New shades of "Shadowland"

Pilobolus will work its wonders in Herzliya

Pilobolus will perform ‘Shadowland’ on November 13 to 18 at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.  (photo credit: KAI HEIMBERG)
Pilobolus will perform ‘Shadowland’ on November 13 to 18 at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.
(photo credit: KAI HEIMBERG)
Though it may not appear so to the outside eye, the virtue behind all of veteran American dance company Pilobolus’s work is simplicity. Their repertoire, which can be seen in a variety of facets – from stage to film to commercial outlets – plays with scale and volume.
However, at its heart there is always an element of humanity, of stripped down being.
This year, when Pilobolus Dance Theatre returns to Israel to present a new production under the title Shadowland, the time-tested elements will be in place: the human form, its possibilities alone and in a group, and the many ways that humor and a little twist on perspective can create wonders.
“We make work that is simple and surprising at the same time,” says executive producer Itamar Kubovy.
“The human qualities of a performance are always engaging.”
Pilobolus was founded as an experiment at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1971.
Three friends, hailing from different spheres such as medicine, cross-country skiing and literature, got together to try out a radical idea – a dance troupe. They named their first creation after a light-loving fungus, Pilobolus chrystallinus, which at the time was being researched by co-founder Jonathan Wolken’s father.
The company remained outside major cities from then on, operating out of rural environs north of New York City. In the four plus decades since that first foray into dance, Pilobolus has toured the world many times over, performed on the finest stages and has made cameo appearances at the Olympics, the Oscars and on Broadway.
From his first moments with Pilobolus, Kubovy easily fell in step with the company’s ethos of multitasking.
By 2004, when he took on his current position, Kubovy had already put a few notches on his belt. He had studied philosophy at Yale, co-directed the 2002 season of the TV series The West Wing, and ran theaters in Germany and Sweden. As Pilobolus’s first executive director, he has initiated several revolutionary projects such as the International Collaborators Project, which opens the doors of the company’s creative process to artists from diverse fields of interest.
With Kubovy in charge, Pilobolus has come to embrace an even more multifaceted approach to the possible expressions of dance as a form of both art and entertainment.
Encapsulating so many different avenues for performance is perhaps the main reason that Pilobolus has managed to keep audiences interested all these years.
The past season was no exception, Kubovy explains.
“Pilobolus is touring the world and making things both large and small.
We did work this year for the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and premiered a new work on a stage hanging off a mountain at Jacob’s Pillow, the venerable American center for dance.
I’m really excited to bring Shadowland to the opera house in Athens in December. That should be a lot of fun. And, of course, Tel Aviv is amazing,” he says.
With so many performances annually and a hefty touring schedule, Kubovy and his team make health a major priority.
“The hardest thing is how to do everything we do and keep everyone feeling healthy, inspired and not worn out,” he explains. “Self-care is extremely important in today’s world.”
Shadowland will be presented at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.
Although the company has performed Shadowland in Israel before, audiences can expect an entirely new show this time around.
While the play with light and shadow will remain a featured theme, Kubovy ensures that Pilobolus will come to Israel with a whole new set of tricks.
“This is a completely new production, using new shadow techniques mixed with the old ones.
New music. New story. It is like a comic book. A Tin Tin adventure! Shadowland 2!” he says.
Pilobolus will perform ‘Shadowland’ on November 13 to 18 at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. For more information, visit tour.