Dancers from Pilobolus, which will begin its Five Senses Festival this weekend in Washington, Conn. Photo courtesy Pilobolus

Bits & Bytes: Five Senses Festival; 45th annual Gather-In; WordXWord Festival; crossword puzzles at Sandisfield Arts Center; Vera Quartet at Southfield Church

The main stage at the Gather-In will feature folksingers Kim and Reggie Harris, a performance of Jacob’s Pillow’s Pittsfield Moves! community engagement initiative, the Soul Steps dance troupe from New Jersey, Youth Alive and Funk Box Studio dancers, and more.

Multidisciplinary Five Senses Festival

Béla Fleck. Photo courtesy Pilobolus

Washington, Conn. — International movement and entertainment company Pilobolus will hold the Five Senses Festival, convening the company’s vast network of creative collaborators, at Spring Hill Farm, 292 Bee Brook Road, over three weekends from Friday, July 27, through Saturday, Aug. 11.

Festival attendees will have the opportunity to participate and engage in an intimate and informal setting with artists, speakers, writers, musicians, foodies, performers, scientists and more as they come together to create, inspire, eat and drink in the middle of the woods.

Alexandra Styron. Photo courtesy Pilobolus

Conversations and discussions will take place with Dani Shapiro, author of the best-selling memoirs “Slow Motion” and “Devotion”; Alexandra Styron, author of the soon-to-be-published “Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, and Fixing Almost Everything”; Laurie Santos, teacher of the most popular class at Yale University (“The Psychology of Happiness”) and author of the recent New York Magazine cover story about the subject; author and journalist Abigail Pogrebin; and others. Musical performers will include multiple Grammy Award-winning banjo master Béla Fleck; classical pianist Jeremy Denk; cabaret royalty Julian Fleisher and Lady Rizo; and cellist, composer, singer and activist Ben Sollee. Group activities will include Pilobolus yoga; “Connecting with Balance”: a one-hour workshop aimed at helping seniors reconnect with their bodies and environment; sunrise meditations at 5:30 a.m.; lake and field athletics; and children’s programming. Sporadic and surprise Pilobolus performances will punctuate the event at every turn, and the festival will conclude with “Come to your senses,” Pilobolus’ new evening-length program of premiere works and audience favorites.

Tickets prices vary per individual event. Many events are free or low-cost but require registration due to limited space. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact (860) 868-0538 or fivesensesfest@pilobolus.org.

–E.E.

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Kim and Reggie Harris. Photo: R.L. Geyer

Annual Gather-In festival to celebrate 45 years

Pittsfield — The Gather-In, Berkshire County’s longest running neighborhood festival, will celebrate 45 years with live music and dance, a basketball tournament, children’s activities, a barbecue and more Saturday, July 28, from 1 to 7 p.m. at Durant Park.

The main stage will feature folksingers Kim and Reggie Harris, a performance of Jacob’s Pillow’s Pittsfield Moves! community engagement initiative, the Soul Steps dance troupe from New Jersey, Youth Alive and Funk Box Studio dancers, and more. Activities for children will be featured, and a wide variety of food vendors and community organizations will have a presence. The annual Gather-in basketball tournament will also be held. In addition, Barrington Stage Company has donated four orchestra-seat tickets to its production of “West Side Story” to be raffled off.

NAACP – Berkshire County Branch President Dennis Powell has been involved in the Gather-In since its beginnings in 1973: “For forty five years the Westside community has invited the Berkshires to join them to celebrate family, creativity, community and equality together. The NAACP is proud to have started this vibrant annual festival, and to continue it today.”

The event is free, open to all and family-friendly. For more information and a complete lineup of events, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call (413) 464-7898.

–E.E.

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A recent ‘Walkin’ w/ WordXWord’ event at the Mount in Lenox. Photo: Rebecca McBrien

WordXWord Festival to mark 10 years of poetry, spoken word

Pittsfield — The 10th annual WordXWord Festival will present a wide range of poetry and spoken word events Sunday, July 29, through Sunday, Aug. 5. Celebrating homegrown poetry and spoken word as well as the work of visiting artists, the festival will feature poetry and story slams, including the second annual invitational team poetry slam; themed events; a haiku competition; a day supporting and celebrating the voices of youth poets; outdoor events; and WordXWord’s own twist on the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Leonard Bernstein.

The festival will kick off Sunday, July 29, with “Walkin’ with WordXWord,” an event for which poets and other performing artists have been challenged to create short pieces that respond to and/or resonate with the works included in the SculptureNow exhibition at the Mount in Lenox. The festival will wraps up back at the Mount Sunday, Aug. 5, with the second annual Team Poetry Slam in which four nationally ranked slam teams will go head to head in a spirited competition. Between the stops at the Mount, the festival will present two workshops and seven events in Pittsfield at venues including Hotel on North, Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Berkshire Museum.

All WordXWord events are free and open to the public, though some may require advance registration. The audience is advised that some programs may contain explicit content. WordXWord’s venue partners are committed to providing accessible facilities; however, certain events require that audience members move from stop to stop and may require assistance for some circumstances. For a complete schedule of events, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact WordXWord at web@wXw365.org.

–E.E.

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Author Michelle Arnot to discuss crossword puzzles

Will Shortz and Michelle Arnot. Photo courtesy Sandisfield Arts Center

Sandisfield — Michelle Arnot, author of “Crossword Puzzles for Dummies” and “Four-Letter Words: Secrets of a Crossword Insider” will hold a morning of coffee and crosswords Saturday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. at the Sandisfield Arts Center.

Arnot serves as an official at the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, organized by NPR puzzlemaster Will Shortz. While living in Tokyo, she met the puzzle people who sparked the Sudoku craze. She will introduce the basic principles of American crossword puzzle construction, and look behind the scenes at crossword puzzle development at the New York Times and the puzzles of the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Crossword puzzle guidelines will be available for solvers curious about construction.

The event is free and open to the public but reservations are recommended. For more information or to reserve a space, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Sandisfield Arts Center at (413) 258-4100 or info@sandisfieldartscenter.org.

–E.E.

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The Vera Quartet. Photo: Lindy Tsai

Music at the Southfield Church to present the Vera Quartet

Southfield — Music at the Southfield Church will present graduate string quartet-in-residence at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Fellows the Vera Quartet Saturday, July 28, at 4 p.m. at the Southfield Church, 234 Norfolk Road.

Formed in 2015, the Vera Quartet has been in residence at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany, and completed their first international tour in South Korea. In 2017, the quartet was invited to participate in both the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute and the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar in New York City, and was also one of five artists selected by NPR’s Performance Today to spend a week as the show’s young artist in residence. The quartet has also taken part in the chamber music residency program at the Banff Centre in Canada, and attended the Aspen Music Festival’s Center for Advanced Quartet Studies. Highlights of this season include the ensemble’s New York debut with Schneider Concerts and a tour through Spain as part of the AIE Clasicos en Ruta series. The quartet won the grand prize at the most recent Plowman Chamber Music Competition, first prize at the Chamber Music in Yellow Springs Competition and second prize at the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition in 2017.

The performance is free and open to the public; a retiring collection will be taken in support of the artists. A reception with refreshments will follow the program. For more information, call the Southfield Church at (413) 229-8109.

–E.E.