Pilobolus Dance Celebrates 50th Anniversary At NJPAC March 12

The celebratory program is a milestone in fifty years of groundbreaking dance from the uniquely feisty arts organism.  

By: Jan. 25, 2023
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Pilobolus Dance Celebrates 50th Anniversary At NJPAC March 12

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents PILOBOLUS Big Five-Oh!, March 12, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. ET. The celebratory program is a milestone in fifty years of groundbreaking dance from the uniquely feisty arts organism.

PILOBOLUS puts the "Oh!" in Big Five Oh!, deliberately questioning its own givens, and turning its traditions sideways to bring its past into the future. As fresh and vibrant as ever are signature works from vintage classics to trend-setting innovative work in shadow. PILOBOLUS Big Five-Oh! tickets are already on sale and available at https://www.njpac.org/event/pilobolus/ or call 1.888.GO.NJPAC.

PILOBOLUS is named after a barnyard fungus that propels its spores with extraordinary speed, accuracy and strength. The dance company was founded by a group of Dartmouth College students in 1971 and they continually form diverse collaborations that break down barriers between disciplines and challenge the way we think about dance. Physically and intellectually, the company engages and inspires audiences around the world through performance, education and creative consultation.

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. The Wall Street Journal said this about their fifty amazing years, "...proverbial light bulbs of inspiration have gone off with enough frequency for Pilobolus over the past years to make them a household name."

Pieces in The Big Five-Oh! are:

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.

Behind the Shadows: 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. Dancers spin, swivel and turn a screen revealing both the amazing composite shadow figures as well as the technique to create them.

On The Nature of Things (2014): Performed by three dancers balanced on a two-foot wide column, On the Nature of Things explores the power of iconic bodies to tell a story about the birth of desire and its intertwined connection to shame and revenge. The title is inspired by the 2,000-year-old Roman poem "De Rerum Natura" by Lucretius, who argued that physics and chance governed the world, rather than frightening godly powers. The score is an adaptation of Vivaldi's Cum Dederit and Violin Concerto, No.9 with additional music by Edward Bilous and Michelle DiBucci.

The Ballad (2022): The Ballad is a new collaboration with Darlene Kascak, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation member and traditional storyteller and educator. The piece features Ms. Kascak's narration of stories from her own childhood, and a monster, the Wendigo, that has roamed Turtle Island since time immemorial. Ms. Kascak's storytelling and the lessons it offers us leaves the audience with a sense of hope, optimism, and awareness of our behavior towards each other and our planet. Dance critic Kristie Spadie says, "The Ballad shows that co-artistic directors Jaworski and Kent are profoundly committed to making dances that create a conversation about social justice, reckon with our country's history, and shine a light on the consequences of how we treat Mother Earth." Branches (2017) - Commissioned by the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and premiered on the Pillow's iconic Inside/Out stage set against the Berkshire hills, Branches is a new work scored using natural sounds and music that ranges from the soundtrack of Ren and Stimpy to the heartbreaking compositions of Messiaen. Branches invites the audience on a journey through nature perceiving the beauty, the aggression, and the absurdity in our natural world in a way that is inherently unique to Pilobolus.

PILOBOLUS is led by RENEE JAWORSKI, Executive Director/Co-Artistic Director and MATT KENT, Artistic Director. RENEE had an extensive creative career working with Pilobolus since 2000 and in 2011 was honored to have been chosen by the founding Artistic Directors to lead Pilobolus into and beyond its post-succession evolution. She served as choreographer and creator for exciting projects and collaborations for stage, film and video such as the 79th Annual Academy Awards, the Grammy nominated video for OKGo's All is Not Lost, Radiolab Live: In the Dark, World Science Festival; Time and the Creative Cosmos and works with myriad outside artists through the International Collaborators Project, as well as overseeing the daily functioning and long-term planning for the company's creative endeavors. As a teacher she facilitates workshops and group projects in diverse communities with dancers and non-dancers alike. In 2010, her alma mater honored her with the University of the Arts Silver Star Alumni Award for her work as an artist in the field of dance. She has performed and toured the world with Momix and Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company. MATT began his career with Pilobolus as a dancer in 1996, creating classics like Gnomen and Selection, a collaboration with Maurice Sendak. He transitioned to directing and choreographing for the Oscars, Radiolab Live: In the Dark, World Science Festival; Time and the Creative Cosmos with Co-Artistic Director Renée Jaworski.In 2011, they were chosen by the founding Artistic Directors to lead Pilobolus in its post-succession evolution. He has directed for the stage and done screen choreography for horses, Chinese acrobats, giant Michael Curry puppets, zombies on The Walking Dead, jugglers, break dancers, actors, LED umbrellas, and dancers. He was nominated for Best Choreography by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle for The Tempest directed by Aaron Posner and Teller. Matt loves exploring and executing the ever-evolving work of Pilobolus as it reaches out to an expanding group of artists, audiences, and populations in ever unexpected ways.


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