For Pilobolus, Collaboration Is the Name of the Game
Pilobolus in Skyscrapers
It’s safe to say that when you hear about Pilobolus Dance Theater, one word will come up often: collaboration. Yes, dance is by definition a collaborative art, but the creative minds behind Pilobolus take this idea to a whole new level. By integrating the art of movement with tons of other disciplines and organizations, they create results that push past what you’d normally think of as dance to something much, much bigger. How do I know this? Last week, I saw Pilobolus live at the Joyce Theater in NYC (the company performs there through August 4), and I was blown away by the results of their unique teamwork.
Much of the company’s repertoire revolves around challenging partnering. The comedic piece Molly’s Not Dead, for instance, has company members in shiny red unitards carrying each other upside down in a rather, um, compromising position. (Let’s just say there’s a fair amount of chin-butt contact.) But this totally unexpected configuration makes for hilarious choreographic possibilities, as the tomato-like pairs of dancers roll, bounce and squat to the jaunty strains of folk music.
But Pilobolus’s spirit of collaboration doesn’t just make itself known onstage—it starts in the rehearsal room and sometimes even before then. Take for example Pilobolus’s International Collaborators Project. The ICP’s aim is to bring together artists from all kinds of creative backgrounds to make daring and entertaining new work. And when they say all kinds of artists, they really mean it—past participants in the program include alt-rock band OK Go, children’s book author Maurice Sendak and even the MIT Distributed Robotics Laboratory! In fact, another piece on Pilobolus’s program at the Joyce, Skyscrapers, started its life as a music video for OK Go. It features ballroom-esque steps and lightning-fast costume changes, all in front of a constantly changing video backdrop. It was like a dance metaphor for modern life in the big city!
The company is constantly reaching out into the wider world of pop culture, exposing new audiences to the utter amazingness of dance. Pilobolus even appeared in an Emmy-nominated teaser promoting Sunday Night Football on the NFL Network. Football and dance, together at last?! Only in Pilobolus’s crazily creative world.
Catch a sneak peek at the company’s ultra-cool repertory at The Joyce—brought to you by the power of collaboration—in this video!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
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I started dance classes at a young age. By the time I was 3, I was training at The Dance Club, and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventions as a mini, and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so much variety—I was in awe.
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My mom was a dancer growing up, and she went on to become a dance teacher, so I've really grown up in the studio. I started classes when I was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.