Dance, Main Stage

Pilobolus Returns to the Celebrity Series With New Works

Pilobolous in Echo in the Valley. Photo by Ben McKeown.

You might know avant-garde dance company Pilobolus from their creative and high energy performances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Academy Awards. The company, named after a light-loving fungus, returns to the Celebrity Series of Boston for three performances this weekend at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. They’re bringing several Boston debuts to the stage, including a new work, Echo In The Valley, with music by the extraordinary banjoists Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn.

Pilobolus began at Dartmouth College in 1971 and made their first Celebrity Series appearance a few short years later, in 1976. They have a long history with the Celebrity Series, performing 12 times over the last 20 years! Boston audiences have grown to love the creative and diverse high energy works the company brings year after year.

Named after the Pilobolus crystallinus fungus, whose spores accelerate 0–45 mph in the first millimeter of their flight and adhere to wherever they land, the company has taken a similar approach to physical movement, so the name stuck.

Their Boston debut performance of Echo In The Valley will bring both light and darkness to the stage. Commissioned by the American Dance Festival using the music of banjoists Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, the collaboration is an artistic reflection on the coal mining towns of Kentucky and the strange and dark life of miners. Starting off on a partially illuminated stage, Echo in the Valley uses just one small wooden platform manipulated magically by the dancers to explore resilience and hope as an antidote to the dark fate of the physical world.

Banjoists Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn created the music for Echo in the Valley.

“Some of the most interesting things in the world come together in strange and unique ways and show our diversity,” says Fleck. This artistic partnership with Pilobolus is certainly a thought-provoking way to reflect on the difficult and underground life of coal miners and the daily dangers and struggles they experience.

One of the Pilobolus dancers, Jacob Michael Warren, grew up in Harvard, MA and trained at the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio in Boston. Warren plays a leading role in Echo In The Valley, and his haunted characterization in the piece lends a sense of weight and grief to the striking piece.

The Friday, October 27 performance includes a complimentary post-show talk for all ticket holders with Peter DiMuro of The Dance Complex. He’ll be leading a conversation with Renee Jaworski, Pilobolus co-artistic director, and company members. Read Peter’s thoughts on Pilobolus in advance.

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