Yin Mei’s “City of Paper” an elaborate work at Jacob’s Pillow

Yin Mei's City of Paper is a full length dance with live music.

City of Paper refers to the history of Luoyang, Yin Mei’s hometown, where paper was invented. An ancient literary and artistic center, Luoyang became another world during her childhood, when the Cultural Revolution made paper political, and the city was plastered with revolutionary slogans and critiques. Key to the work is Yin Mei’s collaboration with Sang Jijia, who partners with her through a series of duets that pass by as if in a dream – or in a film. Sang Jijia – playing the diverse roles of alter-ego, anti-hero, oppressor, father figure, hero, lover – emerges eventually as a character with his own mysterious story to tell.

Synopsis: Thought-provoking  New York-based choreographer Yin Mei returns to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival August 4-8, 2010 in an evening-length contemporary dance-theatre work that merges sensual movement, paper and ink, and video projections with stirring live and recorded music. Called “a dancer of luminous clarity” by Jennifer Fisher of the Los Angeles Times, Yin Mei is joined by celebrated performers Kota Yamazaki, Dai Jian, and Kanako Yokota.  An elaborate onstage environment, a varied score, and live viola performed by virtuoso Stephanie Griffin provide a compelling atmosphere, inspired by the choreographer’s childhood during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

“In addition to lots of beautiful, evocative dancing, City of Paper is a multimedia experience that keeps us engaged with light, music, digital scenic design, and other surprising visual effects. At one point, the dancers “paint” the set with their bodies, evoking the art of Chinese calligraphy in a completely new way,” comments Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow Executive Director.

Susan Yung of Dance Magazine describes Yin Mei’s choreography as “highly theatrical works using symbolic props and images,” and City of Paper exemplifies that theme.  In City of Paper, the four performers dance and interact with a digitally enhanced set designed by Yin Mei, in a series of dreamlike vignettes. The performance is set to an original score by noted composer Richard Marriott, performed live by Griffin, as well as music by experimental American composer Bora Yoon and French bossa nova singer/songwriter Camille. Kota Yamazaki, Dai Jian, Kanako Yokota and Yin Mei’s diverse dance backgrounds add another layer of interest to the work: Yamazaki and Yokota are Butoh artists, and Jian performed with Shen Wei Dance Arts before joining the Trisha Brown Dance Company.  Yin Mei’s original training includes classical Chinese danceand for the past two decades she has been a contemporary dance choreographer and performance artist. Other collaborators include Peter Critchell, who provides text, and Tennessee Rice Dixon, who designed the digital projections.

Yin Mei, called “greatly gifted” by Deborah Jowitt of The Village Voice, utilizes a movement vocabulary that combines her training in classical Chinese dance with contemporary forms and a unique spatial awareness to create powerful, innovative work. Her dancing has been defined as “a combination of delicacy and strong intention, and firmly rooted feet that support swooning explorations of arms and torso” (Jennifer Fisher, LA Times). Yin Mei was a principal dancer with Henan Song and Dance Troupe and the Hong Kong Dance Company before founding Yin Mei Dance in 1995. In 2004 she was named a Choreography Fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2005 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography. Yin Mei received her B.A. and M.F.A. from New York University and presently serves as Professor of Dance at Queens College.

While at Jacob’s Pillow, artistic personnel from Yin Mei Dance will lead a Master Class on Sunday, August 8, 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.

On Wednesday, August 4, Jacob’s Pillow will host “Gallery Night,” a free gallery mixer following the opening of Yin Mei Dance. Visual and performing artists and the public are welcome to gather and mingle in Blake’s Barn where the exhibits are devoted to the photography of Lois Greenfield and the drawings and watercolors of Jules Feiffer. Refreshments will be provided.

Performance and Ticket Information

Wednesday, August 4 – Saturday, August 7, 8:15pm

Saturday, August 7 & Sunday, August 8, 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 $31-36.  $20 Young Audience tickets available for individuals 35 and younger, call 413.243.0745 for details.
  • Tickets on sale now online at www.jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at Jacob’s Pillow.
  • Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits.  To become a Member call 413.243.9919 x125.

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 August 4 – 8

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Eyes of a Blue Dog Dance Theatre

NEW TIME Wednesday, August 4, 6:15pm Inside/Out

Fusing classical and contemporary art philosophy with theatrical devices, Artistic Director Elspeth Brown delves into a dreamworld in excerpts from Perhaps Now, Perhaps Never. Dancers investigate the world around them and what happens when things are not as they seem.

Free “PillowTalk” Discussion and Film Screening – 15 Days of Dance: The Making of “Ghost Light”

NEW DAY Thursday, August 5, 5pm Blake’s Barn

Award-winning filmmaker Eliot Caplan set out to chronicle the making of a dance in a whole new way as he recorded virtually every moment of Brian Reeder creating a work for ABTII.  The final installment in his 20-part project receives its World Premiere screening here.

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Malcolm Low/Formalstructure Inc.

NEW TIME Thursday, August 5, 6:15pm Inside/Out

Originally from Chicago, where he trained with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Malcolm Low has performed with the likes of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and others. He brings his company Formalstructure Inc. to present fragmented images of loneliness and isolation in Luscious Colors of Unclear Canvas.

Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Jessica Gaynor Dance

NEW TIME Friday, August 6, 6:15pm Inside/Out

Echoing the theme and variation structure of Bach’s A Musical Offering, Jessica Gaynor’s Theory of Games uses puzzles and games to explore how ideas change and develop over time. A work for six dancers, Gaynor draws on her training as a gymnast to solicit beauty in action and exertion.

Free “PillowTalk” Discussion – Dance and Photography

Saturday, August 7, 4pm Blake’s Barn

Lois Greenfield has been photographing dancers for over thirty years, while Kyle Abraham used the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge as a springboard for his newest work.  These two perspectives on the connections between dance and photography come together in a discussion with both artists about capturing movement.

Free “Inside/Out” Showing – The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance

NEW TIME Saturday, August 7, 6:15pm Inside/Out

Chet Walker, Artistic Director of WALKERDANCE and co-conceiver of the Broadway hit Fosse, along with Broadway choreographers/directors and music director Steve Marzullo, showcase dancers of The School in new work created during their first of three intensive program weeks as they prepare for A Jazz Happening, a benefit for The School to be presented on Sunday, August 22.

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