Ever an exhibition of bodily connection, relationships, supple strength and unexpected movement, Pilobolus (Dance Company) is back with two programs featuring old and new segments. Of the five in Series A, I found two captivating beyond the familiarly amusing Walklyndon. (Dancers in yellow spandex and colorful oversized boxer shorts walking back and forth across the stage encountering/getting inadvertently caught by/turning/flipping/ lifting/somersaulting over one another. Kind of John Cleese’s Silly Walk gone viral.)
The first was 2014’s On the Nature of Things performed by Nathaniel Buchsbaum, Krystal Butler, and Quincy Ellis to the music of Vivaldi.
A man is carried over the shoulder of another, much like a slab of meat. The figure is laid on a small, round, raised platform, arms and legs overhanging like a Renaissance painting. Slowly he moves, reaching up to sun? To the gods? Then falls back. The bearer returns with a woman he drapes atop the first dancer. Brief, flesh colored cloth/costume reveals most of these beautiful bodies.
Man and woman curiously inspect one another. Bodies are drawn over heads, down shoulders, between legs; lifted, suspended, overturned, intertwined; held by one limb to reach out over the edge of the small world they occupy…a moving stature morphing, reconfiguring.
The bearer joins them. Is he interested in the man or woman? Tension ensues. Antagonism creates a different kind of movement. That the three figures fit on the surface is amazing, that they drape, twist, and braid up and around the surface more so.
The woman is discarded and lays in a heap on the floor. The bearer tries to merge with the man who seems to escape. He too lays immobile. Our bearer is left. Bereft.
The second is 2017’s Branches, a Joyce premiere, performed by Nathaniel Buchsbaum, Krystal Butler, Quincy Ellis, Heather Favretto, Casey Howes, and Jacob Michael Warren. Music by Superhuman Happiness; David Van Tiegham, David Darling, Riley Lee, Olivier Messiaen, David Poe. Terrific Lighting by Thom Weaver.
Birdsong, flapping wings, water sounds; nature. A group of assorted birds gathers near a pond. Heads jerk, wings lift and fall; they wash and play in the water. Suddenly a male lets out his mating call, then each does; all different. They preen and parade for females who appear less than captivated. “Voices” are wonderful. One gyrates his pelvis as if plugged in…proud and hopeful…but no. Eventually couples dance curving, coiling, climbing, riding the length of each other’s forms. Women showcase a pas de deux- conferring? The group becomes one.
Between dances, covering scene change, short videos of ambiguous amoebic creatures and forms are shown to little effect. Most segments felt long and repetitive. Humor, once a given, was in rare supply, intent obscure. Skill remains omnipresent.
Photos by Megan Moss Freeman
Opening: Nile Russell, Nathaniel Buchsbaum, Jacob Michael Warren, Krystal Butler, Heather Favretto, Zachary Eisenstat
Artistic Directors Renee Jaworski and Matt Kent
The Joyce Theater
Through June 29, 2019