“First, there’s Pilobolus crystallinus. It’s a phototropic fungus of the family Zygomycetes. It’s macroscopic (it grows to about 1/4 inch at maturity) and it’s coprophilous. Actually it’s enthusiastically coprophilous, for unlike its more fastidious brethren (Lasiobolus cainii, for instance, grows exclusively upon the dung of porcupines) Pilobolus is non-discriminatory in its love of dung and if given a chance it’ll cycle through the digestive system of any herbivore. It grows on a stalk as a small bladder, pressurized by cell sap and topped with a tiny black cap filled with spores. When time and Pilobolus are ripe, this entire sporangium is blasted off with incredible force and the little spore bags can shoot over a cow like clowns out of a cannon. It’s reported that the acceleration – from 0-45 mph in the first mm of flight – is the second fastest in nature. Pilobolus is also a fine marksman. It has a kind of primitive eye that guides its aim and countertop experiments with an illuminated target show it can hit a light source with remarkable accuracy.”
By Pilobolus, the dance company
How many fungi have a chance to prance and dance to live music and in front of a live audience? Pilobolus, that fungus with muscle, will present three New York premieres during its 2003 run at The Joyce Theater, June 23-July 19. The first week will be highlighted by live music performed by the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Michael Tracy’s new work, “My Brother’s Keeper,” a quartet set to an original score by Christos Hatzis, is typically Pilobolean in its physicality and interconnected partnering that consistently draws awes from its audience. The dance, created in close collaboration with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, was premiered in Stanford, CA, where the quartet was in residence.
“Star-Cross’d” by Alison Chase, a premiere-in-progress set to world music, crosses Shakespeare’s classic tale of tragic love with Pilobolean moves. The dance calls upon all six company members who play multiple roles. (At times, several dancers also simultaneously play a single role.) The Joyce performances will present the first installment of the work, which concludes with the balcony scene.
Jonathan Wolken’s dance, “Wedlock,” is a series of eight short tales about different sorts of relationships, some well and some mismatched, each expressed in duet form. The music is to be announced, but expect a jazz-ish sound.
Recent hits such as Michael Tracy’s “The Brass Ring” will be threaded through the season. Commissioned by the 2002 Olympic Arts Festival, “The Brass Ring” is set to American music by Aaron Copeland, Scott Joplin, and Joseph Lamb, among others. The wacky, full company work, which has the dancers costumed in comic action heroes fashion, celebrates the differences and similarities between athletics and dance. Michael Tracy will also be represented by his 2001 work, “Symbiosis,” a delicate and erotic duet set to music by George Crumb, Arvo Part, Jack Body and Thomas Oboe Lee. (During the first week of the season, the St. Lawrence String Quartet will play Christos Hatzis’s “Polypede” in place of the George Crumb score.)
In last year’s “The Four Humours,” Robby Barnett and Jonathan Wolken explore the centuries-old categorization of man’s emotional temperament and physical being according to the four humours: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic. The dance, a quartet set to an original score by Richard Peaslee, transforms itself in mood and movement according to the humour it explores.
Although inspired by a desire to choreograph for the Rockettes, Alison Chase’s “Ben’s Admonition” became a dance for two men; its subject is the play of an unexpected and unusual fraternal relationship. Set to an original score by Paul Sullivan, a good deal of the dance takes place with its dancers suspended in the air.
Alison Chase’s “Tsu-Ku-Tsu” is set to an original percussion score by Japanese Taiko drummer Leonard Eto. Distinguished by its intensely energetic and biomorphic landscape, the dance marks a change in Chase’s work from its dependence on melody and story line.
“Sweet Purgatory,” premiered in 1991 and performed to Dimitri Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, Opus 110a, suggests a poetic resonance in its dark lyricism. The work will be performed to live music by the string quartet.
The season will also feature early Pilobolus works including the hilarious “Walklyndon” (1971), as well as two other company classics: “Untitled” (1975) and “Day Two” (1980).
Pilobolus has received many prestigious honors, including the Scotsman Award for its performances at the Edinburgh Festival; the Berlin Critics’ Prize; the New England Theatre Conference Prize; the Brandeis Award; the Connecticut Commission on the Arts Award for Excellence; and, in 1997, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming. Most recently, the troupe received the 2000 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, which honors choreographers who have made a significant lifetime contribution to American modern dance.
Several of Pilobolus’s artistic directors have been awarded Guggenheim Fellowships and have choreographed for and set works on other companies, including La Scala, the Paris Opera Ballet, Berlin Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Royal Danish Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Netherlands Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, The Joffrey Ballet, Italy’s Verona Ballet and the Ballet National de Nancy et de Lorraine.