Thursday, October 23, 2014

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U.Va. Bringing World-Famous Pilobolus Dance Troupe to Culbreth

Thanks to the University of Virginia Arts Board, the shape-shifting Pilobolus Dance Theatre will lead a series of student workshops next week in conjunction with The Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature.

The festival is an interdisciplinary project that engages architecture, studio art and drama students in yearlong collaborative workshops to research, design and construct “creatures” that will come to life April 20 in a celebratory experience.

The Pilobolus residency will kick off with a live performance, open to the public, on March 6 at 8 p.m. in the Culbreth Theatre. Admission is $10 for the public, but will be free for U.Va. students.

Tickets may be purchased online at the U.Va. Arts Box Office, by phone at 434-924-3326, or in person at the U.Va. Arts Box Office, located in the Culbreth Theatre lobby, on weekdays between noon and 5 p.m.

Please note that the performance may contain partial nudity.

The evening will feature some of the company’s most exciting works, including “The Transformation,” a heartwarming fable told completely in shadow figures.

The troupe will also perform “All Is Not Lost,” a product of Pilobolus’ collaboration with the alternative rock band OK Go. The interactive video of this performance, created with OK Go and Google, was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award.

“Pilobolus is an innovative dance company that has astounded audiences the world over with their inventive, athletic work,” said Kim Brooks Mata, head and artistic director of dance in the Department of Drama, part of U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences. “We are fortunate to have them in residency at the University.”

Pilobolus is named after a fungus that inspired that dance company’s organic, creature-like movements.

“Pilobolus creates engaging work that has its origins in a group-based collaborative process, which relies heavily on finely tuned partnering skills – something our dance students can learn a great deal from,” Mata said. “Their work is mesmerizing, and its playful, sometimes humorous, nature appeals to people of all ages, dancers and nondancers alike.”

The University Arts Board is a student-run program with a three-fold mission: to raise awareness for the arts at U.Va., involve students in the presentation of a national or international arts event and provide students with the opportunity to interact with professional artists.

In the three-day workshop period following the performance, Pilobolus members Matt Kent (artistic director) and Renee Jaworski (associate artistic director) will introduce workshop participants to the company’s principle of collective choreography.

Since 1996, Kent has worked with Pilobolus as a dancer, collaborator, creative director and choreographer. Jaworski has worked with Pilobolus since 2000, including performing at the 2007 Academy Awards, as well as directing, teaching and choreographing.

Kent and Jaworski will help students to devise a performance piece involving the larger-than-life creature puppets built over the course of the U.Va. Festival of the Moving Creature. The students and their creatures will perform their new piece at the festival’s end-of-year event, a parade around Grounds on April 20.

“We’re so excited that Pilobolus is able to collaborate with the Festival of the Moving Creature,” Claire McKercher, co-chair of the U.Va. Arts Board, said. “I feel we’ve created a program that will enrich the education of U.Va.’s arts-focused students and appeal to the wider University community.

“We want to spread the word about U.Va.’s performing arts departments and excite students and remind them how much vibrancy the performing arts can add to our daily lives. Pilobolus is the perfect group to help us do this,” said McKercher, an undergraduate student in the College.

For information on Pilobolus’ U.Va. residency, visit the U.Va. Arts Board Facebook page.

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