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In 1933, modern dance pioneers Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis decided to put on a show in the barn, and so was Jacob's Pillow born. After decades of advance and retreat and evolution, Jacob's Pillow is now to dance what Tanglewood is to classical music. Once a regular summer venue for Shawn, St. Denis and famed dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, one of their early disciples, the theater has long welcomed troupes of international reputation, including the Paul Taylor Dance Troupe, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Twyla Tharp. The season runs from late June to late August, and tickets go on sale April 1; the schedule is usually available by March 1.

Prominent companies are seen in the main Ted Shawn Theatre, while other troupes are assigned to the Doris Duke Studio Theatre. Admission is free to the Inside/Out, an outdoor stage. The growing campus includes a store, pub, dining room, trestaurant, and exhibition space. Picnic lunches can be preordered 24 hours in advance.