Monday, July 15, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: ‘Dance We Must’ at WCMA; Cheshire gains Appalachian Trail Community status; Leonard Bernstein talk; the Mastheads kick-off party

“We are thrilled that our many months of hard work have been rewarded with this designation [as an Appalachian Trail Community].” -- Cheshire Appalachian Trail Community Committee co-chairs Eileen Quinn and Karen Daigle

‘Dance We Must’ at WCMA spotlights Jacob’s Pillow founder

Williamstown — The Williams College Museum of Art’s new exhibit “Dance We Must: Treasures from Jacob’s Pillow, 1906-1940” explores the contributions of Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis to American modern dance. Gathering over 350 materials including more than 30 costumes and accessories, over 200 photographs, five original antique costume trunks, and a dozen original artworks from both the Jacob’s Pillow Archives and Williams College Special Collections, the exhibition contextualizes the pioneering work of Shawn and St. Denis within the scope of American art history through artifacts that have never been seen before. “Dance We Must” will be on view Friday, June 29, through Sunday, Nov. 11. The opening celebration for the exhibit will take place Monday, July 2, at 5:30 p.m. and feature performances by Adam H. Weinert and Williams College artist-in-residence in dance Erica Dankmeyer.

St. Denis and Shawn transformed dance in America by developing a style of movement and choreography that sought to connect the physical and the spiritual, often inspired by their understanding of ancient, indigenous and international sources. Images, dances and costumes of Shawn and St. Denis intended to celebrate other cultures may be deeply offensive to contemporary audiences, and the historical context within which they lived and worked will be discussed in the exhibition narrative and programming.

After separating from St. Denis in 1930, Shawn purchased a rundown farm in the Berkshires known as Jacob’s Pillow. There he laid the groundwork for his revolutionary company of Men Dancers as well as the dance festival. Through developing boldly muscular choreography that was influenced by their time farming the land of Jacob’s Pillow and building barn-like dance studios and theaters still used today, Shawn’s Men Dancers choreography placed men rather than women as the dominant bodies in dance, and provided insights into discourses of masculinity and queerness in early 20th-century America.

For more information, contact WCMA at (413) 597-2429.


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Cheshire to celebrate designation as Appalachian Trail Community

Cheshire Appalachian Trail Community Committee co-chairs Eileen Quinn, left, and Karen Daigle. Photo: Cosmo Catalano

Cheshire — State and local leaders will join the Cheshire Appalachian Trail Community Committee and representatives of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to officially celebrate the designation of Cheshire as an Appalachian Trail Community by the ATC Saturday, June 30, will take place at Diane’s Twist, 13 Main St., from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event will include a community hike to the Cheshire Cobbles at 9 a.m., a designation ceremony at 11:30 a.m., a community lunch catered by Bass Water Grill at noon and music from the Amy Ryan Band from noon to 1:30 p.m.

“We are thrilled that our many months of hard work have been rewarded with this designation,” Cheshire Appalachian Trail Community Committee co-chairs Eileen Quinn and Karen Daigle said in a statement. “We wanted to take some concrete action to help bring people to Cheshire by showcasing the A.T.”

Launched in 2010, the Appalachian Trail Community program recognizes communities for their parts in promoting awareness of the Appalachian Trail as an important national asset. The program boasts more than 45 participating communities including Dalton, Great Barrington and North Adams.

The event is free and open to the public. An RSVP to Eileen Quinn at is requested from those who plan on attending the community lunch.


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Berkshire OLLI to present lecture on Leonard Bernstein

Jeremy Yudkin

Pittsfield — The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College will present the illustrated talk “Leonard Bernstein at 100” with Boston University music professor Jeremy Yudkin Saturday, June 30, at 3 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum.

One of the legendary figures of American music, Bernstein was gifted as a pianist, composer and conductor who was also a teacher, social activist, lecturer and writer.  During the lecture, Yudkin will outline Bernstein’s multiple contributions throughout his life and will highlight musical examples from “West Side Story,” “Candide,” “The Chichester Psalms,” “Mass” and other works.

Yudkin is professor of music and co-director of the Center for Beethoven Research at Boston University. He has written eight books: on medieval music and manuscripts, a 16th-century music primer and jazz. His most recent publications include “The Lenox School of Jazz” and “Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Invention of Post Bop” and “Understanding Music,” one of the most successful music-appreciation textbooks.

Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for OLLI and Berkshire Museum members, and free for Berkshire Community College students and youth 17 and under. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact OLLI at (413) 236-2190 or


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The Mastheads to hold kick-off party

Jeffrey Lawrence. Photo courtesy Rutgers University

Pittsfield — The writers’ residency and experimental arts organization the Mastheads will kick off its summer season with a reading and party event Sunday, July 1, at Hotel on North.

Jean Chen Ho. Photo courtesy the Mastheads

Founded in 2017 on the history of American Renaissance authors who produced work in the Berkshires in the mid-19th century, the Mastheads seeks to connect residents to the literary history of the region, create a forum for thinking about place and support the production of new creative work. The kick-off event will begin with a discussion of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” led by Rutgers University English professor Jeffrey Lawrence, followed by a reading featuring the Mastheads’ 2018 writers-n-residence: Jean Chen Ho, Matthew Kramer, Jenna Lyles, Lincoln Michel and Adrienne Raphel.

The event is free and open to the public. It is suggested that attendees read the short story prior to the event. For more information, contact Hotel on North at (413) 358-4741 or



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