Dance/Movement as a Way of Knowing

August 27, 2008


From Ted.comThis collaborative dance company is acclaimed for its mix of humor, invention, and drama. Drawing inspiration from biology (how many dance troupes would name themselves after a fungus that thrives in cow dung?), Pilobolus has created a dance vocabulary all its own.

Two Pilobolus dancers perform "Symbiosis." Does it trace the birth of a relationship? Or the co-evolution of symbiotic species? Music: "God Music," George Crumb; "Fratres," Arvo Part; "Morango…Almost a Tango," Thomas Oboe Lee. Their smooth, organic choreography — featuring unusual partnering and lifts — often blurs the lines between individual performers, creating a sense of dance-troupe-as-organism.

From me: I found this performance by Pilobolus to be astonishing in the strength and grace of the performers and beautifully presented in its minimal way. It seems to communicate so much without words and with a minimum of familiar moves. Perhaps this is testament to the ability of knowing through the body- of movement, without words. (See previous post, "Role of Imagination") In the paragraph above, the writers at ask what it might mean- a birth of a relationship or the co-evolution of a symbiotic species- but I would argue that it is unnecessary to find literal meaning in this performance. Indeed, to do so might diminish the expectation or the experience. As Isadora Duncan, the famous American dancer who is considered to be the mother of modern dance, is quoted as answering when asked what a dance performance meant, "If I could say it, I wouldn't have to dance it".

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