BWW Reviews: PILOBOLUS Delights Audiences
There are no limits to what wonders Pilobolus can create. And as evidenced by the opening of their summer season at the Joyce Theater, the company's creativity transcends beyond imagination, revolutionizing dance and the human experience.
The show began with the 2014 New York premiere of "The Inconsistent Pedaler," a collaboration between the company, fiction writer Etgar Keret, and filmmaker Shira Geffen (both Israeli). The piece is set at a dysfunctional 99th birthday party, where a young girl holds everyone's life in her ... feet. The theatricality and believability of the surrealist piece were spot-on, where even at one point one may be thinking, "No, Grandpa! Don't stand on those handlebars- you'll fall!" only to realize that Grandpa is actually a highly trained dancer in probably the best shape of his life. The minute details and gimmicks such as little glow-in-the-dark rubber duckies, a man on a trike, and a big baby weaved expertly through the piece about the quest for perfect moments in such limited time.
As the amazing crew quickly transformed the set from one to another, short films were on display, including "Danielle" by Anthony Cerniello, "Explosions" by Dumt & Farligt, and "Wind" by Robert Löbel. Each transitioned between sets very well and kept the audience engaged as they waited for the next piece.
Next up was "All is Not Lost," a replica of their collaboration with the band OK Go, who are known for their inventive self-produced music videos. Audiences were wowed by the company's live version, which had them dance side-by-side with the live projection. It was an incredible behind-the-scenes look of how simple, ordinary movements along with a change in perception can easily create stunning visual effects, leading the audience to think, "That created that?!" This playful and imaginative piece was an obvious hit with the audience.
The remaining pieces varied in style and tone, showcasing the versatility of this already standout company. "Korokoro," began with a much quieter style until the piece introduced Pilobolus' signature style. The bare tones and heavy music gave the piece a solemn feel, but its moves had the audience often ask, "How do they move like that?! Why do they move like that?! Why not?!"
"Masters of Ceremony," performed by Associate Artistic Directors Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent presented a lion tamer and lion dynamic, only there was no lion, merely a downtrodden man. The seriousness of the piece masked the silliness of the story; the audience sympathized with the man whose master demanded obedience from him for the sake of entertainment.
The evening ended with "Megawatt," which was an extraordinary piece to end with, especially considering the piece finished with the most dynamic, incredible, and rigorous sequence of dives and rolls that seemed to never end- all perfectly executed, all perfectly synched. The piece was reminiscent of a wrestling match- loud, high-energy, and full of astonishing acrobatics and stunts. It was a wild thrashing end to the night, causing a real roar of excitement in the audience.
With a lethal combination of intelligence, creativity, innovation, and raw talent, Pilobolus is unmatched. The company makes silliness deliberately serious and surrealism and avant-garde inspiringly relatable in a way that no other company can. Because beyond their quirky antics and impressive physical feats is heart. Pilobolus is not merely trying to impress their audiences but to appeal to them by firing up their senses, awakening their minds, and stirring their souls.
Photo Credit: Robert Whitman