Pilobolus dance company returns to Lake Placid

(Photo provided — Nadirah_Zakariya)

LAKE PLACID — With a knack for exhibiting the physical capabilities of the human body, it’s no wonder this dance group performed in the closing ceremonies of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts will host “Come to Your Senses,” from the creative dance theater Pilobolus at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The LPCA describes “Come to Your Senses” as a “multisensory experience, featuring live performances of Pilobolus works, transmedia digital creations and a special creative collaboration between Pilobolus and the audience.”

The dance group started in 1971 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Though the three students who created the group were athletic, none of them majored in theater or dance — Moses Pendleton studied English and cross-country skied, Jonathan Wolkena was a philosophy science major and a fencer and Steve Johnson was a pre-med student and pole vaulted. However, they all took a dance composition class together, and they named they’re first piece “Pilobolus.”

Since its formation, Pilobolus has performed at the Oscars, on Broadway and the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” They also once collaborated with the pop-rock band OK Go, who is known for making low-budget, yet creative music videos.

One of their more popular performances, which can be viewed on YouTube, is a routine called “Shadowland.” Dancers perform behind a screen, so you can only see their silhouettes. They come together and create interesting shadows such as the statue of Liberty, zoo animals and a giant head that spits out people.

The name Pilobolus comes from a fungus that grows on manure and propels its spores with extraordinary speed, accuracy and strength, and the dancers try to capture that natural phenomenon.

While most forms of dance require a certain degree of strength and precision, Pilobolus takes that to the next level. Many of the dances that involve lifting other people aren’t quick and explosive. Instead, the dancers move slowly and methodically. One dance has three men lifting another with only their toes and gently rocking him to sleep.

Executive Director of the LPCA James Lemons said he’s seen Pilobolus before and is impressed by the strength of the dancers.

“They use the human body and physicality to tell such amazing stories,” he said. “Our audiences are people who understand and enjoy that athleticism of dance, so I think they’re going to be taken on a really fantastic journey.”

If you go…

What: Pilobolus’s “Come to Your Senses”

Where: Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Drive

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

How much: $35 to $45, depending on the seat. $2 of LPCA members.

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