Widely acknowledged as the father of jazz dance, Jack Cole is known for his mashups of East Indian dance with popular music, seen widely in nightclubs and on stage and screen from the 1940s until the 1970s. Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen and Scholar-in-Residence Maura Keefe present two contrasting stories of how Jack Cole first combined these two artforms and explore Cole's connections to the beginnings of Jacob's Pillow and founder Ted Shawn. Resources include unpublished manuscripts by Shawn and Denishawn dancer Anna Austin and a video interview with Larry Billman, founder of The Academy of Dance on Film.
EXCERPT from PillowTalk: Jack Cole Unsung Genius. Recorded August 14, 2010.
PillowTalks feature world-renowned choreographers, dancers, authors, filmmakers, historians, and critics in live hour-long moderated discussions of the cultural forces shaping the field of dance. Curated by Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen and moderated by Jacob's Pillow Scholars-in-Residence, PillowTalks use dance as a prism to explore the world at large.
Founder of The Academy of Dance on Film, Larry Billman, began his professional entertainment career at the age of 16 in a production of The Boy Friend at the Ivar Theatre in his hometown of Hollywood, where he studied dance with Jack Cole, Eugene Loring, and the Lester Horton Dance Theatre. After 15 years of film, television, stage and nightclub performances, he made the transition to writer/director and began a [to date] 31 year-long career with Disney live entertainment, creating hundreds of shows for their theme parks worldwide, eventually being named Director of Entertainment for the Tokyo Disneyland opening in 1983.
Billman is the author of Film Choreographers and Dance Directors (McFarland & Co. 1996), the first encyclopedia detailing the dance artists who made the movies "Move". Because of his frustrations in trying to locate information about this important American cultural art form, he founded The Academy of Dance on Film, a nonprofit research center in Hollywood which gathers and shares printed and visual material to document the history and honor the movement makers in commercial film, television and music video.
Contemporary dance historian and dance writer Maura Keefe is a Scholar-in-Residence at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. She has led audience engagement programs at numerous locations including Princeton University, UCLA, the Goethe Institut, City Center and DANCECleveland. Her current research areas are the exploration of the choreography of talking dancing in contemporary dance and the relationships between dance
and sports. Keefe has an MFA in choreography and performance from Smith College, and a PhD in dance history and theory from University of California, Riverside. She is the chair of the Department of Dance at SUNY College at Brockport.
As Director of Preservation for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Norton Owen programs the PillowTalks series, directs all activities involving the extensive Archives, and serves as curator for several exhibitions each season. He is a contributing author to numerous books and publications, Past Chair of the Dance Heritage Coalition, President of the O'Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, and was for many years the Institute Director of the José Limón Dance Foundation. In 2000, Dance/USA honored Owen with its Ernie Award for "unsung heroes who have led exemplary lives in dance."