Schnitzer Hall, 1037 SW Broadway & Main, 790-ARTS, Wednesday April 27, 7:30 pm, $19-43
The first time I saw the Pilobolus Dance Theatre was on a tiny TV screen in college. My modern teacher wanted us to see a tape of what she felt was one of the most influential dance groups of the last 30 years. Fuzzed out by bad video quality, the Pilobolus dancers moved across the screen as if made of liquid, inching along in squishy stops and starts. It wasn't just the crummy recording quality that caused this effect--these dancers were clearly moving in a way humans aren't supposed to move. Onward they wriggled, eventually converging and morphing together into a single, several-person blob of flesh and colorful costumes. The writhing, rippling thing rose up onto its feet and walked away, the girth of its body jiggling between its legs like some sort of huge, grotesque scrotum. I was astounded. This living, breathing creation was horribly beautiful, almost nightmarish--and made by nothing but normal human dancers intertwining their appendages in creative ways. I would never look at dance the same way again, and I would never be as entertained and entranced by dance as I was and continue to be by Pilobolus. Founded in 1971 in a Dartmouth dance class, the original Pilobolus company featured, among others, two male jocks, Moses Pendleton and Jonathan Wolken, with no prior dance training. Their inexperience was a huge factor in the development of Pilobolus' signature style, a lawless eruption of synergy and wild experimentation that could only come from minds unfettered by the burdens of classic craft and technique. This Wednesday's Pilobolus performance, presented by White Bird, features a brand new work by the company, Megawatt. It's set to the music of Radiohead, Primus, and Squarepusher, which should go hand in hand with the bizarre "creatures" that occupy the piece. Free from the rules of an increasingly tired dance tradition, Pilobolus transcend our notions of the physical earth, occupying a whole new realm somewhere between this world and the next.