Pilobolus bridges dance with the wonders of the body

By Alice Madden

Get ready. Pilobolus is coming to the Twin Cities this Friday and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m at the Northrop Theater. Pilabolus. Pih-lah-bo-luss. It tickles both mind and tongue, yes? So, what is this strange phenomenon “Pilobolus”? What man, what creature, what BEAST could possibly have deserved such a name? The ever-wise Wikipedia tells us upon first search that Pilobolus is a “genus of fungi that commonly grows on herbivore dung.” Awesome (though not thrilled anymore that it’s dropping by the Cities this weekend). However, the word took on alternate meaning in 1971 when several Dartmouth students took a dance class that changed their perception of movement and athleticism.Pilobolus is a dance non-profit company that began in 1971 as an experimental group that explored physical expresion in a very imaginative fashion. Although Pilobolus’ main focus is on dance theatre performances, the group also has an educational arm, the Pilobolus Institute and a division that offers advertising services, the Pilobolus Creative Services.

You have probably seen Pilabulus in commercials for General Motors, Toyota, IBM, Mobil, Dupont, United Tecnologies or Philips. The growing commercial demand for Pilabolus’ first-rate services sounds logical knowing that they have awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, and grants from the American Dance Festival, the Silver Mountain Foundation, The Anna Fitch Ardenghi Charitable Trust, Darcy and Treacy Beyer, The Diebold Foundation, The Dyson Foundation, The Fisher Foundation, The Greater Hartford Arts Council, and the George and Grace Long Foundation amongst many others.

With a staff of just three choreographers, the dance company has been characterized by the exaggeration of human movement and form, as well as the physical interaction between the performers. These elements have allowed the group to experiment as well with photography and film. Twisted Yoga and The Human Alphabet are two of their most recent publications in collaboration with Roaring Brook Press.

The workshops and courses offered by the Pilobolus Institute are, as they have deffined for the press, less a training in dance than methods of “effective group creativity that use physical expression as their medium”.

Expect the unexpected! Pilobolus dancers will make you reconsider what you think are the limits between dance, theatre, gymnastics, acrobatics, and moving poetry.