Pilobolus shows skill in dance, movement

by Jess McCarter | 11/27/96 6:00am

Pilobolus (Pil-AH-bo-les) is a noun defined in Webster's Dictionary as "an absolutely amazing dance troupe, capable of creating the illusion of motion when still and stillness when in motion."

The dance troupe Pilobolus, which is more than deserving of its definition, gave an astounding program of dance and movement at the Moore Theater last night.

The show began with a piece entitled "Aeros," one of Pilobolus' newer routines. A plane-wrecked pilot and a pseudo-nymph in an odd fantasy world dance around and around, increasingly drawn to one another.

Their flights through the air are made possible by support from the other dancers. It is an amazing give-and-take, an illusion of pure motion, graceful and slow, as the dancers drift away from one another and then fall back together.

Just as it seems the two are to join, his "rockets" finally function, sending him up and away from the enchanting fantasy world he seemed to begin to appreciate.

The costumes consisted of bright leotards, colored a mixture of hues that can only be described as an LSD user's nightmare. As they danced to the edges of the stage, spotlights caught tiny speckles in the outfits and turned them into bright shards of light.

The second piece, "Pseudopodia," a solo performed by Rebecca Anderson to a backing of intense drums, was pure motion. She rolled around the stage like a ball, jumped and spun, occasionally shifting from human to geometric shape.

The red leotard combined with red lighting created the impression of fire, uncontainable. This impression was enhanced by the movement, which resembled flames creeping up and spreading out.

The last piece in the first half, "Shizen," was a slow motion duo, accompanied by the strains of oriental flutes. The two dancers filled the darkened stage with the immensity of their control, each movement slow and defined.

The physical prowess of this group is something they have always been famed for -- and they have certainly earned that fame.

The amount of energy and the requirements in terms of muscle strength, endurance and control are quite intense.

To add some light-heartedness to the performance, the troupe returned after the intermission with a solo from a longer work titled "The Empty Suitor." Performed by Michael Tracy, the piece was very much like the physical comedy of a Charlie Chaplain movie.

This show celebrated Pilobolus' 25th anniversary of creating illusions. They were founded here at Dartmouth by two students and quickly grew from there.

Jonathan Wolken '71, one of the co-founders of Pilobolus, named the group after a bacterium he observed in his father's lab.