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Pilobolus Comes Home


Photo by John Kane

In 1971, a modern dance company called Pilobolus came to life in a rehearsal studio in Dartmouth's Webster Hall. It went on to become one of the most successful dance companies in the world, with three touring companies and an educational program called the Pilobolus Institute. Thirty-four years later, the Pilobolus archive-a treasure that contains material spanning the entire history of the company, from its first days at Dartmouth to the present-has returned to Webster Hall, which today houses Dartmouth College Library's Rauner Special Collections Library.

The Pilobolus archive at Dartmouth includes VHS, Beta, and reel-to-reel videos illustrating the history of individual pieces, from rehearsals to performances; interviews with the company's founders; publicity material; newspaper clippings; and photographs, posters, and playbills. The archive at Dartmouth will be dynamic, with new items added frequently.

"Pilobolus is thrilled and grateful that Dartmouth has welcomed the company back and ensured that its ever-growing legacy is now part of the College in perpetuity," says David Mechlin '72, president of the Pilobolus board of trustees.

The company's artistic leadership today is still shared by four of its original members: Robby Barnett '72, Michael Tracy '73, Jonathan Wolken '71, and Alison Chase, Pilobolus's first and only dance professor at the time. Their approach to dance in the early '70s, based on a collaborative choreographic process and a revolutionary weight-sharing approach to partnering, took the dance world by surprise.

Dartmouth faculty, staff, and students, as well as dance historians and enthusiasts worldwide, will have immediate access to some of the archives, though complete processing may take several years, according to Special Collections Librarian Jay Satterfield.

Dartmouth will also commission new Pilobolus works, which will eventually become part of the archive, and will host numerous Pilobolus performances at the College's Hopkins Center for the Arts over the next several years.

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 5/30/08