Reggie Wilson’s Moses(es) Fuses Modern and African Dance With Diverse Score

“Post-Show Talk Reggie Wilson/Fist&Heel │ Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014”

The talk above took place after the show announced below:

[Becket, MA] – With an array of ideas and images at its source, Reggie Wilson’s Moses(es) takes audiences on a captivating journey in six performances at Jacob’s Pillow, July 9-13. Wilson’s precise, energetic fusion of modern and African dance is remarkable; Brian Seibert of The New York Times comments, “The dance vocabulary is rich: wide squats, jumps that spin and kick, Egyptian poses, arms rippling like bulrushes, heavy steps.” The choreography is married to a diverse score including music by Louis Armstrong, The Klezmatics, Amahlokohloko, Ngqoko Women’s Ensemble, MaZarher, Aly-Us, Tiger, Bi Kidude, Southern Sons, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and traditional African-American spirituals “Wade In the Water” and “Eli, Eli (Somebody Call Eli)” sung live by the artists of Fist & Heel Performance Group.

Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob’s Pillow, comments “At the intersection of dance, music, anthropology, history, and post-modernism, Reggie Wilson’s work deifies any category. This newest work Moses(es) is exciting, full of surprises, richly layered, and beautifully performed by an international cast of extraordinary talent.”

With inspirations ranging from Zora Neale Hurston’s book Moses, Man of the Mountain to mathematics to cultural explorations in Israel, Egypt, and Turkey, Moses(es) exists at once as a richly textural work of choreography and as a sort of anthropological study. Regarding Wilson’s literary influences, Laura Molzahn of The Chicago Tribune writes: “the rough, unassumingly athletic movement — marked by sudden delicate gestures, like an exquisite little swirl of the hand—perfectly captures the African-American folkloric style of Hurston’s writing.” Wilson draws on dance traditions from capoeira to voguing to postmodern release technique in an inventive pastiche, articulately gathered and crafted into this evening-length work.

The nine performers of Moses(es) are diverse in age, training, and origin, hailing from Kingston, Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago; the Bronx, New York; and elsewhere. Some have been with Wilson’s company for over two decades, others for shy of a year, making the tightly-knit ensemble all the more remarkable. Moses(es) had its world premiere in September 2013. The company, founded in 1989, appeared at Jacob’s Pillow in 1996 and 1998 as part of the Inside/Out series and in the Doris Duke Theatre in 2007.

Reggie Wilson was highlighted in The New York Times in 2013 as a “Mover and Shaper” of the dance industry; at the time, Gia Kourlas described him as “an artist compelled by the idea of looking back to move forward…as such, his sprawling movement pieces fold history into the present, or show how what seems new never truly is.” Wilson’s works have explored themes related to slavery, spirituality, and identity, combining an interest in African Diaspora movement forms and postmodern styles. As a performer, Wilson toured with and was influenced by Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company and creator of the gaga movement language.

Artistic personnel from Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group will lead a master class for intermediate/advanced dancers on Sunday, July 13 from 10am-11:30am. Pre-registration and $15 fee is required to participate; observation is free and on a walk-in basis.

Performance and ticket information

Doris Duke Theatre

Wednesday, July 9 — Saturday, July 12, 8:15pm

Saturday, July 12 & Sunday, July 13, 2:15pm

Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Maura Keefe are offered on the porch of the Doris Duke Theatre 30 minutes before each performance
A Free Post-Show Talk with artists from Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group will take place onstage immediately following the performance on Thursday, July 10
Tickets $22-38. Now on sale online at, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.
Box Office hours: Sun, Mon, Tues, 11am-5pm; Wednesday- Saturday, 11am-8pm

Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member, call 413.243.9919 x125.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped accessible.

[Photo of Anna Schön and Raja Feather Kelly of Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group in “Moses(es)” by Julieta Cervantes]


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