Dynamic Dance at the Kennedy Center: Pilobolus and Keigwin

Classic Arts Features   Dynamic Dance at the Kennedy Center: Pilobolus and Keigwin
Among the Kennedy Center's dance offerings this fall, Pilobolus returns and KEIGWIN + COMPANY makes its venue debut. The latter presents the D.C. premiere of Elements Oct. 22-23.


Formed in 1971 out of the creative forays of the founding members during a dance class at Dartmouth College, Pilobolus Dance Theatre is renowned for its nontraditional, imaginative, and athletic exploration of creative collaboration. Newsday calls them "a mind-blowing troupe of wildly creative and physically daring dancers who leap, fly, intertwine, and break all the rules." The company has taken part in three Olympics opening ceremonies and received worldwide exposure in 2007 when they performed during the Academy Awards and molded, folded, and shaped their bodies into iconic silhouettes evoking the year's films.

October 3 & 4 in the Eisenhower Theater, the company returns to the Kennedy Center for the first time since 2002 to perform several works, including Darkness and Light, a "gripping and decorative" (The New York Sun) collaboration with world-renowned puppeteer Basil Twist that draws on the ancient tradition of shadow theater. With hand-held bulbs and image-manipulating materials based in shadow puppetry techniques, Pilobolus dancers use their bodies to explore the illusion of light and dark, evoking such images as Kandinsky-like aquatic creatures and cosmic elements. The result of this collaboration, a journey between the micro- and macroscopic worlds in which we live, reaches a new frontier of corporeal imagination. Dance critic Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times called it an engrossing work that "cast a spell."

There is an Explore the Arts (formerly Performance Plus_Ê¢) post-performance discussion with company members on October 3, free with your ticket.

The witty, provocative, and theatrical dances of KEIGWIN + COMPANY, one of the fresh new voices on the dance scene, explore contemporary life and pop culture with works that are humorous, innovative, and intelligent. Formed in 2003, the company has exploded onto the dance scene and garnered wide critical praise. The New York Times says, "Keigwin achieves astonishing feats of dancing...a parcel of pure explosive energy mediated by impressive technical skills," while Dance Magazine enthuses, "The kinetic delight of Keigwin's high-powered dancing is infectious, and he doesn't shy away from the 'e' word: entertainment."

In their Kennedy Center debut on October 22 & 23 in the Terrace Theater, New York _based KEIGWIN + COMPANY presents the D.C. premiere of Elements, a work comprised of four suites, each inspired by nature's basic building blocks: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Each suite is underscored by a wide variety of music, from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major and Philip Glass's "Channels and Winds" to Devo's "Whip It" and hip hop. Artistic Director Larry Keigwin applies his signature imagination to loose, multiple interpretations of the elements, bending and twisting them into a sublime movement theater by turns funny, sentimental, and paradoxical.

The "Water" suite's four dances feature white towel _clad dancers strutting or dancing around through campy comedy skits as well as more synchronized, demanding, lyrical movement sequences. "Shower" is accompanied by the Mozart Concerto with dancers wrapped in towels flowing on and off stage in anticipation of an impending rain. "Water" also includes "Sea," "Spa," and "Splash," with music from Eartha Kitt to Mercela Cortes Galvan's "Que Sera de Mi."

To music from Patsy Cline singing "Crazy" to the hip hop song "Walk It Out" by Unk, the sections of the "Fire" suite: "Flicker," "Simmer," "Burn," and "Flame": at turns thrill and sizzle.

"Earth" is expressed through dances Ô_named after varying forms of lizards to music from Debussy to Devo with company members dressed in fall-colored, mixed plaid patterns flicking their tongues and leaping and crawling across Astroturf in "Gecko," "Chameleon," "Dragon," and "Iguana."

The vignettes of the "Air" suite are "Fly," "Float," "Breeze," and "Wind." They feature such metaphorical elements as pilots, flight attendants, and balloons to music from The Fifth Dimension and Philip Glass with Ravi Shankar.

The Newark Star Ledger says what's "impressive about Elements is the way it functions as a virtuoso exercise in shifts of tone, sometimes orchestrated simultaneously as a form of sleight-of-hand, and aided by Mr. Keigwin's catholic taste in musical accompaniment."

There is an Explore the Arts (formerly Performance Plus_Ê¢) post-performance discussion with company members on October 22, free with ticket.


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