PILOBOLUS PHYSICALITY OUTSHINES ARTISTRY.
It would be fair to say that Pilobolus gets better with age, at least if the Stanford Lively Arts's presentation of their Program B offered a composite sketch. The twenty-nine-year-old company offered works choreographed from 1996 to 2000, with the program order in chronological reverse.
It was a bumpy ride back in time.
The afternoon opened with Tsu-Ku-Tsu (2000), a dance for the full six-member company that was sumptuous in color and bestial in spirit. Set to a taiko score composed by Leonard Eto, Tsu-Ku-Tsu added artistry to Pilobolus's signature acrobatic athleticism. Three dancers crouched in yoga's child pose held three others dressed in alternative kimonos on their upper backs, then slowly rose, a trio of floating concubines. Capoeira-style handsprings, elbow cartwheels, and backbends morphed into contact work that evoked Rodin sculptures burst forth from the stone. The piece was hardly trick-oriented, but the audience's constant applause interruptions brought the circus back to town and the high art down.
And down it stayed. Renee Jaworski performed the 1999 solo Femme Noire, choreographed by Alison Chase in collaboration with Rebecca Anderson and Rebecca Stenn. It is difficult to believe that it took three people to create this vacant piece. Pilobolus's collaborative system of choreographing has ample justification in the dances that involve complex partnering and contact innovation. But Femme Noire involved one dancer in a slinky black dress and giant black hat performing bourrees and adjusting her buttocks and breasts in time to Paul Sullivan's piano score.
The men's quartet Gnomen (1997) paid tribute to the late Pilobolus dancer Jim Blanc. One dancer at a time was partnered by the remaining three in a series of swooping, wheeling, tumbling lifts. Unfortunately, it was the treacly score and the musically literal slapstick moments that did Gnomen in. Similar disappointment came with Aeros (1996). Titillating to the children in the audience (and many of the adults), Aeros told the story of an aviator who crash-lands on an alien planet. An interspecies Romeo and Juliet romance transpired, and moments of comic impact came on ding-for-dong cue in a bell-embellished score by Sullivan. One thing's for sure: Given their athletic appeal, it's no wonder the 2002 Cultural Olympiad commissioned Pilobolus to create a new work for the winter games.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2001|
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