The Perles Family Studio is an integral part of the Pillow’s five-year strategic plan, Vision ‘22, which launches the Pillow as a year-round campus for programs, research, and development with initiatives made possible through a deep commitment to The School at Jacob’s Pillow, artist residencies, community engagement, and educational programs.
“This new studio ensures that our facilities live up to the prestigious reputation of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and symbolizes a commitment to our growing role as a center for dance research, development, and training,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge. “The potential it offers is an investment in dance artists and the future of this form.”
“Paying homage to Jacob’s Pillow’s roots as a farm, we designed the new studio to be thoroughly modern but vernacular to the campus,” says David Croteau, President of Flansburgh Architects.
The 7,373-square-foot building, clad in weathered board and batten wood siding to create a farm-like aesthetic, features a 3,500-square-foot dance floor — nearly double the size of the main rehearsal space currently used by The School at Jacob’s Pillow, the Sommers Studio. As the largest building at Jacob’s Pillow, the studio was thoughtfully arranged like a barn with additions, including smaller spaces such as porches and sheds to complement the 50’ x 70’ central space and create multiple entrances at different levels.
The Perles Family Studio is multifunctional, serving as rehearsal space, instructional space, informal performance space, and facilities for visiting artists. The flexibility of the space is supported by carefully chosen building materials that minimize sound overflow between studios. Clerestories and cupolas control natural light and airflow in addition to concealed underfloor heating and cooling systems, which eliminate temperature and humidity challenges faced by dancers during the summer season. Oversized barn windows and doors create a strong linkage to the Berkshires landscape surrounding the building and a sense of community for dancers and visitors alike. Alcoves, overlooks, and ambulatories allow spectators to view classes and rehearsals without interrupting dancers and faculty. The space can accommodate up to 200 seats, such as for Inside/Out performances in the instances of rain and inclement weather.
The studio will be the new home for The School at Jacob’s Pillow and its prestigious professional advancement programs. A distinguished dance education institution, The School’s summer intensive programs include Ballet, Contemporary, Musical Theatre Dance, and a fourth that changes annually (Tap in 2017), led by legends and luminaries of those fields. Alumni of The School go on to direct their own companies, work as choreographers, dance on Broadway, in films, and with leading companies across the world, including Ballet BC, Dorrance Dance, Martha Graham Dance Company, and American Ballet Theatre, among many others. Throughout the fall, winter, and spring months, the new studio will allow the Pillow to expand its capacity for year-round programming, including increasing the number of Creative Development Residencies it can make available to choreographers.
The studio is named for the Perles Family, in recognition of a lead gift from the Perles Family Foundation and Jacob’s Pillow Trustee Claudia Perles. The project was also supported by a $225,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, one of the largest gifts distributed this year. The project broke ground on October 14, 2017 at an official ground-breaking ceremony.
This project continues the Pillow’s long relationship with local contractor Allegrone. The company has worked on several projects at Jacob’s Pillow including the Inside/Out stage, facility structures, and housing for artists and seasonal staff. Allegrone’s work also includes projects at numerous Berkshire cultural organizations including the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, among others.