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Apr 7, 2015

Pilobolus brings wit, acrobatics, athleticism to dance

April 7, 2015

Paul Hyde, [email protected] 6:31 p.m. EDT March 30, 2015

Pilobolus is a dance company that appeals even to people who’ve never attended a dance concert.

A typical performance is full of wit, acrobatics, pretzel-like contortions and superb athleticism.

Oh, and dance, too.

“We’re sort of a gateway company to the world of dance,” said Matt Kent, an associate artistic director of the company.

“You don’t have to come to the theater with any prior knowledge of the art form to enjoy it,” Kent said. “It’s laid-back and wacky. It’s funny and I think most people are surprised to laugh at a dance performance.”

Pilobolus arrives at the Peace Center on Thursday, April 9.

The seven-member troupe, which tours internationally, will feature several shorter works at the Peace Center.

Pilobolus’ combination of derring-do and artistry will be on full display in its opening work, “On the Nature of Things” (2014), which features three dancers on a small table, moving slowly like a graceful Greek statue come to live.

The Connecticut-based company’s choreographic and musical inspirations are wide-ranging. Musical accompaniment ranges from Vivaldi and Shostakovich to the rock group Ok GO.

True to form for Pilobolus, the works on the Peace Center program are collaborative rather than by one choreographer. “On the Nature of Things” boast 13 creators, for instance.

Typically, the group starts with an idea and everyone works out the moves in the studio.

“The purpose is for everyone to find something that we all fall in love with and that no one thought of on their own,” Kent said. “When we finish, you really can’t remember who had what idea because the room is generating more ideas than any individual. It’s super-intoxicating to be involved in that process where everyone feels like they’re being pulled along by a bigger idea than anyone would have by themselves.”

Pilobolus’ multi-discipline performances have been featured at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, on “Sesame Street,” “60 Minutes” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

The troupe has collaborated with a number of artists, including magicians/comedians Penn and Teller.

Founded by Dartmouth students in 1971, the company has toured in over 64 countries and holds a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming.

Theater-goers should note: Pilobolus’ performance includes some partial nudity and the use of strobe lights.

While in town, the group will also offer a special performance — without the adult content — for students.

For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.