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Mountain Dancing

Mountain Dancing

MET Dance Returns to Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Stage


IMAGE ABOVE:   MET Dance in Larry Keigwin’s Air at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Stage in 2012.  Photo by Christopher Duggan.


MET dancers Lisa Wolff and Terrill Mitchell in Peter Chu's Hidden in Plain Sight. Photo credit by Simon Gentry.
MET dancers Lisa Wolff and Terrill Mitchell in Peter Chu’s Hidden in Plain Sight. Photo credit by Simon Gentry.

It’s a rite of passage for a dance company to be invited to perform on Jacob’s Pillow’s storied Inside/Out stage in the Berkshires. To be asked back, well that’s just fantastic news for any troupe, and such is the case for Houston’s MET Dance, one of two Houston companies ever to perform on at this historic site. Suchu Dance performed in 2008, and MET Dance enjoyed a well received show in 2012. The Houston troupe will close the Inside/Out season on Aug. 23 with a program of recent works. MET artistic director Marlana Doyle finds the ending slot ideal. “It is a great opportunity for the company to leave its legacy behind at the close of this historical festival and set the tone of how audiences receive us,” says Doyle. “It is a prime chance to gain new audiences and lay the groundwork for seasons to come.”

Set against the mountains and the surrounding forest, the stage offers a breathtaking way to witness dance. Performances are free, family friendly and happen Wednesday-Saturdays during the season. It’s not unusual to see little ones grooving with the dancers on stage. A brief Q & A concludes every event. An Inside/Out show is a perfect way to expose new people to dance. Audiences members use this opportunity to picnic and invite their friends to share an art form they enjoy.

MET Dance in The Vessel by Kiki Lucas. Photo by Ben Doyle.
MET Dance in The Vessel by Kiki Lucas.
Photo by Ben Doyle.

Doyle grew up in Shrewsbury, MA, so it’s a homecoming for her. “I have such wonderful memories of visiting Jacobs Pillow with my family,” says Doyle.  “As an aspiring young dancer, it was always a place to be introduced to some of the best dancers in the world who are presenting new and different work each season. These moments always came home with me and inspired me in my own training and dance goals. You can imagine then, in 2012, when MET Dance was invited to perform, how honored I was to now be among the roster of performers many years later.”

The MET program has some rather interesting ties to the Pillow. Two years ago, I was just blown away by Laura Edson’s dancing in Trey McIntyre’s Bad Winter during their 2012 engagement. I had a chance to visit with Edson, who was then ending her time as a dancer to focus on choreography. I suggested she look at MET Dance as a home for her work. She did, they did, and the result is After the Rain, a deeply human dance that pushed the MET in new ways, both technically and in emotional tone. Another work on the program, Hidden in Plain Sight, is by Peter Chu, who performed with Kidd Pivot in Crystal Pite’s Dark Matters, a Pillow hit two years in a row.

MET Dance in After the Rain by Laura Edson. Photo by Ben Doyle.
MET Dance in After the Rain by Laura Edson.
Photo by Ben Doyle.

Resident choreographer Kiki Lucas’ work proved a standout at their last Pillow show, so it makes sense to include her newest work, The Vessel, which explores the sense of hearing. Rounding out the program is their signature piece, Tidal Intersections by Kate Skarpwtowska, whose work has been performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater II, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Parsons Dance, Buglisi Dance Theater, and Hubbard Street 2.

MET Dance has been on an upswing ever since they moved into their new sleek quarters, which has allowed the organization to grow and thrive. Doyle and her troupe are ready for the challenge of their second Pillow engagement. Doyle adds.

“I’m proud and confident in the work and its caliber, and feel this is a great vehicle to show others on a national level that there is innovative and ground breaking contemporary dance in Houston.”

—NANCY WOZNY