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PILOBOLIS, Dance Cleveland’s gift to area aficionados

Roy Berko

(Member, Dance Critics Association)

PILOBOLUS is noted for adding both physical and theatrical elements to dance presentations.  They have been credited, in their 44 years of performances, to have added a new way for audiences to look at dance.

Nothing cements the company’s unique style more then what was on display before the start of their recent State Theatre nearly-sold out concert.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience found the proscenium curtain open and the dancers warming up.  It was a preparation not usually seen.  No barre work, stretching, or practicing of couple-lifts here.  Instead, the performers were doing jumping jacks, handstands, tossing each other around, running in undisciplined patterns, doing frog leaps, executing cartwheels, and doing pushups.  Just before curtain went up, they formed a football huddle, arms entwined behind each other’s backs, swayed, talked, laughed, broke the togetherness, and wandered off stage.  They were ready!  So was the keyed up audience.

The program featured five numbers, each of which varied in technique and effect.  Incorporating gymnastics, power strength movements, balancing on circular mini-platforms, combining sensual actions with whimsy and whirlwind with exquisite calm, the dancers created compelling art.

PILOBOLUS’s dances aren’t meant to convey a clear message.  They are often  abstract visions of actions which allow for personal interpretation.  Yet, they prresent well-disciplined and choreographed displays.

The choreographers avoid gender roles.  Males and females share the heavy lifting and often are dressed in the same costumes.  The company’s performances integrate graphics, films, impressive lighting and special effects.

Whether doing dance versions of the famous Tim Conway old man from his days on the Carol Burnett Variety Show, or taking on such serious topics as young love and it’s issues, they seamlessly weave together attention-sustaining actions.

As part of the program, the company challenged the audience to name their newest piece, presently entitled, UNTITLED 2015.  After viewing the door-slamming, body endangering number, my suggestion is ANGST!

There is no way to clearly recreate PILOBOLUS in words.  This is performance that must be seen.

Capsule judgement: It can only be wished that Pam Young and her Dance Cleveland staff do not wait too long before they bring PILOBOLUS back to the area, so that those who missed their recent performance get a chance to experience the creativity and joy the company shared.

 Side note:  Cudos to Donald Rosenberg for an excellent “Dance Matters” column in the program, which gave a wonderful preview of what was to be experienced by the audience.

Next up for Dance Cleveland, on, is, COMPAGNIE KÄFIG on March 7, 2015, 8 PM, Ohio Theatre, which combines Brazilian acrobatics and hip-hop dance.