At first glance Pilobolus, the self-styled “rebellious dance company” and Chautauqua Institution may seem like a strange pairing, but after two years of Chautauqua Dance residencies, it seems clear that opposites attract.
“I find that Pilobolus is always creating, collaborating and searching for ways to explore movement,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, Chautauqua’s vice president of performing and visual arts. “I will never forget them dancing in the Bestor Plaza fountain and teaching children and seniors alike to explore their own movement potential during their last residency at Chautauqua.”
Instead of returning for what would have been its third consecutive year at the Institution, Pilobolus’ Artistic Directors Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent will join Sasha Janes, Chautauqua Dance’s director of contemporary studies, for this week’s Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations with Chautauqua Dance. The event will air at 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 11, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch. While originally scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5, the conversation had to be postponed due to connection complications caused by Tropical Storm Isaias.
Jaworski and Kent will discuss the Connecticut-based company’s offbeat legacy, starting from its origins at Dartmouth College in 1971, when four of its original founders took a dance composition class together.
“They actually didn’t start as a formalized dance company per se, and I think that’s what makes them different, because they weren’t locked into any sort of regimented style,” Janes said. “They were just a bunch of people getting together and working out how to move their bodies in different ways, and by having no parameters they were free to do whatever they wanted.”
Piloblus, named after the phototropic fungus pilobolus crystallinus, made a name for itself through television appearances like its performance at the 79th Academy Awards and advertisements for Ford, Hyundai, the NFL and more.
Jaworski and Kent will screen brand-new footage from their annual Five Senses Festival, which was and held last weekend, July 31 to Aug. 2, reimagined this year to be socially distant.
“We’re going to be talking about all things Pilobolus,” Janes said. “How did they manage to pull off this performance when everyone else can’t?”
For this year’s Five Senses, participants could walk or drive through Spring Hill Vineyards in Washington, Connecticut, and witness musicians, Pilobolus soloists and art installations scattered across the grounds. Visitors could even enjoy a picnic in the vineyard as they watched.
“This summer, the Five Senses Festival will re-imagine shared experiences in ways to delight our community without stress and within the boundaries of a new environment,” the company wrote in a recent statement.
Jaworski and Kent will also discuss their plans for the company as it approaches its 50th anniversary next year.
“Pilobolus is usually traveling the globe sharing our belief that the human form links all of humanity,” Jaworski and Kent wrote in the same statement. “While we have always felt that a ‘home season’ in our own backyards helps connect our neighbors more deeply to one another, living in the time of Coronavirus suggests that now more than ever our community needs engagement, because in engagement there is hope.”