Pilobolus Dance Company astonishes with clever physical feats.
It’s been 48 years since a group of Dartmouth College students got together to form the Pilobolus Dance Company.
Not schooled in nor attached to the classical arts, the founders wowed the dance world with their ground-breaking works that settled on creating whimsical and comical illusions through astonishing and clever physical feats. Moreover, the works were not driven by one choreographer, but by the group.
As the dance world has evolved and morphed into many different styles, Pilobolus is no longer unique. Yet the company still holds a grip on its avid fans who nearly filled The Egg on Saturday night.
For this show, the company brought seven of its 16 dancers who presented a range of works – old and new. The program demonstrated that not all of the early works – the ones that sparked their fame – hold up today.
“Untitled” from 1979 is among them. Krystal Butler and Heather Favretto ride the shoulder of Nathaniel Buchsbaum and Zachery Eisenstat who were hidden by their long gowns. Thus they appeared to be tall women experiencing a variety of scenario – including a stroll with suitors and giving birth. However, the sight gag didn’t outlast the piece.
Yet one of the company’s first works from 1971, “Walklyndon” is enduring. This funny piece has six crossing the stage with silly gaits that lead to even sillier encounters.
“Gnomen” and “Symbiosis,” from 1997 to 2001 respectively, are classic Pilobolus – graceful displays of acrobatic physical strength that hypnotize the viewer. The bodies in both of these dances – a quartet for men and then a duet for a man and woman – astonish with sculptural poses that transform again and again.
The company finished out the program with a 2017 piece, “Branches,” in which the cast of six are birds – splashing in the water, settling in the trees and of course, flying. Created by the company’s current artistic directors Renee Jaworski and Matt Kent, it is a beautiful work that is not afraid to be literal with the gorgeous sound design by David Van Teighem.
In between the choreographic gems, the company showed three short, intriguing videos. The best was “Magnifico,” a series of silhouettes of dancers forming themselves into collages of African animals and Greek urns.
Like much of the show, it was magnifico.