Let me begin by saying I loved Pilobolus from beginning to end. Why? Because the choreography is full of surprises, the dancers are fabulously athletic and talented and the program had a perfectly paced rhythm, full of punctuation, pauses and surges. I'll back up to explain I am not a dance critic - no credentials. But I am a fan of good dance - or as my friends in the field like to say - the movement arts. I don't know when, where or why dance got the bad rap. But I'll go along with the new name for the sake of progress.
Pilobolus was a treat. My friend and I were in the nose bleeds where we could see the complex choreographic patterns of the dances.
Among my favourite pieces was Gnomen. In it four male dancers move as if suspended in an ephemeral universe. Every fluid action is deliberate, pushing through the air around their bodies in a fascinating combination of delicacy, grace and strength. I was completely absorbed in their world, engrossed in the nuances of each movement.
Every dance was different from the other. I guess when you've been around for 40 years, like Pilobolus has, you have an extensive repertoire.
The music switches up too. It ranges from chant-like throat singing and soft classical to playful Dixieland and percussive rock. The dancers (sorry, movement artists) have access to full expression for any mood.
I know Pilobolus is famous for its shadow dances. We were treated to one shadow gem called Dog - ID. I doubt if it was longer than about three minutes. It begins with a female shadow figure in a petticoated skirt. A larger male figure looms over her, reaches down with his hand, covers her head and musses it about. When he removes his hand, she is headless. Oops. And the story builds. It's really funny in spite of its ominous start. The whimsical score adds a fairy tale twist to it all. I won't spoil it for you because I know you'll want to be surprised when you go either tonight or tomorrow night.
In the two ensemble pieces in the program, the dancers change up the tempo, sometimes hurling their bodies about recklessly. At other times they laboriously hump their bodies along the floor, using only their torsos; or they twist themselves around each other to form human sculptures that morph into duets or solos. As I say never a dull moment. This choreography dares to go places few others would.
One of my biggest complaints about much performance in any genre is the lack of editing. Pilobolus actually leaves you wanting more.
And when the dancers took their bows to a standing O, they beamed. These pros who perform the world over, loved performing for us. Their huge genuine smiles lit up the auditorium. That was the icing on the cake for me.
I recommend Pilobolus. It was an inspired beginning to the Alberta Ballet season and it's a yummy appetizer for the Fluid Movement Arts Festival coming up in October. These two companies can be proud of teaming up to bring these exceptional artists to Calgary.
Culture is such fun, isn't it?