Nationale Ballet andDresden SemperOper Ballett.

While at Jacob’s Pillow, artistic personnel from Jacoby & Pronk will lead a Master Class on Sunday, July 25, 10-11:30am.  Sunday Master Classes are open to intermediate/advanced dancers and pre-registration is required (call 413.243.9919 x5). Master Classes are $15 per class or $8 for dance instructors with proper identification. Observation is free and open to the public.  In addition, Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk will be interviewed onstage by Scholar-in-Residence Philip Szporer following the performance on Friday, July 23.

Performance and Ticket Information

Wednesday, July 21 – Saturday, July 24, 8:15pm and Saturday, July 24 & Sunday, July 25, 2:15pm

  • Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered on the porch of the Doris Duke Theatre 30 minutes before every performance.
  • Tickets range from $30-36. Tickets on sale now online at www.jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at Jacob’s Pillow.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2).  The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped-accessible.

Free Events at the Pillow July 21 – 25

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Melanie Aceto Contemporary Dance

NEW TIME Wednesday, July 21, 6:15pm Inside/Out

This upstate New York contemporary dance company uses comedy and lush movement to communicate with audiences. Knit is a sensitive duet set to music based on traditional Chinese folk songs, and Portage builds momentum through swirling group interactions.

Free “PillowTalk” Discussion – Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane

NEW DAY Thursday, July 22, 5pm Blake’s Barn

In conjunction with the Ted Shawn Theatre exhibition of Arnie Zane’s early photography, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s July 21-25 engagement, and the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Bill T. Jones will discuss the evolution of his influential partnership with Arnie Zane.

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Rennie Harris RHAW

NEW TIME Thursday, July 22, 6:15pm Inside/Out

Rennie Harris Awe-inspiring Works (RHAW) is a pre-professional youth dance troupe that teaches young dancers the deep history and distinctive style of hip-hop. The next generation of hip-hop artists performs locking, popping, boogaloo, b-boy/b-girl and house styles.

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Avi Scher & Dancers

NEW TIME Friday, July 23, 6:15pm Inside/Out

An alumnus of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, Avi Scher returns to Inside/Out with a group of extraordinary ballet artists from America’s top ballet companies. The program includes Touch, a stark, contemporary work, and Feeling Lucky, a duet set to music by Jason Mraz.

Free “PillowTalk” Discussion and Film Screening – 40 Years of One Night Stands

Saturday, July 24, 4pm Blake’s Barn

An audience favorite at this year’s Dance on Camera Festival in New York, this film charts the unlikely and engaging story of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  Fascinating interviews and rare footage celebrate Canada’s first professional ballet company and its historic 1964 breakthrough at the Pillow.

Free “Inside/Out” Showing – The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Contemporary

NEW TIME Saturday, July 24, 6:15pm Inside/Out

The three-week Contemporary Program directed by master teacher/choreographer Milton Myers covers a range of diverse contemporary choreographers.  This second week concludes with dancers directed in a new work by Didy Veldman, an international choreographer based in The Netherlands and known for her work with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

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