Marsha Parrilla Explores Her Puerto Rican Heritage as Part of Jacob’s Pillow Creative Residency

Parrilla in Boston. Photo courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

Danza Orgánica artistic director Marsha Parrilla uses movement rooted in multiple dance genres as a vehicle for social justice and women's rights in her dance-theater work. This month she brings her company to its first-ever creative residency at Jacob's Pillow.

“We're just thrilled with this honor—it's a huge milestone, and it comes during our 10th anniversary," says Parrilla, who also founded and produces an annual arts festival in Boston, We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.


“We are very interested in working with New England choreographers as part of the program's portfolio, and Marsha's work rose to the top," says Pamela Tatge, Jacob's Pillow director. “Her work is deeply rooted in her Puerto Rican heritage. It connects some of the traditional dance of her country with a modern dance aesthetic."

During her residency, Parrilla will develop a new work that explores Puerto Rican heritage and identity. Also as part of the residency, she will hold a lecture demonstration for the 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, based on her most recent work, Running in Stillness, which focuses on the impact incarceration has on women and the children of incarcerated parents.

Jacob's Pillow Creative Development Residencies allow selected artists to develop, research and rehearse new repertory. The 2016–17 season has the largest residency roster yet—10 artists, up from 6 the previous season. “We want to be an active participant in creating and developing dance, so we are redoubling our commitment to the support of the creative process," says Tatge, who became the Pillow's new director last April.

Residency artists receive free housing, unlimited use of the Doris Duke Theatre and studio spaces, access to the Pillow's archives, a stipend and resources, such as staff consultation and archival recording. A new, second stipend has been added to allow the artist to bring in a collaborator to inform the work, such as another choreographer, a related artist or an expert in the field. Parrilla hired a researcher, a guitarist and a drummer.

Each residency concludes with a private, informal showing that is filmed for the artist and kept in the Pillow's archives. Another addition: Dance students from nearby colleges watch and participate in an artist talkback.

Parrilla's residency takes place February 20–26. Other residencies this spring include choreographer Ronald K. Brown's collaboration with Grammy Award–winning jazz musician and composer Arturo O'Farrill; New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns with hip-hop duo Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez; and Camille A. Brown's use of hip-hop albums from the '70s onward to explore issues of race, politics, gender and cultural identity.

For more: jacobspillow.org


Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.