Dance is truly what brings all of us together.

Last week after the horrible events that happened in our country this became even more apparent. I was moved to tears on numerous occasions. The Jacob’s Pillow Post-Show Talk we are sharing happened within 24 hours of the killing of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the shooting in Dallas. During “And Still You Must Swing,” conceived and performed by Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards with Jason Samuels Smith, Derick K. Grant & Camille A. Brown, two of the dancers broke down during the performance. It was a defining moment of honesty.

I was unfortunately not at the performance myself, but when my intern shared with me what happened I was moved to tears. I realized how interconnected we all feel – here at the Pillow, and in the dance world. I am so grateful to be in a place where compassion is at the core and dance is what is natural. I had a moment to interview one of my favorite people, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and she said to me that LOVE is what will get us through. I hope you find meaning and healing in this talk. XOXOXO

The performers and choreographers of “And Still You Must Swing,” Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Jason Samuels Smith, Derick K. Grant, and Camille A. Brown, in conversation with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Suzanne Carbonneau.

“I felt like my tribe is here. There is nothing like when you do a move, and someone in the audience understands what that is and where it came from. And that energy of ‘Aha!…’ it’s joy.”

Camille A. Brown

winner of the 2016 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award

One of the things that Camille A. Brown talked about was the importance of honoring who you are and how rhythm lives in  your body – and how hard that is to do.

It reminds me of the work that Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder and artistic director of Urban Bush Women, was doing at the Pillow, too. She directed the Improv Traditions and Innovations Program at The School, encouraging its students to experience the rhythms, styles, and states of physical and mental being essential to embodying African American improvisational traditions and innovations.

Urban Bush Women is currently celebrating thirty years of dance making, traveling, community engagement, and unstoppable learning. Their movement is strong, powerful, and full of hope. It is times like these that rhythm and movement are more powerful than ever.

Nel Shelby is Video Producer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Owner & Filmmaker for Nel Shelby Productions, her New York City-based company dedicated to dance videography and editing. Nel shares her mission to preserve and promote the art of dance with her husband, Christopher Duggan, a dance and wedding photographer. They collaborate on projects with dance companies of worldwide renown, up-and-coming choreographers, dance educators, dance schools and more. Nel is also the proud Director and Producer of PS DANCE! — a New York Emmy-nominated documentary about dance education in NYC’s public schools.

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