Pilobolus pushes boundaries of human forms

Fifty chairs stood neatly lined in the back of the ’62 Center Dance Studio on Friday night, set up for an intimate session with two members of the dance group Pilobolus. As soon as everyone had settled into their seats and introductions had been made, dancer and rehearsal director Rene Jaworski and dancer Mark Fucik took their places quietly. The performance that followed defined the essence of Pilobolus – a group that pushes the concepts of form and movement so far that they not only transcend human form but transform into pure shapes, forms of nature, ideas and emotions.

Pilobolus opened with “Symbiosis,” a dance that began with Jaworski and Fucik on the ground beside each other. The music started and we heard a large roll of thunder, which translated as a tremble traveling straight from Jaworski’s head through her quivering fingers and electric toes. From the first moment to the end of the piece, Jaworski and Fucik continued this intricacy of movement, with each part of their bodies at attention and discharging energy. Even their faces harbored a great intensity throughout, their expressions sometimes bewildered, sometimes enchanted and sometimes timid, but always alive.

“Symbiosis” tells the story of two creatures intricately connected from start to finish. The audience entered another world as they watched the two discover each other, become each other, learn from each other and create unity. Throughout the dance, Jaworski and Fucik executed balances so incredible they appeared surreal. At one point, the dancers formed a lowercase T, with Jaworski as the cross. However, this was no static pose; Jaworski rolled up Fucik as seamlessly as if the cross of the T was simply floating up to the top, but she did not end there. She continued to roll to the tip of Fucik’s head, where he raised her into a V. The effortlessness and the grace with which they executed each movement seemed inhuman, impossible even. They continued creating beautiful forms throughout the piece, at another point resembling horizontal branches of a delicate tree, swaying slightly with the breeze. These descriptions may seem absurd and exaggerated, but that is the point, for Pilobolus expresses what we may think unachievable in human form.
As a whole, Jaworski and Fucik achieved such connection throughout the piece that sometimes it was difficult to decipher who was doing what. Was it her leg or his that carried them both, was it the sway of her head that made his body react in an arch? The two were so moldable that they danced in one amoebic form.

The piece ended with Jaworski sitting on Fucik’s back as he rolled and moved around the floor, making Jaworski seem like she was on a gently rocking boat. After they had struck their final pose, silence lingered in the air. The audience then began to clap wholeheartedly as the dancers stood up and smiled, but the show wasn’t over. They threw on a few sweats and came back to the center of the room to discuss Pilobolus, how it started and what it is.

Fucik and Jaworski began by surprising everyone with the fact that four male Dartmouth students, who had no previous dance experience, started Pilobolus in 1971. Fucik said he had begun in the same situation with “probably 12 ballet classes under [his] belt.” The pair emphasized that dance technique is not what makes Pilobolus; it is a group that works with movement – any kind of movement. They showed a string of dances by Pilobolus on a screen, which demonstrated their evolution as artists and as a company. They told the story of Pilobolus straight from the beginning, as well as an explanation of the dances they performed, how they were inspired and who worked on them.

They then spoke about choreographing their dances mainly from improvisation sessions, which they later refine. To let participants in behind the scenes, Jaworski and Fucik did about five minutes of their own improvisation, where they demonstrated their creativity and their humor at work.

The whole performance was an incredible success, to say the least. In that one simple dance studio, the small audience had the privilege to experience a most stunning show of movement and of art, one that surely left a lasting impression on all in attendance.