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Amazing Shadowland: Pilobolus at Folies Bergères

The German première of Shadowland, by the Pilobolus Dance Theatre, took place on March 14, 2012 at the Folies Bergères theatre in Paris. This Broadway show has everything – entertainment, poetry and art.  

Shadowland was created by the American company Pilobolus. It is based on an original music by David Poe and is a really innovative artistic concept. The synopsis is written bySteven Banks, the creator of the famous cartoon character Sponge Boband tells the story of a young woman in search of herself. The main character, MOLLY GAWLER,  is really charming and the story has all the ingredients of a good tale. It is very funny and dreamlike, and delights both children and adults.

The dancers have a really specific technique that is the signature of the Pilobolus group and was necessary to create this show. Hidden behind a screen, they play with the lights and their shadows; melt their bodies on a proper choreography to create animals, objects and fantasy characters. They use sets and costumes, created by Neil Patel and Liz Prince, to make it look like a movie or a cartoon. It is very difficult to describe but the result is stunning.

The parts of dance with the shadows alternate with parts of more conventional dance, which is necessary for the story and interesting to understand how the dancers develop the choreographic vocabulary. Unfortunately, the technique is really made to play with the shadows and when the dancers are not behind the screens the dance seems poorer and this makes the show less impressive. However, it has not a big influence on the global impression made by the show and the experience really worth it.

These clips are worth watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY1-9starcc (04.03 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAJLi7Lift0&feature=related  (13.46 minutes – From TED.com)

About Pilobolus

Pilobolus is a contemporary dance company whose origins are traced to a 1971 Dartmouth College dance class taught by Alison Becker Chase. The group first began performing in October 1971.

The founding artists of the original collective were Robby Barnett, Alison Chase, Martha Clarke, Lee Harris, Moses Pendleton, Jonathan Wolken.

The company has presented its work all around the world and, with Shadowland, has created a new concept which may inspire some contemporary dance companies. Some advertisements have already been made by the company for Hyundai, Ford, Google and other Fortune 500 companies.

The following slide show features its rendition of the English alphabet, and human pyramids.

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