Pilobolus Dance Theatre - The Brass Ring, Night of the Dark Moon, Ben's Admonition, Day Two
-Onstage with the Dancers
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The Joyce Theater
New York, NY
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 17, 2004
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
Pilobolus Dance Theatre began in a dance class at Dartmouth College in 1971. With four Artistic Directors and six dancers, Pilobolus has a unique repertoire that has been built for over 30 years. Home for Pilobolus is Washington, CT, and the company has received many awards as well as the honor of having works appear in the repertoires of other companies. Pilobolus TOO, a two-person company, performs in smaller venues. Pilobolus repertoire has over 85 choreographed works and continues to seek new, innovative dance forms and concepts. (Program Notes).
The Brass Ring (2002): Choreography by Michael Tracy with Ras Mikey C, Otis Cook, Mark Fucik, Renee Jaworski, Matt Kent, and Jennifer Macavinta; Music by Aaron Copeland, Karl King, Clarence Williams, Joseph Lamb, Scott Joplin, and Gabriel Faure; Costumes by Angelina Avallone; Lighting by Stephen Strawbridge; Performed by Mark Fucik, Andrew Herro, Renee Jaworski, Jennifer Macavinta, Manelich Minniefee, and Matthew Thornton.
With psychedelic unitards and effortless configurations, set to upbeat scores, such as Fanfare for the Common Man and Maple Leaf Rag, The Brass Ring is a kaleidoscopic work by a very talented team of dancers. I call Pilobolus a team, because of their collaborative approach to choreography, direction, musical arrangement, and sheer gravitational balance work. Dancers against dancers push and pull, lean and bend, lift and grab, and climb under and over and through and onto each other. Tonight was my first experience viewing Pilobolus, and their energy, vitality, and creativity are notable. The Brass Ring, performed by the entire company of six, in unisex costumes and partnering (sometimes men partner men, as there are four men to two women), is a visually fascinating and fanciful work.
Night of the Dark Moon (World Premiere): Choreography by Alison Chase with Mark Fucik, Andrew Herro, Renee Jaworski, Jennifer Macavinta, Manelich Minniefee, and Matthew Thornton; Music by Edward Bilous, performed live and recorded with vocals, violas, flutes, and percussion; Costumes by Angelina Avallone; Lighting by Stephen Strawbridge; Performed by Mark Fucik, Andrew Herro, Renee Jaworski, Jennifer Macavinta, Manelich Minniefee, and Matthew Thornton.
To a New Age score, with flowing fog in dark eeriness, a masked woman in red descends in a white twisted sheet with probable, mythological implications. Men in long, black coats with an otherworldly image manipulate a pulley that enables Renee Jaworski to descend, swing, and rise up once more, amidst a "blinded" figure and a pair of goggles. Without historical and literary analysis (This is not the Graham Company with detailed mythological notations), Ms. Jaworski's figure in a tight red dress performs similar clinging and climbing athletics as seen in the first piece, but with dark and driven undertones. Edward Bilous, composer, on the Juilliard Faculty, has created a perfect auditory background to this energetic surrealism. At one point I sensed a gypsy motif; at another, Salvador Dali.
Ben's Admonition (2002): Choreography by Alison Chase with Ras Mikey C and Matt Kent; Music by Paul Sullivan; Costumes by Angelina Avallone; Lighting by Stephen Strawbridge; Performed by two of the following: Mark Fucik, Andrew Herro, Manelich Minniefee, or Matthew Thornton. With historical reference to Ben Franklin, this Philadelphia-created piece implies "hanging together". Thus, two men hang from ropes, bodies swinging, turning, joining, and catapulting against and toward each other in the signature, gravitational and daring choreographic devices. The sound effects, part of Paul Sullivan's score, contain thunder and rain to develop a mood of stormy interplay.
Ben's Admonition was actually one of the high points of the evening, as there were few props, unobtrusive costumes by Angelina Avallone, imaginative imagery, and sensational lighting by Stephen Strawbridge. The program did not indicate which two male dancers performed, but that anonymous gesture seemed deliberate, rather than accidental. This is not a company of individual performers, but, once again, a collaborative team of dancers, and two very agile and athletic men mesmerized the audience here.
Day Two (1980): Directed by Moses Pendleton; Choreography by Daniel Ezralow, Robert Faust, Jamey Hampton, Carol Parker, Moses Pendleton, Peter Pucci, Cynthia Quinn, and Michael Tracy; Music by Brian Eno, David Byrne, and the Talking Heads; Lighting by Neil Peter Jampolis; Performed by Mark Fucik, Andrew Herro, Renee Jaworski, Jennifer Macavinta, Manelich Minniefee, and Matthew Thornton.
Day Two seemed to live up to the Pilobolus reputation for surprise and edgy use of the human body for visual and revolutionary figures. All six dancers, in nude-colored thongs (that's it), skimming on water and rumbling and tumbling across the stage, with blurred sexuality and blurrier individuality, created that kaleidoscopic series of fleshy shapes that signify Pilobolus' natural and innocent style. This was a happy work, ending with water squirting, water sliding, and water throwing. Moses Pendleton, MOMIX, and Co-Founder of Pilobolus, directed this work. The unusual human gyrations and incredible imagery of MOMIX were suggested in Day Two.
Kudos to the entire Pilobolus team.
Pilobolus Dance Theatre
Robby Barnett, Alison Chase, Michael Tracy, and Jonathan Wolken, Artistic Directors
Mark Fucik, Renée Jaworski, Andrew Herro, Jennifer Macavinta, Manelich Minniefee, and Matthew Thornton, Dancers
Itamar Kubovy, Executive Director
Susan Mandler, Company Manager
Daniel Feith, Director of Production
Susan Ericson, Tour Manager-Presenter Liaison
Abigail L. Epprecht, Production Stage Manager
Renee Jaworski, Dance Captain
Neil Peter Jampolis, Lighting Design
IMG Artists, Agent
Ellen Jacobs Associates, Press