Pilobolus dance troupe: good ideas are like a mouse in your house
November 17, 2018 2:40 PM   Subscribe

"It's named for a sun-loving fungus that lives in cow dung, but the dance form of Pilobolus, which has been gaining momentum for more than 30 years, is a lot more exciting, but we'll let you judge for yourself" (an interview and performance segment from 9 years ago, related to Pilobolus' 2007 Oscar performance). How Pilobolus brings shadows to life (Wired Masterminds video). Pilobolus is more than shadow-dancing, but that creativity and whimsy is always present. From early on, the company "made a specialty of playful topsy-turvy entanglements that defied anatomical logic" and which sometimes "gave rise to bizarre imagery" (blurb from an almost hour long Pilobolus Dance Theater performance/ lecture, recorded in 1998 at C. D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, VA).

About Pilobolus:
Pilobolus crystallinus is a phototropic (light loving) fungus. Commonly known as “Hat Thrower,” its spores accelerate 0–45 mph in the first millimeter of their flight and adhere to wherever they land. The father of Jonathan Wolken was studying pilobolus in his biology lab when the group first formed. The name was apt, and stuck.
Pilobolus previously: Bonus video: Pilobolus performs on Penn & Teller: Fool Us in a piece of movement and magic, inspired by Harry Houdini, called "Escape"
posted by filthy light thief (9 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Pilobolus is fantastic!! Thanks a lot for the post.
posted by strelitzia at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2018

they are so fun.
posted by danjo at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2018

I dunno, I happen to find fungi pretty exciting and Pilobolus is really quite pretty up close. I'd say it's a near thing, which Pilobolus is more interesting than the other.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:39 PM on November 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I find Pilobolus somehow fits into my mind in the same category as Pina Bausch's dance troupe, even though what they do and explore aren't really related to each other much at at all except in how the human body can be explored in interesting ways that surprise an audience into a new mindset.

This is true of much dance, actually, but these two troupes, in very different ways, feel surprising in surprising ways. And isn't that an interesting way to be surprised?
posted by hippybear at 4:05 PM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

The original work from the 70s is what sticks with me. I saw a performance on tv then as a teen that I still remember vividly-- might have been Untitled or a precursor to it. Later in my late 20's I saw Pilobolus live, but those pieces didn't work for me, and I lost interest. I find the shadow stuff merely cute, but symbiosis was very cool.
posted by dougfelt at 12:25 AM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

That was... Pretty amazing. All of it.
posted by Samizdata at 5:55 AM on November 18, 2018

A few years back I saw an astonishing Pilobolus production of James and the Giant Peach. Afterward there were excited kids in the parking lot trying to duplicate some of what they’d seen which was almost as much fun as the play.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got to see them at the American Dance Festival in Durham back in 2010. They really are something!
posted by hydropsyche at 4:44 PM on November 18, 2018

I love Pilobolus and have been to see them twice. They also do a bunch of dances that incorporate adult themes / nudity , so if you have an opportunity to go and want to take younger kids... you might want to double check the program to make sure you're picking one of the more family-friendly dance sets.
posted by Mchelly at 8:29 PM on November 18, 2018

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