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Jacob’s Pillow

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On July 9, 1942, the Ted Shawn Theatre, the first theatre in the United States designed specifically for dance, opened its doors. Architect Joseph Franz, who also built The Music Shed at Tanglewood, had agreed with Shawn that the theatre exterior must harmonize with the existing farmhouse and barns.

About Jacob’s Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow began in 1790 as a hard-scrabble mountaintop farm at the top of a twisting, climbing stagecoach road between Boston and Albany. The Pillow has long been a site of pioneering spirit, even before its establishment as a dance organization; in the mid-1800’s the farm was known as a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping to Canada.   In 1931, modern dance pioneer, Ted Shawn, bought the farm as a retreat. In July 1933, Shawn and his Men Dancers started using the deck in front of the Bakalar Studio to give public “Tea Lecture Demonstrations” to promote their work–and to pay the grocer! The first audience of 45 curiosity-seekers expanded weekly so that by summer’s end, people were turned away: roots for what was to evolve into the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival were established.   On July 9, 1942, the Ted Shawn Theatre, the first theatre in the United States designed specifically for dance, opened its doors. Architect Joseph Franz, who also built The Music Shed at Tanglewood, had agreed with Shawn that the theatre exterior must harmonize with the existing farmhouse and barns. Aside from a one-year sabbatical for an Australian tour in 1947, Shawn remained at the helm of the Pillow until his death in 1972 at the age of 81.   The friendly, down-home traditions at Jacob’s Pillow, such as the ringing bell announcing that the Ted Shawn Theatre is open for seating and pre-curtain speeches, are carried over from Shawn’s day. Through careful and considered expansions and renovations of Jacob’s Pillow programs and campus, this historic site in American dance retains the rustic ambiance of “the farm”, as Shawn called it, while continuing to open new doors for dancers and audiences from around the world.
Becket, MA 01223
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Transportation & Parking

Jacob’s Pillow is located in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts in the town of Becket. The 225-acre National Historic Landmark is within easy driving distance of Boston, New York, Albany, Burlington and Hartford. 358 George Carter Road Becket, Massachusetts 01223 GPS Coordinates: 42.264087,-73.117888