Pilobolus brings the exclusive Chicago engagement of its "Big Five Oh!" tour to the MAC Feb. 5

  • Pilobolus: On the Nature of Things.

    Pilobolus: On the Nature of Things. Courtesy of Robert Whitman

Posted2/4/2023 12:38 AM

Pilobolus, the groundbreaking, legendary, international dance sensation, returns to the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. This performance is the exclusive Chicago area engagement of the company's "Big Five Oh!" tour celebrating a half century of radical creativity and boundary pushing.

Since its founding Pilobolus has become known as one of the most imaginative and entertaining dance companies in the world. It is noted for its dancers that move as poetic athletes, dynamic dancers, acrobatic and shape-shifters who can twist their bodies together to create fabulous illusions.


The program for the Feb. 5 performance features a hand-picked selection of acclaimed pieces from the company's exciting repertoire:

• The high voltage "Megawatt" (2004). Created in the last decade of founder and choreographer Jonathan Wolken's life, this work exemplifies his later work. "Big Five-Oh!" dedicates this "Megawatt" to his memory and his everlasting contribution to Pilobolus and dance theater. For this tour, "Megawatt" has been updated to expand its unfettered exuberance and frenetic expression of life-affirming creative drives and resistance to stagnation by casting dancers in roles that gently subvert stereotypical gender-associated movement vocabulary.

• "Behind the Shadows" (2021). Since Pilobolus's innovation of physical shadow theater at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007, many have copied the techniques and images. A new medium of expression has been embraced by the international performing arts community. For the "Big Five-OH!" Pilobolus offers a shadow performance unlike what audiences have seen before and reveals the technique behind the innovation.

• On the Nature of Things (2014). This work showcases the awe-inspiring strength of three dancers as they contort themselves into living statues, balancing on a small pedestal platform and relying on one another to form gravity-defying tableaus. Playing with the inherent restraint of the small performing area, the dance explores forbidden desire.

• The Ballad (2022). This deeply moving piece, commissioned by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), was made in collaboration with storyteller Darlene Kascak. Dance and spoken word narration marry to explore the rich history of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's relationship to the natural world and the ongoing brutalization of indigenous children.

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"Branches" (2017). Commissioned by the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, "Branches" premiered on the Pillow's iconic Inside/Out stage set against the Berkshire hills. It is scored entirely with natural sound and looks at the competition and struggle between animals using the comedy in our Darwinian world in a way that is inherently unique to Pilobolus.

There will also be a free, 15-minute post-show MAC Chat with the dancers.

Pilobolus is named after a barnyard fungus that propels its spores with extraordinary speed, accuracy and strength. The dance company was founded by a group of Dartmouth College students in 1971 and they continually form diverse collaborations that break down barriers between disciplines and challenge the way we think about dance. Pilobolus has performed in more than 60 countries and been the subject of a profile on "60 Minutes." TV appearances include "CBS This Morning", "NBC's Today Show," "MTV's Video Music Awards, "The Chew," "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in addition to performances at the Academy Awards and the Olympics.

Pilobolus: "The Big Five-Oh" will be at at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. Ticket prices range from $55 to $65. For tickets or additional information call (630) 942-4000 or visit AtTheMAC.org.

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