Crystal Pite Wins Jacobs Pillow Dance Award

Vancouver choreographer Crystal Pite has won the Jacob's Pillow Dance Award, a $25,000 US honour celebrating visionary dance artists.

Pite, a former Ballet British Columbia and Frankfurt Ballet dancer turned choreographer, will receive the award on June 18 as part of the season opening gala of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass.

"Crystal is one of the most talented, intelligent and original dancemakers to come along in recent years," festival artistic director Ella Baff said in a statement.

"She is respected and admired by the dance field throughout the world and each of her creations is something unexpected and deeply imaginative."

Established in 2007 by an anonymous, ongoing donation, the Jacob Pillow Dance Award pays tribute to an artist "of exceptional vision" and is one of the largest such honours in the dance industry. Past recipients include Tony-winner Bill T. Jones and the late dance legend Merce Cunningham.

Pite's dance company, Kidd Pivot, will also perform her new work Dark Matters at the Jacob's Pillow festival in July.

The West Coast dancer made her choreographic debut with Ballet BC in 1990 and, since then, has seen her creations performed by a growing number of artists and companies in Canada and abroad, including Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Nederlands Dans Theater, Frankfurt Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Alberta Ballet and Ballet Jorgen.

Her work has been recognized widely, with Pite picking up trophies at Toronto's Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Vancouver's Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards and Calgary's Betty Mitchell Awards in recent years.

Pite, who serves as an associate dance artist with the National Art Centre, was also selected to participate in the inaugural edition of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Mentorship Program alongside filmmaker and former ballerina Veronica Tennant.

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