Pilobolus Dance Theater

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Pilobolus Dance Theater

Pilobolus Dance Theater (pīläb´ələs), innovative modern dance company formed (1971) by Moses Pendleton, Jonathan Wolken, Lee Harris, and Robby Barnett from a dance class given by Alison Chase at Dartmouth College. Chase joined the group two years later and shortly thereafter Michael Tracy also became a member; a number of other dancers became members of the troupe over the years. Pilobolus's dances, which are developed collectively, typically involve gymnastics, a unique weight-sharing approach to partnering, group "structures," mime, showmanship, and overt and implied humor. Later dances have often echoed literary works. In 1980 Pendleton and Chase established Momix, an offshoot group, which carries on the original company's gymnastic traditions in dances such as Pendleton's "Passion" (1981) and Baseball (1994). Pendleton has been Momix's artistic director since 1984.

Pilobolus, which is based in Washington Depot, Conn., and tours throughout the United States and abroad, began using outside collaborators in 1999 and outside choreographers in 2007. In 2006, after artistic differences arose among its artistic directors and its management, Alison Chase left the company. Since 1991 Pilobolus has maintained an educational arm, the Pilobolus Institute, devoted to teaching its process and technique.

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