Photos: Christopher Duggan Fist and Heel Performance Group,
Cherylynn Tsushima Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Images: Mecanoo and Marvel
The first theatre in America designed specifically for dance, Jacob’s Pillow is a cherished destination for dancers and dance enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the Berkshires in Becket, Massachusetts, the international performance center hosts America’s longest-running summer dance festival. For the past 90 years, the 220-acre mountain-top site has provided the perfect setting for its village-like campus of thirty buildings housing performance spaces, dance study facilities, an archive and dance library, administrative offices, housing for visiting artists, and visitor amenities.
When a tragic fire broke out in November 2020 destroying the Pillow’s beloved experimental dance venue, the Doris Duke Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow reached out to Dovetail Design Strategists. With Dovetail’s guidance, this unexpected loss was transformed into opportunity. Envisioning the project as a new epicenter of creativity, Dovetail created a design brief articulating the Pillow’s vision for a contemporary, flexible, and accessible new theatre that would meet both current and future needs.
Dovetail’s invite-only design team selection process procured world-class talent and tasked applicants with devising a state-of-the-art, sustainable theatre that would honor the Indigenous heritage of the site. Finalists were required to team up with a leading theatre consultant, a landscape architect, and a contemporary Indigenous artist to ensure an inclusive design approach and project outcome that addressed innovation, environmental resilience, ecological stewardship, and the legacy of the land.
The outcome of the selection process brought diverse voices to the table: Mecanoo, Marvel, Charcoal Blue, and Choctaw/Cherokee contemporary artist Jeffrey Gibson. This collaborative team aligns perfectly with the Pillow’s mission and promises to result in a new theatre that will be treasured by the local community, dancers, and dance lovers for generations to come.