In-residence dance company Pilobolus opens in the Amphitheater with “Pilobolus Maximus”


Beginning today, Chautauqua Institution will be infused with the art of dance throughout the grounds, with the help of the dancers from Pilobolus.

Pilobolus will be performing “Pilobolus Maximus” at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, in the Amphitheater. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, there will be a pre-performance lecture hosted by the Chautauqua Dance Circle in Smith Wilkes Hall.

Matt Kent, co-artistic director for the company, said that the type of dance being performed in “Pilobolus Maximus” cannot necessarily be classified under a label like “contemporary” or “classical,” but warrants instead its own kind of definition that includes acrobatics, creative movement and “creating an image or environment from the bodies of the dancers.”

The performance will be a mix of dances and collections of videos played intermittently.

“It is our expression of a circus that has come to town. It involves low-brow and high-brow comedy, low and high culture,” Kent said. “Some of it is built from older work. There is major variety within the piece, and it certainly has something for everyone.”

At 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, there will be a pop-up performance on Bestor Plaza that will appear as a result of the Department of Performing and Visual Arts’ initiative to involve the entire community in the arts and offer exposure to everyone on the grounds.

“We are really looking forward to offering the workshops and open rehearsals that will allow the audience to be able to have a more authentic experience of the Pilobolus process,” Kent said.

Kent said that if he were to name the show that will be performed on Wednesday on Bestor Plaza, he would title it “Pilobolus is a Fungus.”

“It’s kind of a framework in which we present our pieces and a deconstruction of the process,” he said. “We invite the audience to participate so they are able to move from spectators to participants.”

At 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, Pilobolus will be performing its second and final performance, “Come to Your Senses.” Additionally, the dance company will be hosting several master classes this week in which members of the community can learn from and dance with the dancers. There will also be two open rehearsals where the community is welcome to join Pilobolus to watch the creative process behind the performances. These will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, and at 4 p.m on Thursday, July 19, in the Amphitheater.

The mixture of educational courses, pre-performance lectures and open rehearsals come from the combining of the PAVA department and the Pilobolus Lab, which is interested in educating and involving the community in dance.

According to the Pilobolus website, the Pilobolus Lab “both convenes diverse artists in the development of new work and teaches its creative method to individuals and institutions.”

The company’s creative collaboration has partnered in the past with the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as New York City and Connecticut public schools.

The word “Pilobolus” is derived from the name of a barnyard fungus that is known for its rapid and efficient reproduction and movement as well as its “extraordinary speed, accuracy and strength,” according to the Pilobolus website. Since the company’s founding in 1971 by a group of students at Dartmouth College, Pilobolus has strived to match the efficiency and reach of its namesake fungi by expanding geographically, diversifying both dancers and the pieces and creating a new form of collaboration through dance with a community.

The original company, the Pilobolus Dance Theater, has performed 115 pieces of repertory throughout 64 countries.

“We can’t always find a partner like Chautauqua,” Kent said. “We are really excited for the audience engagement.”

Tags : Come to Your SensesPilobolusPilobolus Maximus

The author Lexie Erdos

Lexie Erdos is a rising senior at Wagner College, where she is pursuing a degree in English literature. Erdos will be covering the dance programs, the CPOA, the board of trustees and arts administration for the Daily. She is the current editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, The Wagnerian. She is an avid lover of animals, yoga and gardening. Upon graduation, she intends to continue her education in veterinary medicine.