Matthew McLaughlin; photo by Christopher Duggan
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2023: Creative Portraits
This is a guest post by Christopher Duggan
We’re having a wonderful time at the Pillow.
Our family spends much of June through August in Berkshire County, MA, at the magical place that is Jacob’s Pillow. Nel is the Pillow’s Director of Media and mentors a hard-working media team, and I’m the Festival Photographer, making photos of Festival events, performances, and creative portraits whenever possible.
I’m excited to share some of the creative portraits I’ve made this summer…
The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Contemporary Ballet Dancers
Nikita Baryshnikov and Allison Whitley at Jacob’s Pillow; photo by Christopher Duggan
Alyssa Eyster and Trey Ferdyn; photo by Christopher Duggan
Darel Perez and Laura De Los Santos; photo by Christopher Duggan
OK, fine I’ll say it: I love ballet! There’s something so beautiful about photographing and collaborating with classically trained dancers. It’s fun to have them improvise and make photos of them in movement that comes to them naturally. It’s inspiring to work with them.
Matthew McLaughlin of Mark Morris Dance Group
Matthew and I had so much fun making photos over by “Fred’s Cabin,” one of the oldest structures on the Pillow’s campus!
Much of our work on the media team at Jacob’s Pillow is meant to document the historic events that take place in this special place, but I love getting to do creative portraits and inspired photo shoots with dance artists just for the art of it.
Matthew McLaughlin of Mark Morris Dance Group at Jacob’s Pillow; photos by Christopher Duggan
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Ballet made their historic Pillow debut this summer.
I love making creative portraits alongside performance photos of the same dancers in the same week. I get to see the many sides of the artists and how they are on and off the stage. I’m lucky to be able to capture those different states of creativity.
(left) Emma Mardegan and Nina Tonoli, (right) Elisabeth Tonev and Victor Caixeta, of Dutch National Ballet; photos by Christopher Duggan
Emma Mardegan and Nina Tonoli of Dutch National Ballet with Norton Owen; photo by Christopher Duggan
Norton Owen, Director of Preservation at Jacob’s Pillow, stopped by to chat during our creative portrait session- he is truly a gem (and a comedian)!
Te Ao Mana
Having the opportunity to work with dancers at the Pillow one-on-one in natural light is so great.
Te Ao Mana expands the presence of Indigenous Polynesian culture worldwide through creative projects, dance classes, workshops, and community gathering and sharing. The dance company began in New York City among a group of friends with a passion for the cultural arts of the Polynesian Islands.
Anthony Aiu of Te Ao Mana; photos by Christopher Duggan
The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Contemporary Dancers
The Contemporary Program dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow are always fierce. It’s fun to have the dancers improvise and make photos of them in movement that comes to them naturally.
Celia Handing, Carly Brooks, and Elizabeth Russell at Jacob’s Pillow; photos by Christopher Duggan
Carly Brooks, Xavier Logan, and Natalie Wong at Jacob’s Pillow; photo by Christopher Duggan
Finding beautiful scenery for photos isn’t difficult to do at the Pillow. It’s gorgeous here.
A few hundred acres tucked into the hills – that’s a part of what makes the Pillow what it is, and I love being able to capture that spirit in my photos.
These images were made with love and joy. The experience of making them has enriched my life in countless ways.
I hope you enjoy!
Christopher Duggan is Nel’s husband! He has been the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival photographer since 2006, photographer for Vail Dance since 2021, and has photographed many world-renowned dance companies during his career. In 2022, Christopher’s work was on exhibition in Blake’s Barn at Jacob’s Pillow, in an installation called: “Now & Then: Evocative Dance Portraits by Christopher Duggan.” You can also find Christopher behind-the-video-camera and operating our drone at Nel Shelby Productions. NSP always offers photography as part of our dance services, because we believe dance photography is an essential part of our media toolkit. That includes photographing live performance, in-rehearsal creative processes, and creative portrait shoots. You can learn more about the depth and breadth of Christopher’s dance photography here.