Header Graphic
Representing Talent Worldwide
Press Releases > Jacob's Pillow Presents Jason Samuels Smith's A.C.G.I. in a Special Two-Week Engagement
Jacob's Pillow Presents Jason Samuels Smith's A.C.G.I. in a Special Two-Week Engagement
Explosive, Contemporary Tap Dancing Set to Live Music
Jacobs Pillow - Becket, MA -- Mar 22, 2010 --


Mariclare Hulbert 413.243.9919 x29 mhulbert@jacobspillow.org





July 2, 2009 (Becket, Mass.) – Tap superstar Jason Samuels Smith and his company A.C.G.I. (Anybody Can Get It) bring a dynamic program to Jacob’s Pillow for a special two-week engagement, July 22–26 and July 29-August 2. Accompanied by live music, the company’s performances will showcase Samuels Smith’s intricate rhythms and original style, while also featuring a troupe of talented tap soloists in a frenzy of movement and sound. A tap prodigy, Samuels Smith danced in Broadway’s Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk at the age of fifteen as a principal dancer and Savion Glover’s understudy. He has since gone on to become an Emmy and American Choreography Award-winner, television and feature film performer, director, and choreographer, and is also widely known for appearing as a special guest artist on the popular television show So You Think You Can Dance. A featured performer at the Pillow’s Season Opening Gala in June, Samuels Smith stomps, glides, and shuffles with tremendous precision. As Victoria Looseleaf of Dance Magazine attests, “His feet have been described as atomic, executing percussive blows that resonate with jackhammer force.”

Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow Executive Director, comments, ”Jason is one of the most remarkable dancers performing today. His technique, original style, his generosity on stage - all add up to a thrilling connection with the audience ,an embrace of what tap, a profound American art form, is all about.”At the Pillow, Smith and his company A.C.G.I. will perform an energy-filled program that pushes the boundaries of tap dance while paying tribute to classical styles of hoofing. Samuels Smith’s personal tap style has been most influenced by the late great Gregory Hines, and he has also been compared to Savion Glover, who performed at the Pillow in 2002 and 2005. But Samuels Smith’s style, rhythmic choices and charisma are truly his own brand, with an intense connection to his interest in jazz music. He is inspired by the rhythmic structure of jazz greats like bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker and stride pianist Art Tatum. Accordingly, the Pillow program includes live accompaniment by gifted musicians, including pianist Theo Hill and Smith’s father, percussionist JoJo Smith. In addition to his musicianship, JoJo Smith is a dancer and choreographer—consultant to the disco film Saturday Night Fever—most renowned as a teacher whose past students include Barbra Streisand, John Travolta, and Brooke Shields.

Jason Samuels Smith is a sensational performer, choreographer, and teacher. Claudia La Rocco of The New York Times says that “even when his shoes seem barely to be touching the stage, he exudes a powerful sense of weighty rootedness that makes his virtuosic explosions all the more dazzling.” An audience favorite, he has appeared in national festivals, television series, and feature films. He has been a guest performer on So You Think You Can Dance and was a featured dancer in Outkast's film Idlewild. In 2004, Smith won an Emmy and the American Choreography Award for "Outstanding Choreography" for the opening number of the 2003 Jerry Lewis/MDA Telethon, a work created in tribute to the late Gregory Hines, a beloved tap dancer and actor.

Dedicated to broadening public recognition of tap dancing, Samuels Smith founded the Los Angeles Tap Festival in 2003 and is currently developing his own specialty shoe for Bloch. In addition to working with A.C.G.I. (Anybody Can Get It), his company of experienced tap soloists, he performed with Kathak dancer Pandit Chitresh Das in India Jazz Suites. Das and Smith’s performance was named the #1 Dance Performance of 2005 by the San Francisco Chronicle and won the prestigious Isadora Duncan Dance Award for 2005’s Best Ensemble Performance. Smith also choreographed and performed the role of tap pioneer Fayard Nicholas in Debbie Allen's production of SAMMY, a musical about the life of Sammy Davis Jr.

For more information on Jacob’s Pillow and Jason Samuels Smith visit www.jacobspillow.org.

