Pilobolus at NYU Skirball Center: Not to be missed

Pilobolus in 'All Is Not Lost'. Photo by Nadirah Zakariya.
Pilobolus in 'All Is Not Lost'. Photo by Nadirah Zakariya.

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York, New York. 
November 17 (Program A), and November 22 (Program B), 2016.

I could begin and end this review by saying you must see Pilobolus. Of course, that doesn’t come without some reservation; both programs presented at NYU Skirball had hits and misses. But the misses were still delightful, the hits were tremendously high, and the dancers so becoming that you can’t take your eyes off of them. I can’t help but find this company ravishing.

Pilobolus in 'Thresh|Hold'. Photo by John Joyner.

Pilobolus in ‘Thresh|Hold’. Photo by John Joyner.

The highlights included On the Nature of Things (2014), which, providing the current iconography of the company, is the piece that most shows off the dancers’ absolute physical control, an exquisite combination of strength and beauty, and on a pedestal like gods felled and risen. Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Antoine Banks-Sullivan and Jordan Kriston channel ancient tragedies and victories while moving ever so slowly, as striking as the most celebrated works of art. 

Thresh|Hold (2015) is my favorite work on the program, as it was when I saw the company last year. On one side of a door, a man (Fitzgerald Ahern), with comrades who will not act in his favor. On the other side, a woman (Kriston), who will fight with everything she has to keep the love that, in the end, cannot be protected. The dancers launch themselves at each other, men lifting men high in the air; the struggle is real. But the man tries to protect her. He shuts the door on her, and it destroys him. 

Day Two (1980), the only older piece on the program, brings us back to the time when Moses Pendleton was about to launch MOMIX, and the dancers embody a wilder more primitive man. While Thresh|Hold may leave you devastated, Day Two will give you serious energy.

Pilobolus in 'Day Two'. Photo by Roberto Ricci.

Pilobolus in ‘Day Two’. Photo by Roberto Ricci.

Other dances worth noting here include All Is Not Lost (2011), a live recreation of the video the company created in collaboration with a band known for its creative and innovative music videos, Ok Go. Just like the video, it’s pure fun, and really cool to see how it is pulled off with side-by-side platform and live video! Rushes (2007) was on the program the first time I saw Pilobolus perform in 2007. I remember a lot from that show, and this whimsical piece is no exception. You can see a man’s dream, and fall into a trance during the mesmeric journey of chairs sliding across the stage on an endless trek. Wednesday Morning (2015) is cute, short, funny and the most ingenious way to make breakfast.

If you can, catch this season in NYC at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, through December 4, particularly Program A. Otherwise, go see this company when they come to a town near you, and take your family with you.

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.

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