My Jacob’s Pillow Experience – Part 1

September 11, 2015
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“I’m attracted to divinity, light, and beauty in all of its manifestations”

The Pillow experience solidifies the end of a season for an artist transitioning into a new season. As it is known for its remarkable foundation in Dance, I believe that the product produced at Jacob’s Pillow signifies the relationship between the mind and body. On this 3-week hike up to the mountains I was expecting to engage in an intense dance program but somewhere in the Berkshires I found myself lost looking for my entire life, the one that I was so attached to.

I felt welcomed by the Pillow upon my second breath on the grounds, the sanctuary of history and genuine people surrounding me was comforting to my built up angst. Orientation started at 5p.m. That would be the moment that the entire group is collectively acknowledged as ‘Jacob’s Pillow Musical Theatre Class of 2015’ for the first time! The experience begun, we were given a tour of the Pillow campus, got assigned duties, paraded on with the history of Jacob’s Pillow and Ted Shawn with side notes of rules, regulations and warnings about time spent at the Pillow Pub. Our first time being introduced to the staff of the program was in Sommers studio. We sat on the floor of the studio, 23 warriors in a large uneven half circle with a fierce portrait of mentor’s screening over us in one straight line of chairs. The Legend, Mr. Chet Walker spoke, instant intimidation! Bill Hastings invited me into his heart within the first 5 minutes of introducing himself to the room, and pretty much things started to change from there. Day one was short but hefty, I didn’t dance a kick or a count but I felt a sense of heavy weight over me. By the end of the night my feelings changed since my arrival. After the first day of events I knew that I was given access to a treasure but I began to get anxious of not being able to take as much as I can back home, my emotions were on a rollercoaster, my character was questioned, I felt so far from my world.

Six days a week dancers were scheduled to be in the studio by 9am and had responsibilities until approximately 10:30pm. Ordinary days consist of technique class, repertory rehearsal, vocal workshops, longer rehearsals, aches and temporary emotions. I went through a series of personal tantrums in the duration of the three weeks. There were moments when I felt unworthy, replaceable and helpless, my body was aching and making decisions that I felt I had no control over, home was far from here and the spirit of doubt crept into my heart at times. I had to understand that this process is very personal and no one was able to comfort. I was forced to dig for an inner self-love to reassure me of my purpose. As directed from the mentors, my method of getting through days training at the Pillow was by being open to all possibilities and welcoming the abundance of that which is yet to come. While working in the studio the choreographers showcased a confidence that symbolized greatness, which was something that I personally used to inspire me to work through any distraction that I was feeling. During the week we are giving the opportunity to watch the guest companies perform at the Inside-Out stage, the same stage that we had to perform on that upcoming weekend. In addition, each participant was assigned duties in the Doris Duke Theatre as well as the Ted Shawn Theatre – which granted us the privilege to communicate personally with the Pillow community as well as watch more refreshing performances to expand our mind which created a sense of encouragement. It was the perfect tug of war battle. I didn’t feel the pressures expecting a bad day or a good day, it was possible to have a tough morning in the studio and magic night at the theatre, this taught me the precious quality of living in the moment and the possibilities that you can create for yourself through being present.

Every day since my departure from Jacob’s Pillow my mind travels to new places of self-discovery. I am having revelations of things that I may have experienced through the process that I did not understand while experiencing it. I find myself being attracted to new assignments; my goals have changed because my life has changed. I am so happy with myself and fortunate to be in the place that I am at. I was afraid but overcame so many deep-rooted fears and I am still alive, I am still able to pour out passion, the passion that I thought was being taken away from me when I felt low. The School at Jacob’s Pillow is for sure an expansion on the mind through dance, I am proud to be a representation of that. I leave you with this, the wonderful Lucie Arnaz shared that there are only 2 type of emotions in this world, Love and Fear; I hold that close to my heart, I encourage you to do the same, Choose Love because through that the possibilities are endless.

Thank You.

-Daquan Whaley
Former Steps Work/Study Student

My Jacob’s Pillow Experience – Part 1