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Pilobolus Celebrates 50 Years With Virtual Trip Down Memory Lane

Nearly 50 years ago, a group of Dartmouth College students met in a dance class. That chance encounter would later evolve into the world-renowned, Connecticut-based modern dance troupe Pilobolus.

UConn’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts will look back at the company’s beginnings tonight in a live, virtual event. Pilobolus’ co-artistic directors will facilitate the discussion.

“We will get into it on the presentation that we’re doing for UConn, and go beyond the sound bite that you normally hear, which is ‘there were four jocks and they made a dance company.’ The truth is so much richer,” said Matt Kent, co-artistic director of Pilobolus. “We’ve got some really cool videos that have been rarely seen, including the original guys, the yet unnamed dance company performing the dance piece Pilobolus.”

Since its humble start in 1971, the company has grown, and so has its reputation. The ensemble has performed on Broadway, at the Olympic Games, as well as movies and television. In 2015, the Dance Heritage Coalition named Pilobolus one of its “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.”

Kent joined Pilobolus as a dancer in 1996. He said that over the years the company has gone through plenty of changes, but the core principles of the ensemble have remained the same.

“Irreverence, playfulness, not taking ourselves too seriously, living in nature with our friends and making art is really the thing.”

Credit Brigid Pierce / Pilobolus
"Untitled," performed by members of Pilobolus.

Kent said the new year will bring more golden anniversary festivities, which may include a tour, if it’s safe to do so.

Tickets to tonight’s livestreamed event, hosted by UConn’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, are available at jorgensen.uconn.edu.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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