On March 2, 2011, President Barack Obama presented Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival with the National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government. Situated in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Jacob’s Pillow is the nation’s longest running dance festival, founded in the 1930s by Ted Shawn, “the Father of American dance.”

In late August, Paul Scolieri, assistant professor of dance, attended the final week of the 2011 Festival with two Barnard students, Dance major Marygrace Patterson ‘12 and Dance and American Studies major Caroline Walthall ’11. Together they viewed rare films and examined papers in the Pillow’s extensive archives. They attended performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group and a world-premiere collaboration between Kyle Abraham and Camille A. Brown, two choreographers who have created dances for Barnard students in the past. They also attended public lectures and discussions, including a conversation between Mark Morris and Annie Leibovitz about the relationship between dance and photography.

One highlight of their Pillow visit was an afternoon tea with Jeanette Roosevelt, the founder of the Barnard College Department of Dance. Professor Roosevelt visited them from nearby Lenox to talk about her seventy-year relationship with the Pillow and about the early years of the Barnard Dance Department. She was delighted to hear about the current students’ thesis projects. Also at the tea was Dance and History major Laura Quinton ’13, who spent the entire summer at Jacob’s Pillow with a coveted internship in the Pillow archives. In this role, Laura catalogued some of the archive’s precious programs and photos, in addition to working alongside research fellows and Pillow visitors.

Professor Scolieri is currently writing a book about Ted Shawn. This summer he was a research fellow at the Pillow, and is currently the Joan Nordell Fellow at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, which houses some exceptional archival material related to Shawn.

This trip was sponsored by the Office of International Programs, as part of an initiative to encourage faculty/student interaction beyond the classroom in order to foster a greater sense of community. Funds for faculty to take students on trips abroad and domestically are available for the 2011 -2012 year. Faculty interested in applying for these funds should contact Associate Provost Hilary Link at hlink@barnard.edu.

Photo (l to r): Marygrace Patterson ’12, Professor Paul Scolieri, Jeanette Roosevelt, Caroline Walthall ’11, and Laura Quinton ’13 in front of the Ted Shawn Theater, the first theater built in the US exclusively for dance.