Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pilobolus at Wolf Trap

Hello from D.C. ... Still! As I mentioned (I think) I'm staying here with my family until Friday to see the sights of Washington D.C. a little more thoroughly and to relax after a long and successful season. One of my favorite things to do, which I don't get to do too often during the season, is see other companies perform. I feel like it makes me more educated as a dancer both technically (how the steps are executed) and presentationally (the way in which the steps are performed by the dancer).

Pilobolus is a group that began in 1971 in a college dance class and has evolved from there into a company that tours both nationally and internationally. What is so unique about them is that they aren't based in any specific dance technique. Their pieces mostly come out of a creative process involving a couple days of sort of playing around and improvising with each other while the choreographer(s) sit in the front of the room and take notes on what they see. Later, they piece the actions together into a sequence and fit it to the music. The dancers involved in the creation process are even given credit in the program as collaborators for that specific piece.

On with the show:

*"B'ZYRK", created in 2007, was a good opener, but felt like it dragged on a little bit long towards the end. What began as entertaining clowning around failed to develop into anything more. It was sort of like watching rodeo clowns for 20 minutes... Still, the acrobatics were extremely impressive.

*"Pseudopodia", created in 1973, was more along the lines of what I was hoping to see from the company. It was a solo in which the dancer rolled, tumbled, and fell around the stage like an amoeba, never stopping so much as suspending before continuing to ebb and flow around the stage. It was really incredible and I can't even imagine trying to make my body do that.

*"Gnomen" was by far my favorite. The piece was made in 1997 for 4 men and was so incredible because they got to be so versatile. Aside from the expected, but still incredible, "manly" rough-housing the final section was a slow movement where 3 of the men lifted and manipulated the fourth man who seems to be asleep or in a trance the entire time. What was so breath-taking is that all of them were so strong, but so gentle at the same time. There was such a sense of comradery, but not in the traditionally masculine way.

*"Symbiosis" is a pas de deux from 2001 which was the exactly what the title means, "interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, especially to the advantage of both"(oxford english dictionary). You can really see they have such a clear understanding of physics and how it relates to body mechanics. Truly amazing.

*"Megawatt" was the final piece, and my least favorite. It was made in 2004 to music by Radiohead, Primus, and Squarepusher. In this piece it was most evident they don't have a specific movement vocabulary, and the ballet dancer in me wished they did. It sort of just felt like a choreographed "mosh pit", the energy was great, but the movements felt repetitive and somewhat spastic in a way that was impressive at first, but became sort of assaulting in the end.

All in all, it was a wonderful performance in a wonderful venue!



  1. Steve,
    Congrats to OBT on the outstanding reviews in the Post and Times on your DC performance.

    I couldn't get to DC but the updates on the blog made me feel like I was.

  2. Thanks for the review. I'm glad you could make it to the show.

    Andy Herro (Co-Dance Captain, Pilobolus)

  3. Balletfan - I'm sorry you couldn't make it too! It was a fantastic time.

    Julia, And, and Tristan - Thank YOU for such a great show. You all completely blow my mind with your talent and artistry. You've come through my hometown of Portland, OR a couple of times but for whatever reason I've always missed it. I've seen Last Dance and found that so fascinating. So, yeah. It was wonderful to finally see you live.