WHY DID YOU NAME YOUR DANCE COMPANY AFTER A FUNGUS?
is worthy of emulation. It’s small but feisty, energetic, responsive, adaptable,adventurous. It lives outdoors. And it’s got good graphics; the name looks cool on a page and seems tohouse, even for those unacquainted with its personality, pleasantly obscure reverberations of athleticismand Greek muscularity. (And even in 1971 we recognised a better marketing line than The VermontNatural Theater, an earlier and quickly jettisoned alternative.)
SO HOW DID YOU ALL GET TOGETHER?
In the fall of 1970 the primordial Pilobolus was an earnest huddle of four young men at DartmouthCollege, in sweatpants and panic, surveying the mist-enshrouded prospect of their rst choreographicassignment. The notion that we should somehow stand by ourselves, alone, in front of other people,was inconceivable, so motivated more by fear than collegiality, we clung to each other, for moral as wellas physical support, and in this way, commingled and mutually-supporting, we began to build dances...en masse.
IS THIS DANCE OR GYMNASTICS?
The training of dancers has traditionally focused upon thecentering of a single body moving alone through space. Our approach - and it was one arrived at through nothing morethan sheer necessity - was to construct ourselves into a groupshape, something that we hoped made references beyond itself - to plants or insects or cell walls - and then to try to make itmove. We subsequently discovered that when people dancetogether it’s called partnering and that it’s customarily done inpairs. The dance world seemed not to possess the terminologyto deal with a clump of four men twisted together like proteinsand we attracted a lot of curious attention. And incredibly,the possibilities seemed to open in front of us with constantlyrenewing detail as we explored the opposing and mirrored sidesof this new world... the rst a purely physical one where weightsand balances and the forces of tension and release yieldedcontinually surprising ways of moving... and the second a sortof parallel kingdom of psychological suggestion where, becausewe were constantly in physical contact with each other, theresonance of touch ickered through all our interactions insideanother domain governed by emotion and implication.
HOW CAN YOU START A DANCE COMPANY WITHOUT ANY TRAINING IN DANCE?
In retrospect, the notion that a group of men who didn’t know what dance was could create choreographyof validity and merit was profoundly subversive. It proposes that training and technique and knowledgeof a eld and reverence for its traditions and history are all interesting accoutrements but ultimatelyunnecessary for the creation of art. And this certainly raises interesting questions about the nature of the naive, the primitive, and what is now referred to as Outsider Art. In fact, dancemaking with Piloboluscan easily be seen as the choreographic equivalent of chainsaw sculpture. (There’s also the curiousfact that although we humans have a record of our species’ artistic activity going back more than 20,000