Pilobolus, an enigmatic dance theater group originating at Dartmouth, gave the packed house at Marin Civic Center a sense of childlike joy and exuberance with it’s one-night-only performance recently. Projecting a spirited fusion of idiosyncratic personality and youthful energy, the once-fringe group has turned forty years old and into pioneers of original dance. Specifically, the second number, a thrilling and playful groundbreaker called “All is not Lost” brought a rousing response of astonishment. Ingenius. This piece alone is worth the price of admission. Check out the video here and on Youtube.
It’s a collaboration with the Grammy-winning musical group OK Go inventively using video technology. The performance was for all ages although there weren’t that many children in the audience. Young and old, the audience came to expect the unexpected. Choreographer Trish Sie collaborated with OK Go, “the first post-internet band” and Google for this Grammy-nominated treasure.
The performers play with perspective and each other, their bodies pressed against a transparent table top as they climb over it in an array of seemingly spontaneous formations. The dancers wear tights which slide against the surface. They press their bodies into a kaleidoscope of images against the clear surface. That’s videod from below and simulcast to a screen facing the audience. Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern danced with the male ensemble of Benjamin Coalter, Matt del Rosario, Eriko Jimbo, Jordan Kriston and Nile Russell.
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To say this is a version of HTML5 just can’t do it justice but it’s enough to send inventive nerds and geeks scurrying to take computer classes.
Fitzgerald showed a lot of stamina and range performing in four of the five dances of the evening. She collaborated on the choreography as did the other dancers. Each dance came from different costume and lighting designers and there were no sets to speak of. The pre-recorded new-age and surreal music came from a different artist in each dance. The cast itself looked diverse, with equal numbers of men and women but of many different ethnicities. The group with the help of executive director Itamar Kubovy has collaborated with Maurice Sendak and the head writer of “SpongeBob Squarepants”, Steve Banks.
Meanwhile Pilobolus gives workshops to adults and children where students learn how to improvise solo and in groups. It’s a collaborative organization. The group takes donations via the website.
The group intertwines in duets with male/female pairs or male/male. The members create gymnastic ensembles, turn sinuous and sensual, exploratory, surreal. Each work came from the recent repertoire, from 2011 or 2012 with the exception of a love story called “Symbiosis” from 2001.
“Automation” closed the show, a crowd-pleasing, quirky and fun new work from 2012 by choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The dancers acted like cyborgs but projected plenty of human personality and idiosyncracies and athleticism. Even off stage, the dancers have creative and performing interests such as Matt del Rosario surfing, dancing Hula and playing the ukulele. My only complaint is that the costumes in this performance revealed the bodies beautifully but the costumes were not the dazzling colorful and patterned creations in the photos.
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Note associate artistic director Matt Kent has been a movement consultant and he’s been the zombie choreographer for an AMC hit series, “The Walking Dead”.
Pilobolus performs in Germany in March and if the group comes your way, say to New York, OK Go!
Tickets at Marin Civic Center were $50, $35, $25 and premium seats $75. Students 20 and under $20, bargain seats (rows 25 – 34) $20.
This is a beautiful and peaceful location with a lake and the theater looks airy and new. The layout is interesting in that there are no aisles, the rows stretch from one side to the other but there is some nice footroom and comfortable seats. All the seats are on one level with no boxes. There’s lots of free parking and it’s right off the freeway in San Rafael.
The theater offers beer, wine, softdrinks, bottled water and snacks in the lobby.
Attire looked business casual and the audience was all ages.
For more information: www.Pilobolus.com.
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