Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble performing at Jacob’s Pillow

For more than 50 years, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble has dazzled audiences with their dynamic and charismatic dance.

Later this month, you can see for yourself why this Denver-based dance company has become one of the nation’s most sought-after dance groups when they return to Jacob’s Pillow for the first time in two decades. .

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble will perform August 17-21 at the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket.

The distinguished modern dance company “is renowned for its dynamic work inspired by the African-American experience and rooted in dance forms and traditions from around the world,” according to Jacob’s Pillow’s website about upcoming performances.

If you’ve never heard of this distinguished dance ensemble before, it might be because they’re based in Denver instead of dance meccas like New York or London, according to member Samiyah Lynnice. of the dance company for five years.

“Sometimes people forget about dancing in Denver,” Lynnice said in a recent interview with Jacob’s Pillow staff members about the Pillow dance company’s upcoming shows. “But we do such amazing things. We mix past, future, present, and we also mix technique and raw passion.

Founder and Artistic Director Cleo Parker Robinson is the heart and soul of the dance company and has created an encouraging artistic environment where dancers can thrive. “We have such a family connection that you get to spend one-on-one time with the director, and she knows how to talk to you about the light,” Lynnice said. “I think a lot of us are here because of her.”

This sense that all dancers are working together towards a common goal is reflected in Robinson’s guiding philosophy – “One Mind, Many Voices”. According to Robinson’s biography on the dance company’s website, this ethos “is reflected in everything she does and is the vision she brings to everyone she meets, wherever she goes.”

Another reason the dance company has captured people’s imaginations over the past half-century also has a lot to do with the dancers who belong to the group, according to Lynnice. “I think the dancers make it special,” Lynnice said. “Each of us brings something so unique to the company. Nobody looks like anybody else.

Lynnice added that she was looking forward to performing at Jacob’s Pillow for the first time. “Dance is there to share,” she said. “You don’t always want to hold it so tight to yourself. Share it with everyone, in the studio and on stage.

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble program at Jacob’s Pillow is something of a retrospective, featuring masterpieces from a rich and diverse repertoire including “Ragtime” (choreographed by Katherine Dunham), “Crossing the Rubicon” (choreographed by Donald McKayle), “Mary Don’t You Weep” (choreographed by Cleo Parker Robinson), “Salomé’s Daughters” (choreographed by Nejla Yatkin) and “Catharsis” (choreographed by Garfield Lemonius).

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble will perform August 17-21 at the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket. For tickets or for more information, visit Jacob’s Pillow website.

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