Preview: Pilobolus at the Harbison Theatre by Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

Next weekend, October 12th and 13th, Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College welcomes world-renowned dance company Pilobolus Seven to the Midlands. Founded in 1971 at Dartmouth College, Pilobolus incorporates a uniquely collaborative creative process that defies the typical director, choreographer, dancer hierarchy at their current home in Connecticut.

According to Communications Liaison Jun Kuribayashi, former Dance Captain and eight season veteran of the company, this collaborative process has a great deal to do with the eclectic and continually evolving nature of the company’s repertoire. Kuribayashi has what would be considered in many companies to be atypical training for a professional dancer, but with an athletic background in swimming, soccer, and gymnastics and a BFA in Dance from the University of Kansas, he is in good company. Pilobolus Seven seeks out well-educated and open-minded intellectuals with some life experience to join their ranks, explains Kuribayashi, who was 25 when he joined the company. The company is currently made up of seven dancers; Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Benjamin Coalter, Matt Del Rosario, Eriko Jimbo, Jordan Kriston, Jun Kuribayashi, and Nile Russell.

What keeps dancers like ninth season member Kuribayashi interested? As the people in the company evolve, the aesthetic of the movement and choreography evolves as well.  While the choreographer dictates the skeleton of a piece, the physical abilities of the individual dancers determine the meat of the movement and the artistic directors mold the shape and add texture. When asked about the aesthetic of the company, Kuribayashi explains that Pilobolus Seven follows no specific genre or style, but creates around what is amusing and entertaining at the time. “There is no right or wrong, just not right now,” Kuribayashi quips when asked about the creative process. He speaks about the “culture” of each piece and says, “it’s not just about dance…the people are amazing.”

What can we expect to see from a company like this? According to Kuribayashi, the program Pilobolus will perform at Midlands Technical College’s new 400 seat state of the art theatre next weekend will take the audience on a two-hour rollercoaster of two years’ worth of emotions. The five piece bill promises to be eclectic and moving, offering something for everyone.  First on the bill is “Rushes.” Choreographed in 2007, the piece is the first of Pilobolus’ International Collaborators Project, with creators Inbal Pinto, Avshalom Pollak and Pilobolus’ own Co-Artistic Director Robby Barnett.  Following this is “All Is Not Lost,” the live performance component of a 2011 video collaboration with the band OK Go. “Gnomen,” a quartet for men choreographed in 1997 is dedicated to the memory of friend of the company, Jim Blanc, who passed away from AIDS. “Duet,” a dance for two women choreographed in 1992 and revived for the company’s 40th Anniversary is making a rare appearance and deals with themes of love, power, and domination. Closing the program is full-company piece “Megawatt.” Choreographed in 2004 to music by Primus, Radiohead, and Squarepusher, “Megawatt” is a high-intensity piece that displays the full range of physical capabilities of the company.

Pilobolus is named after a phototropic fungus often found on farms, and like the fungus, the company is constantly growing and expanding in new directions. Columbia is extremely fortunate to have Emmy Award, Dance Magazine Award, and Brandeis Award winning company Pilobolus Seven in our midst and I highly encourage anyone, dancer, dance appreciator, or dance novice, to take advantage of the opportunity to see national caliber dance here at home.

~ Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

Showtimes are at 7:30 pm Oct. 12 and 13 at Harbison Theatre at Midland’s Technical College. Ticket prices range from $25-$30 and can be purchased at