By Emma Castleberry
Pilobolus, an internationally celebrated dance company that has toured and created over 120 pieces of repertory in more than 65 countries, will perform its newest show at WCU’s Bardo Arts Center on Thursday, September 29. The Big Five-OH! celebrates the 50th anniversary of the dance company, which was formed in 1971 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Since then, the group has been featured on CBS This Morning, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC’s Today Show, and MTV’s Music Awards, and has performed at the Olympics and the Oscars.
One section of The Big Five-OH! will feature an excerpt from Shadowland, a performance that Pilobolus brought to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2018. Shadowland was not only the first-ever performance by an international dance company in Saudi Arabia but also the country’s first performance of any kind with a male and female cast performing together and a female lead character—accolades that speak to the company’s ground-breaking accessibility and the universality of dance. “Pilobolus is dance by the people for the people,” says artistic director Matt Kent. “You don’t have to come to the theater with any knowledge or cultural background. We are the dance appreciation class—you don’t have to take one first.”
The Big Five-OH! celebrates Pilobolus’s history with both new and vintage selections. By performing work that spans decades, Pilobolus also honors the process by which each dance is realized. “We are a collaborative arts organism,” says Kent. “More important than the specific dances that we make is the fact that we share this ideal that’s been consistent through these 50 years: that people can come together to create something collectively that possesses an emergent quality. The work you see has attributes that none of the people who made the work possess upon their own.”
The Big Five-OH! features partial nudity. Bardo Arts Center is located at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Visit arts.wcu.edu/pilobolus to learn more about the event and purchase tickets.