For this 50th anniversary celebration, Pilobolus questions its own “givens,” turns its traditions sideways, and brings its past into the future. As fresh and vibrant as ever, Pilobolus –that feisty arts organism– puts the “Oh!” in BIG FIVE OH! and continues to morph its way thrillingly into audiences’ hearts and minds.
The celebration includes signature works from vintage classics to their trend setting innovative work in shadow.
Pilobolus is turning fifty! The remarkable company that secured an iconic place in American culture in the early 1970s is still wowing audiences with its irresistible mix of wit, sensuality, and stunning physical acumen. Now, to celebrate fifty amazing years, the BIG FIVE-OH! tour brings audiences a mix of pieces ranging from the vintage and visionary to the fresh and electrifying. And in the paradoxical Pilobolus tradition of breaking with tradition, the tour presents works dynamically reimagined for a never-before-seen Pilobolus experience.
The high voltage Megawatt (2004), made in the last decade of founder and choreographer Jonathan Wolken’s life, exemplifies his later work. BIG FIVE-OH! dedicates this Megawatt to his memory and his everlasting contribution to Pilobolus and dance theater. For this tour, Megawatt has been updated to expand its unfettered exuberance and frenetic expression of life- affirming creative drives and resistance to stagnation by casting dancers in roles that gently subvert stereotypical gender associated movement vocabulary.
In 1978, Pilobolus premiered Shizen (1978) on Broadway. Arlene Croce praised it as the moment Pilobolus moved from “prose to poetry.” The word translates from Japanese as nature. This classic work is a moving meditation on the human form, nearly naked, accompanied by Master Riley Lee’s solo Shakuhachi. Choreographed by Alison Chase and Moses Pendleton, the piece exemplifies the use of Pilobolus’s signature partnering technique to create confounding eye pleasing images that are greater than the sum of their parts. Dancers embody the forces and scenes of nature in a quietly restorative experience. For the Big Five Oh! Pilobolus utilizes recent innovations in projection technology to re-skin the performers’ bodies with handheld projectors, operated by performers, in imagery referencing the unfolding of the natural world and our relationship to it.
The Solo from the Empty Suitor (1980) is Michale Tracy’s comedic choreographic masterpiece exemplifying the humor of Pilobolus. A classic boy meets girl opening with a twist, our Suitor, clowning in the traditions of Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan, must balance on five long cylinders without touching the ground. Our hapless hero must navigate this unpredictable interaction with balance and quick thinking. Suitor is never the same twice.
Shadow piece: Since Pilobolus’s innovation of physical shadow theater at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007, many have copied the techniques and images. A new medium of expression has been embraced by the international performing arts community. For the BIG FIVE-OH! , Pilobolus will offer a shadow performance unlike what you have seen before, and reveal the technique behind the innovation by altering the perspective of the audience from in front of the screen to behind it dancers spin swivel and turn a moveable screen revealing both the amazing composite shadow figures as well as the technique to create them.
Day 2 (1980) is the epitome of Pilobolus culture. Choreographed by Moses Pendleton, this full company piece includes athletic feats and mind bending partnering expressing joy, darkness, and the exuberant elemental energy of bodies moving together all set to an unforgettable score by Brian Eno and David Byrne. This audience favorite is an invitation to participate in an ecstatic ritual which ends with a joyous surprise finale.
...PROVERBIAL LIGHT BULBS OF INSPIRATION HAVE GONE OFF WITH ENOUGH FREQUENCY FOR PILOBOLUS OVER THE PAST 48 YEARS TO MAKE THE TROUPE A HOUSEHOLD NAME...
A Company’s Classics Take the Stage
- The Wall Street Journal, 201