Dancer Adam Weinert grows up on Ted Shawn’s vision with a garden at Jacob’s Pillow

“There are a lot of people in the Berkshires who might like to help out in the garden, and we would love their help,” said Adam Weinert, above, planting garlic earlier in the season. Photo: Christophe Duggan

BECKET – It only takes a moment with the dancer Adam weinert to feel that he is as comfortable gripping the ballet barre as he is the handle of a garden rake, doing both with equal grace and skill. Weinert, who visited for the first time Jacob’s pillow as a student in 2002, was intrigued by what he learned about the rocky ground of Becket on Ted shawn (the founder of The Pillow) and his Men Dancers, namely the inherent link between farming and dancing atop George Carter Road, from 1931.

“[Shawn] and his dancers did garden, and it was an important part of their physical training and creative practice, ”Weinert recently told The Edge. You would think these were lofty ideals until the period was considered – it was the Great Depression, and they needed food.

Adam Weinert works hard in Jacob’s Garden, planting the Three Sisters (corn, squash, and beans) in honor of Native American roots in ancient Mohican lands. Photo: Hannach Van Sickle

This season, in pilot partnership with Weinert and Brett Perry of Dancing Farmer, LLC, Jacob’s Pillow inaugurates Jacob’s garden, a place to grow fruits and vegetables and connect dancers and audiences to the multiple stories that exist on earth, while pointing to a more sustainable future. The garden itself – a 1.5 acre plot designed to be both a working farm, a living archive, and a space to invite coordination with members of the local community – is inspired by the “Garden of Shawn’s Friendship ”(albeit in Florida) where visitors would come carrying seeds, plants and cuttings which became“ an archive of all who visited ”. Shawn’s ethics are integral to Weinert’s vision for the community pillow garden.

The seeds for this auspicious partnership were likely planted when Weinert was asked to reconstruct and perform some of Shawn’s early solos at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As part of his research, he decided to find a job on a farm. “I didn’t expect it to be very deep,” Weinert admitted, surrounded on all sides by the fruits of his current labors, including garlic, chard, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and basil. “He [simply] seemed like a part of their training that I should replicate, ”he continued, the audible trill of birds filling Becket’s moist air as he spoke.

So he repeated that he had, finding, after only a few weeks on this particular farm, that his experience “has really changed. [his] sense of space and time, [and his] relative to the ground. From that moment on, Weinert embarked on a journey to combine what he calls an inherent connection between dance and agriculture – a connection that literally comes to fruition on the very land Shawn turned to for his lift. own challenges.

Adam Weinert Jacobs Pillow Garden
Tomatoes that grow from hay bales are one of the necessary urban farming hacks that Manhattan-raised Weinert brought with him to the rocky lands of Jacob’s Pillow. Photo: Hannah Van Sickle

“There is a chapter in queer history that Ted Shawn and his dancing men occupy,” Weinert said, noting the riots that broke out outside the concert halls where they happened because, until then , dancing was not a man’s profession. “It was actually a really stimulating idea. [for many]”Weinert said. Therefore, Shawn had his own challenges:

“He thought that the ballet was a kind of bourgeois, euro-centric [genre] he wanted to get away from ”, hence his performance in union halls and train stations, with the aim of talking to Americans. The conversation finally caught, Shawn paved the way for modern American male dancers around the world.

Jacob’s Garden’s inaugural season has been in the works for many years. “No one ever said ‘no’, but the idea was a bit outside of [both parties’] collective wheelhouse, ”Weinert said. But the sustainability conversations associated with this past COVID year have ultimately conspired to bring the garden ‘to the finish line’. On Saturday Weinert and I discussed the challenges of planting a triple row of marigolds in an attempt to attract pollinators.

“There was no digging here!” he said with a small laugh, winking at the visible rocky ledge where his tomatoes were to be planted. Instead, they grow from hollowed out centers of hay bales, with hatched branches forming a natural trellis to climb on – an urban farming hack that Weinert, who grew up in Manhattan, is well versed in.

While not on purpose, everything is organized in sets of four. “The dancers always count the music by 4 or 8”, another reflection of the innate way in which Weinert’s two vocations are intrinsically linked. Suffice it to say that it is in its two elements. As for what Weinert hopes to accomplish in this inaugural partnership at The Pillow?

Jacob Garden
Plant garlic in Jacob’s Garden earlier in the season. Photo: Christophe Duggan

“I would like to see all the dancers – students, companies, interns – take a walk in the garden, have this experience of engaging in this space which is a really important space for dance… because dance is not. that a part. Concretely, I like this as a new vector of community engagement, which we can already see with Greeners, and I hope with Rising roots. There are a lot of people in the Berkshires who would love to help out in the garden, and we would love their help. I hope this can also be a model for other nonprofits with underutilized land assets … especially after seeing, last year, how the global food supply chain does not always work well. for everyone.

The garden’s first harvest yielded 7.5 pounds of fresh produce, all of which was used in the Pillow Stone Dining Room (where the chef paired tofu with fresh garlic scapes and didn’t never sold so much tofu!) Hopefully, the garlic, planted last October, will be ready to be harvested in time for the groundbreaking event. “I would love to send everyone home with a few!” Said Weinert.

NOTE: the inaugural event in Jacob’s garden, the Saturday July 10 at noon, will feature Kristen Wyman (Nipmuc) from The repatriation of the eastern woods, who will make an offering to the Earth; a movement-based activation performed by Orlando Zane Hunter Jr. and Ricarrdo Valentine of the Bessie Award winning company Brother (s) Dance!; and Adam Weinert, who was honored with a 2020 Bessie for Outstanding Revival for his work around the Ted Shawn legacy. Weinert, Brett Perry, Cynthia Koppe, Brandon Washington and Ching Ching Wong will present “Tillers of the Soil” (choreographed by Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis in 1916) and guide the audience in a line dance accompanied by live music.

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