Performance and Ticket Information

Wednesday, July 22 -- Saturday, July 25, and Wednesday, July 29 – Saturday, August 1, 8:15pm. Saturdays, July 25 and August 1, 2:15pm Sundays, July 26 and August 2, 5pm

Tickets are $33, with discounts available for subscribers, seniors, students, and children age 16 and under. To sign up for Student Rush Ticket alerts, email info@jacobspillow.org.

Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered on the Doris Duke Theatre porch 30 minutes before every performance.

Fridays, July 25 and 31 artistic personnel from A.C.G. I. will participate in a moderated Post- Show Talk, on stage immediately following the performance.

Box Office hours: Monday through Saturday, 10am – 6pm, and Sunday 11am – 6pm. To purchase, call the Box Office at 413.243.0745 or order online at www.jacobspillow.org. Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member call 413.243.9919 x24.

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 22 – July 26

PillowTalks in Blake’s Barn: The Art of Merce Cunningham, Wednesday, July 22 at 5pm. MASS MOCA director Joseph Thompson and longtime Cunningham archivist David Vaughan discuss Cunningham’s revolutionary aesthetic approach to dance. Cunningham’s incorporation of visual art by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and others is also explored in this summer’s free exhibit in the Ted Shawn Theatre Lobby. On Saturday, July 25 at 4pm, Robert Swinston, Assistant to the Choreographer for Merce Cunningham Dance Company, joins Melissa Toogood and other dancers who studied at The School at Jacob’s Pillow and later danced with the company. In Dancing for Cunningham, they reflect on their most memorable experiences at the Pillow and as Cunningham dancers.

Inside/Out performances at 6:30pm: Wednesday, July 22, Hartford-area Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary with a performance of excerpts from Nutmeg Ballet’s classical and contemporary repertoire. A world-class training ground for classical ballet students, the conservatory brings together summer trainees, choreographers, and alumni from professional companies for its Pillow performance. Thursday, July 23, Pam Tanowitz Dance merges classical ballet and modern dance to demonstrate the wide range of possibility in movement. The New Yorker describes Tanowitz as “a clear sighted post-modernist” who seeks to rid the audience of preconceived notions about what dance should be. Friday, July 24, Terrain Dance performs My Serenade, a work choreographed by Rebecca Lazier and set to music by Tchaikovsky. An alumna of The School of Jacob’s Pillow, Lazier’s work is both contemporary and experimental, intimate and grand. Saturday, July 25, students of The School at Jacob’s Pillow—Contemporary Traditions perform a work by Helen Pickett, a former principal dancer with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. This performance concludes the students’ second week of professional study under the direction of master teacher Milton Myers.

Free Events at the Pillow July 29 – August 2

PillowTalks in Blake’s Barn: A Partnership in Ballet and Life, Wednesday, July 29 at 5pm. Gradimir Pankov, Artistic Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, joins Margret Kaufmann, the company’s Ballet Mistress and Assistant to the Artistic Director, in a discussion of the company’s illustrious history at the Pillow, which began exactly fifty years ago. On Saturday, August 1 at 4pm, Jane Goldberg discusses and signs her new book about her remarkable life in tap dance. In Shoot Me While I’m Happy, she reflects on her affiliations with legends such as Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her 1978 Pillow appearance with hoofers Cookie Cook and Bubba Gaines.

Inside/Out performances at 6:30pm: Wednesday, July 29, Peggy Spina Tap Company delivers versatile, imaginative performances, using tap shoes as both instrument and dance partner. The New York Times says Spina’s choreography makes “tap dancing seem like merry chattering.” Thursday, July 30, LAVA combines tumbling, modern dance, wrestling, and theater to comment on contemporary social issues. Choreographer Sarah East Johnson challenges traditional ideas about gender and partnering by highlighting the strength and athleticism of her all-female troupe. Friday, July 31, Québec-native Helen Simoneau performs the ritual-like Celui qui Regarde with a group of collaborating dancers and takes the stage alone for The Gentleness was in Her Hands, an intimate solo piece. Saturday, August 1, students of The School at Jacob’s Pillow—Contemporary Traditions perform a work by Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen, whose company performed at

the Pillow in 2006. This performance concludes the students’ third week of professional study under the direction of master teacher Milton Myers.

