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Flash Review 1, 6-28:
Strength Meets Grace as Pilobolus Meets Taiko
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue
Video clip: 1.7MB
You always know, as you're
sitting your tired ass down to see Pilobolus, as I did last night
at the Joyce Theater, that your time-honored beliefs in the nature
of strength, endurance and gravity will not hold. In fact, they
will be brazenly defied. And every time you think "Whoa, how the
hell did they do that?" they will take it a step further. Pilobolus
has been one of my favorite companies for years, not only because
of their rampant athleticism but because their work proves the benefits
of a true ensemble. They're capable of exercising physical and artistic
risks in the way they do because of the intense commitment of each
of the four, count 'em four, artistic directors and the six dancers
(always two women and four men) towards a collaborative, if at times
volatile, creative process.
The collaborative spirit
succeeds in the New York premiere of Alison Chase's "Tsu-Ku-Tsu"
with Taiko drummer Leonard Eto. Upon hearing a few cursory pounds
on the great O-Daiko drum filter from backstage I could feel my
excitement rising before the house lights had been dimmed. I'm a
big fan of Taiko drumming, having collaborated with NYC's own Soh
Daiko, five years ago on my company's first work. So, I was eager
to see what the famed alum of Kodo would do with a group like Pilobolus.
The drama unfolds revealing the sinewy, glittering back of a seasoned
drummer as he raises his arms and sets off a powerful vibration
that rips through your chest. But, from there on, though the drumming
is strong and articulate it's never overpowering. According to some
of the press material this took some figuring out, but further proves
the caliber of their working model.
The dancers begin with
Rebecca Anderson, Josie Coyoc and Benjamin Pring dressed regally
in kimonos crouching on the peasant-clad backs of Otis Cook, Matt
Kent and Gaspard Louis. They slowly grow together into ethereal
creatures of legend before returning to the floor and disrobing
until Louis and Cook in traditional-styled fundoshi engage in a
modern dance sumo struggle. The divine Pring approaches his solo
with exquisite vigor, control and articulation and Coyoc's unkempt
solo is a wild delight. Anderson pounces on Kent and wraps herself
around him with luscious sensual assertion. After a final sequence
full of flying and swinging bodies Pring walks backwards up the
chest of a vertical Kent before dropping into his arms. A sincere
meeting of strength and grace.
Program A also consists
of the 1999 light-hearted solo, "Femme Noire," for Anderson. The
1997 "Gnomen" men's quartet was created in memory of friend and
colleague, Jim Blanc. The gentle beauty of the ending image is breathtaking.
The second half of the program consists of last year's "A Selection."
Here Pilobolus proves that its bizarre and acrobatic style can be
applied towards dark themes. For a more in-depth review check out
PBI's Flash Review, 4-19: "What's Dachau?".
Pilobolus continues with
three different programs until July 22. For more info, visit the
Joyce web site.
(Editor's Note: For more
info on dancer, choreographer, and writer Maura Nguyen Donohue,
visit her company's web
site. To read a review of her recent concert, see Flash
Review, 5-12: Boy in Babeland.)
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