Pilobolus Dance Theater
Annenberg Center, Philadelphia
Philly dance fans continue their love affair with that amorphous troupe Pilobolus Dance Theater. Their appearance at the Annenberg Center’s Dance Celebration series last week was part of a season long dedication to Pilobolus co-founder Jonathan Wolken, who died in 2010. The company was performing several new works including Hapless Hooligan and Redline, with an extra show added to accommodate demand.
At the performance Saturday afternoon, dancer Jordan Kriston landed wrong on one of the intricate vaults and sustained a concussion. She finished the section, but immediately had to be taken to the hospital. No one could replace her in the new pieces, but Renee Jaworski, associate artistic director who danced with the company for many years, steps in, or vaulted in, for a quickly arranged program of repertory favorites. among the highlights-
Gnomen (1997) is a morphing quartet for men, who roll onto stage interlocked into a body ball. Each dancer is separated and pounded into precarious shapes and positions by the three others. One man is held upside down (recalls an inverted cross on the gymnastics rings), or he is upended and drilled into the floor. Three dancers alternate floating the fourth in lifts that look like slow moving high dives. One man is folded up like a pretzel and must scuttle, seemingly headless, across the floor. One man vaults on another man’s shoulder and it looks like a bi-peded headed creature. After these tricks the group retreats into ritualized meditations. The balance tricks, contortions and vaults all have high degree of difficulty. Just as astounding the hypnotic serenity at the center of their clockwork precision.