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Pilobolus at Forty

pilobolus.jpgWouldn’t it be nice if the College were best known for decades of unending, smile-inducing creativity and for turning age-old disciplines on their head with fresh thinking and flawess execution? It can be done, as the Pilobolus dance company — oops, that’s “arts organism” — has demonstrated for forty years. In 1971 four football players took a dance class (it had 30 guys in it; the College was not yet co-ed) in the hope of improving their agility. The four discovered a world of balletic joy that eclipsed the gridiron, even as it offered comparable athleticism. They went on to change modern dance forever.

Associate Professor of Film and Media Jeffrey Ruoff has directed a film celebrating the company. In it he covers a great deal of ground: the group’s origins at the College; a story about the recovery from injury of Matt del Rosario, one of the company’s dancers; a description of the group’s collaboration in Hanover on a piece named “Hapless Hooligan in ‘Still Moving’” with graphic novelist Art Spiegelman; clips from Pilobolus pieces including Gnomen and Symbiosis; and the group’s reaction to the death of co-founder Jonathan Wolken ‘71. Watch the trailer:

The Pilobolus at Forty DVD can be purchased here.

Addendum: In 2005 the company gave its archive to the College.

Addendum: If you want to see the troupe, they will be in Houston in January:

Pilobolus, the dance theatre troupe known for its performances that are part dance, part mime and part sculpture and filled with humor, athleticism and theatricality, returns to Houston Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. in Jones Hall.

The program will include a new premier work featuring escape artistry inspired by Houdini and created with American illusionists Penn and Teller; Rushes (2007), a collaboration with Israeli choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak that depicts an isolated community of broken dreams; The Transformation (2009), an excerpt from the company’s full-length work Shadowland that features a young woman as she is transformed before audience members’ eyes; Ocellus (1972), a classic Pilobolus work with four male company members; and Licks (2013), featuring 12 ropes and six dancers and choreography that is wild, rowdy, dangerous, sexy and absurd.

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