In biology, Pilobolus is a tiny, light-loving fungi known for possessing a “squirt-gun mechanism” that shoots spores at speeds up to 56-miles-per-hour. But the larger, twistier Pilobolus coming to Olympia is a much different animal. On Tuesday, November 12, the New England-based dance troupe takes flight for one night only at the downtown Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
Started in 1971, the group took their name from a humble fungus being studied by the father of founding member Johnathan Wolken. From three original members—athletes and scholars but with little formal dance experience—they’ve grown to include other founders: Robby Barnett, Alison Chase, Martha Clarke, Lee Harris, Moses Pendleton and Michael Tracy.
Non-traditional from the start, Pilobolus describes themselves as “a rebellious dance company. Since 1971, Pilobolus has tested the limits of human physicality to explore the beauty and the power of connected bodies. We continue to bring this tradition to global audiences through our post-disciplinary collaborations with some of the greatest influencers, thinkers, and creators in the world. Now, in our digitally driven and increasingly mediated landscape, we also reach beyond performance to teach people how to connect through designed live experiences. We bring our decades of expertise telling stories with the human form to show diverse communities, brands, and organizations how to maximize group creativity, solve problems, create surprise, and generate joy through the power of nonverbal communication.”
Over the years Pilobolus has traveled to more than 65 countries showcasing more than 120 self-created performances. No stranger to the spotlight, they’ve appeared on television, stage, and screen estimating that “We currently perform our work for over 300,000 people across the U.S. and around the world each year.”
Their Olympia show “Come to Your Senses” is billed as “a multisensory experience, featuring live performances of onstage Pilobolus works alongside transmedia digital creations. In this brand new repertory show, come back to your senses…and explore the connection between the human body and the analog world around us.” Catch a sneak-peek of this “refreshing immersion in the biosphere” through their turbulent, delightful YouTube channel.
“Pilobolus, one of our country’s most popular dance companies, always surprises audiences,” says Washington Center Executive Director, Jill Barnes. “Whether they are using video technology, shadow trickery, or showcasing seemingly superhuman physical powers to create human sculptures. They have been described as dance, theater, and dance-theater. No matter how you choose to interpret their works, the moments they create on stage are a great escape from reality and to truly enjoy into an enriching evening of entertainment. I have seen them multiple times!”
It’s always the oddball, non-sequitur things that stick with us. We may forget 75 percent of what was on our shopping list, but odds are you remember your middle school locker combination or song lyrics from early childhood. Philobolus embraces the organic, creative, free-flowing and the magical. Like their namesake fungus (seen here squirt-gunning spores with evident gusto) they explode with unforgettable joy, riotous movement and passion.
One aspect of their stated mission is to “Expand and diversify audiences through projects of all types and scales—in live performance, film, and digital media, characterized by the qualities of our namesake fungus—adventurous, adaptive, athletic, surprising and revealing of beauty in unexpected places.” Come find the beauty alongside them for this once in a lifetime Olympia opportunity. Date night, girl’s night out, or just an escape from the ordinary it’s definitely not to be missed.
Tickets to the downtown show are available online or via the Center’s box office. Drop by their window at 512 Washington Street SE Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. or give them a call within that same timeframe at 360-753-8586, extension 1. Seats range from $25 to $79 and the night’s excitement is sponsored by Pellegrino’s Catering and Events. This, and a weekend stop at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts, are their only Pacific Northwest tour engagements through mid-2020. Follow the Washington Center and Pilobolus on Facebook for details, event listings, and upcoming shows.