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>  News Releases >   2007 >   March

Following Academy Awards, dance company Pilobolus returns to Dartmouth

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 03/23/07
Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

Courtesy of Pilobolus (photo by John Kane)
Pilobolus is coming back to Dartmouth. See the schedule of events of this week-long celebration at "Pilobolus @ Play."

Who were those shadowy figures forming first a gun, then a shoe, and even a VW minibus between award presenters on Oscar night? Silhouetted behind a curtain, the iconic shapes that formed from bodies melting seamlessly together were the product of Pilobolus, a unique dance company founded at Dartmouth in the early '70s which went on to become an international success. Now, more than 35 years after the troupe first emerged from a Dartmouth dance class, Pilobolus is coming back to Dartmouth.

The company's visit to Dartmouth will be marked by the world premier of B'zyrk, a Dartmouth-commissioned work, the unveiling of the Pilobolus dance archive which the company donated to the College's special collections library, a Montgomery Fellow Lecture and April 2-6 residency by Robby Barnett '72, Michael Tracy '73, and Jonathan Wolken '71, the company's artistic directors. Other events to celebrate the homecoming include "Leaving Tracks," a symposium on historicizing modern dance, a Hood Museum exhibition of Pilobolus dance photographs and a day of community dance workshops.

Pilobolus, best known for its whimsical and theatrical compositions that rely on collaborative choreography and the surprising use of weight-sharing to construct elaborate poses, is named for a fungus. The fungus pilobolus grows on a stalk as a small bladder, pressurized by cell sap and topped by a cap filled with spores. When the fungus ripens, the spores shoot out of the cap at 45 mph, a process that inspired the first choreographed work by the company founders, also called Pilobolus.

B'zyrk is one of five Pilobolus works commissioned by the Hopkins Center and the April 4 premier will be followed by a post-performance discussion with the company members. Jeff James, Director of the Hopkins Center, said of the company's work, "Pilobolus has captured audiences' imaginations with one-of-a-kind creations - lithe, jaw-dropping explorations of the mutability of human bodies. At Dartmouth, we are very proud of their ever-evolving success story, which began, like many a campus project, with students exploring ideas that profoundly intrigued them. We're delighted to celebrate the company's past with the new archives and to help propel Pilobolus' future by supporting the creation of new works." 

April 4 will also mark the opening of the Pilobolus dance archive - a record of photographs, choreography, business dealings and correspondence - that the Rauner Special Collections Library is showcasing in Baker-Berry Library. Jay Satterfield, the Special Collections Librarian, emphasized the myriad scholarly uses presented by the archive. "By documenting the social and business world surrounding the creation of a dance, a dance archive provides new layers of understanding of the creative process and contextualizes the final production. The documents in the archive open new frames for study and reinterpretation by capturing not the dance, but the context surrounding it." The reception inaugurating the exhibit is free and open to the public.

The week-long celebration of Pilobolus and its Dartmouth homecoming, dubbed "Pilobolus @ Play," involved cooperation across the College, including the Hopkins Center, the Hood Museum, the Dartmouth College Library, the Leslie Center for the Humanities and the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Endowment.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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