At Musco Center for the Arts next Wednesday, November 14, a dance company that defies all traditions will take the stage. Pilobolus, a company of dancer-illusionists whose signature movement involves the entangling of bodies to create living sculptures, will bring their newest dance repertory, “Come to Your Senses” to Orange County.
The program combines classic works with new ones and, according to co-artistic director Matt Kent, all relate generally to the idea of “coming to your senses.” What that means to the audience is up for interpretation.
“The show begins by examining our biology in an exploration of the evolution of the eye and ends by utilizing the senses in a refreshing immersion in the biosphere,” said Kent. “You will see expressions of many emotions and relationships… and you’ll also see a shrimp on a treadmill.”
Pilobolus started in 1971 as an experimental dance group made up of Dartmouth college students. If being named after a light-loving fungus that can accelerate spores at speeds up to 45 mph wasn’t unconventional enough, the company continues to break rules and expectations of concert dance.
If you’re not familiar with their work on the proscenium stage, chances are you have seen them in ads for Hyundai, the NFL, in promos for the 2014 Winter Olympics and on the 2007 Academy Awards.
They are a rare example of a concert dance company infiltrating the commercial market. They’ve even been known to label themselves as a dance company for those who don’t like dance as much as for those that do.
“To gently push against the boundaries of what people find interesting and acceptable but not scare them away can be complicated, but necessary,” said Kent.
In “Come to Your Senses,” Pilobolus couples their innovative choreography with digital elements to create a fully immersive, multisensory experience. Through their performance, they intend to break down barriers between various disciplines of dance and focus on the storytelling capability of the craft.
While in residence at The Musco Center this November, Pilobolus principal dancers will work with BFA students at Chapman University to create Pilobolus-style choreography pieces for use in Chapman’s BFA Concert. Orange County School of the Arts students will also have the unique opportunity to learn from Pilobolus company members as a part of the school’s Master Artist Series.
“It is a privilege for our students to work with such a creative and venerable company as Pilobolus,” said Chapman Department of Dance chair Julianne O’Brien Pedersen. “The creative work that the company mentors, and the master classes that they teach, will bring a unique and inspiring approach that I know will open our dancers’ eyes and hearts. This collaborative, innovative, community-based approach to dance at the highest standards aligns well with our mission.”
As does it align with Pilobolus’ aspirations as a company.
Said Kent: “We are very interested in bringing people with different levels of dance knowledge and physical abilities together in workshop settings that result in small performances where they use non-verbal, physical communication to tell their collective story of the human experience.”
Kaitlin Wright is a contributing writer for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org