Ongoing Free Events include: Outsiders, a selection of open-air images of dance at the Pillow including classics by John Lindquist and John Van Lund, in Bakalar Studio; Tap!, a photography exhibit featuring acclaimed artists such as Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, and others, in the Doris Duke Studio Theatre Lobby; The Art of Merce Cunningham, a tribute to Cunningham’s 90th birthday that documents his collaborations with distinctive visual artists with costumes, sketches, posters, and other artifacts from the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Archives, in the Ted Shawn Theatre Lobby; Alvin Ailey: Anniversary Salute which celebrates the 50th anniversary season of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with rare photographs by John Lindquist and John Van Lund, in Blake’s Barn; and A Dance to Jules Feiffer, an exclusive exhibition created for and debuting at Jacob’s Pillow that focuses on the dance imagery of renowned cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Jules Feiffer.

Activities at Jacob’s Pillow

The Archives at Jacob’s Pillow allows impromptu visitors to view videos, browse through books, access the Pillow's computer catalog, or peruse permanent collections of Pillow programs and photographs. Pillow Interactive, a popular touch-screen kiosk, provides instant interlinked access to rare film clips ranging from the present day back to the 1930s.

Patrons are always welcome to explore the historic grounds to discover all the reasons why the Pillow was named a National Historic Landmark, with Guided Tours leaving from the Welcome Center every Friday and Saturday at 5:30pm. Self-guided tour maps are always available as well.

Visitors can also relax in the historic Tea Garden, where Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers welcomed the first Pillow audiences in the 1930s, as they peek into the Bakalar Studio to watch rehearsals; or stroll through several ecological zones on the Wetlands Trail, created as part of the Pillow’s responsible stewardship of its 163 acres of rural environment.

Dance Opportunities

Morning Jumpstart Classes offered in Pilates, Ballet, Modern, and more, Mondays through Fridays at 8am. All experience levels, 16 and older, $8 per class, Ruth St. Denis Studio. Call the Education Hotline at 413.243.9919 x17.

Weekly Master Classes are led by Festival artists Sundays at 10:30am to noon for intermediate and advanced dancers, $15 per class. Pre-registration is required. Call the Education Hotline at 413.243.9919 x17.

The School at Jacob’s Pillow is open to public observation Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9am– 5pm, featuring world renowned faculty at no charge. Interested groups of four or more should confirm space availability by calling 413.243.9919 x17.

Dining The Pillow Café offers fine dining with wine service under the tent on The Great Lawn. Wednesdays through Saturdays, dinner is served 5–7pm. Saturday and Sunday brunch is served noon to 2pm. Reservations are required, call 413.243.2455.

The Pillow Pub offers casual family fare, takeout for picnics, and full bar service. Wednesdays through Fridays 5pm–midnight, Saturdays noon–midnight, and Sundays noon–5pm.

The Coffee Bar and Ice Cream Bar are open pre-performance and during intermissions. Sample menus for each dining venue are available at www.jacobspillow.org. Pillow Patrons are also

invited to bring picnics and relax at one of many choice picnic spots on the Pillow grounds. Support for Jacob’s Pillow Dance comes, in part, from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

As of December 2008, major support for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival has been provided by: The American- Scandinavian Foundation; Asian Cultural Council; Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; The Dana Foundation; Danish Arts Agency; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Frances Alexander Foundation; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; The Leir Charitable Foundations, in Memory of Henry J. Leir; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts; Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation; Netherland-America Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts; The New York Community Trust—Wallace Special Projects Fund; The William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation; Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation; Pittsfield Cultural Council; The Prospect Hill Foundation; The Jerome Robbins Foundation; The Neal Rantoul Foundation; Arch W. Shaw Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Xeric Foundation; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; MassDevelopment; Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism; National Endowment for the Arts; United States Department of Education; ALEX®; Ameriprise Financial; Big Y World Class Market; Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; Greylock Federal Credit Union; The Legacy Banks Foundation; Pilgrim Inn; Quality Inn; Rodeway Inn; Super 8 Motel Lee; The Pillow Business Alliance; and Jacob’s Pillow Members.

The Pillow is proud to be part of the "Leading for the Future Initiative", a program of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Major endowment support is provided by The Barrington Foundation; The William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Leir Charitable Foundations, in Memory of Henry J. Leir; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Onota Foundation; The Prospect Hill Foundation; and the Talented Students in the

Arts Initiative, a collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.