| Dance |

Rapidly Spreading Dance Fungus Pilobolus Poised to Invade Miami

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Here are a few signs you're a dance/music/acrobatic company superfan: You can't wait for the next Cirque du Soleil tent to go up in downtown Miami, despite the hellish traffic it creates on Biscayne Boulevard. When you visit Orlando, you stop to "ohh" and "ahh" one more time at the Blue Man Group. You've been digging the multimedia experiences of Momix for the past 30 years.

But here's something you might not know. As with everything from which life germinates, there is an origin, a seed beneath it all. Or, in this case, a fungus: Pilobolus. Like the spore vessel from which it starts, sometimes traveling a great distance (for a bunch of spores, at least) to survive, Pilobolus Dance Theatre began in 1971 as an experimental dance company at Dartmouth College.

Since then, the propagation of its success has reached far and beyond. On Friday and Saturday, Pilobolus will land once again in Miami and, for the first time, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the Knight Masterworks Season.

After leaving the group's headquarters in Washington Depot, Connecticut,

and heading to Manhattan by car, Itamar Kubovy, executive director of

the modern performance company since 2004, says

Pilobolus still adheres to its roots. It's comprised of "six or seven

individuals who essentially are kind of the creative core of the company

in its various activities and manifestations," he explains. "But around that core,

we've got lots of projects that we're engaged in, with a couple of

different groups of dancers. So, it's the same core of imagination and

collaboration working with different groups in different kinds of


The nine people on stage in Miami -- seven dancers and two

production members -- are what constitute the Pilobolus

Dance Theatre, Kubovy says.

"They are involved fundamentally in the creation of

new works. And this is what distinguishes the

artists that will be in Miami. Every single one of them is not just an

incredible dancer, an incredible actor, an incredible performer, but

each one is also a very deep, creative artist, generating original

material that is becoming incorporated into the group's efforts."


the Pilobolus aesthetic has been getting more and more

exposure in recent years. Remember those cool human shadows made to

showcase movies at the 2007 Academy Awards? Those were the Pilobolus

guys. You may have also caught them on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with Conan O' Brien, or in the 2011 Grammy-nominated video

for the song "All Is Not Lost" by Chicago alt-rock band OK Go. (They were up against Adele, and she won

the award a few weeks ago).

"Our intention and vision is to bring

this process that we have developed to as many people in as many

different venues," continues Kubovy. "We don't really discriminate in

terms of our vision between the different stages that we like to perform


Kubovy himself, coming from the worlds of philosophy, stage,

and cinema, has been generating projects for Pilobolus, such as the

International Collaborators Project, a new series that makes possible

some very hip pairings, like having the company work with Steven Banks, the lead

writer for the SpongeBob SquarePants animated series.

Bringing more people -- all kinds of people -- into the Pilobolus community is the responsibility of Lily Binns, co-executive director for


"Pilobolus brings people together in almost everything

that we do -- in the arts, in the educational programs that we offer," says Binns, a former book and magazine editor and author.

"We are a

non-profit company, and we invite people to come in and be a part of the

exciting works that we're making."

In tune with the philosophy of

what Binns cleverly calls this "art organism,"

Pilobolus will be hosting two workshops in South Florida: a free,

reservation-required Modern Dance Master Class at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, at

the Peacock Foundation Studio in the Ziff Opera House, and on Sunday, March 4, a

dancers-only Master Class at the Bienes Center for the Arts at St.

Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale.

As for whether Pilobolus has

inspired or opened doors for other artistic groups that followed and

became worldwide sensations,  Kubovy says, "Many people have told us

that that is the effect that our work has had historically. It's nice to

be told, to hear that. It's always a flattering and exciting thing when

creative work leads to more creative work."

The experience of how

the Pilobolus dancers contort their bodies and play with our senses is

perhaps best summed up by Kubovy in describing the public's reactions.

"A couple of years ago, I think it was the Los Angeles Times, that said

that the sound of an audience in our concerts is different from the

sound of an audience at any other dance concert."

Pilobolus Dance

Theatre performs at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center for the

Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; Friday and Saturday at 8

p.m.; tickets cost $25 to $90; 305- 949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

--Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie, artburstmiami.com

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.