A Moment with Pilobolus

by Joe Cortez, Web & Social Media Coordinator

When you see Pilobolus on our website, you may immediately think that it is nothing more than modern dance. What you probably don’t know about them, however, is that Pilobolus is more than dance. For instance, did you know that Pilobolus has produced short films for the past two seasons of NFL broadcasts? Or that they have performed in more than 64 countries around the world, including a performance for the Queen of England? And in addition, Pilobolus has made numerous television appearances, including CBS’ 60 Minutes, The Late Show with Conan O’Brien, Oprah, and have won an Emmy for their work in television? Sure, modern dance may be one aspect of Pilobolus’ work – but they span so much more than just what you’ll see at the Palace Theatre on Thursday night.

This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with some of the dancers of Pilobolus, and ask them about their motivations. Read from them how they got started, and their favorite performance pieces that you will see here in Columbus!

Q: When and why did you begin dancing?

Nile Russel, dancer: I began dancing when I was about 5 yrs old.  My mom put me into tap lessons after school with Ms. Jackie Flynn.  I went every day after school. I loved being able to move, feel rhythms, and bounce my body against the music, but it sucked being the only guy in class.  It wasn’t until high school and, more so, in college that dance became my passion, however, I think tap and Ms. Flynn have influenced my  approach to dance.

Erika Jimbo, dancer: I began dancing with my sister when I was about 5 years old.  My mother enrolled us both in a ballet program because she always wanted to learn when she was younger, but was never given the chance.  She thought it would be fun for us.

Chris Whitney, dancer: I started my formal dance training the summer following my senior year of high school.  Since the age of 11 I had been involved in theatre productions, musicals, Shakespeare, et cetera.  It was during a high school production in Cleveland that I met Bill Wade, then Director/Founder of the Y.A.R.D. (Youth At Risk Dancing) at Cleveland School for the Arts.  I spent the first six weeks of my summer taking classes at a summer intensive run by Mr. Wade and from then on was hooked.

Matt Del Rosario, dancer: It all started when I was attending the University of Hawaii.  I began as an inspired education major, but before long I started skipping class to surf.  My “Oh, I’ll go tomorrow” attitude led to me failing multiple classes.  So, I decided to take a dance class to boost my GPA.  I signed up for beginning ballet with Paul Maley, who happened to be an alumnus of North Carolina School of the Arts.  It was the hardest thing in the world, but I really enjoyed it and didn’t give up.  Paul got me in contact with NCSA and that year the dean of NCSA’s dance department flew to Hawaii to audition me at home.  After the audition she invited me to come to the school, and that’s how I got started.

Q: What’s your favorite piece to perform?

Annika Sheaff, dancer: “Rushes”, from 2007, is a piece that I was lucky enough to help create.  We collaborated on it with the Israeli choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack, who I think are genius artists.  I was able to help create a world, and a  character within that world, that over the past three years I have become attached to.  I learn more and more about the character each time I perform the dance.  It is amazing to feel that even though I have performed Rushes hundreds of times, every performance is still new for me, and I can always dig deeper into it.

Matt Del Rosario: My favorite piece to perform would have to be “Gnomen.”  There is a sense of brotherhood and compassion that I really respect about this piece.

Our thanks goes to the dancers of Pilobolus for taking the time to talk to me about their experiences!

Its not too late to get tickets to see Pilobolus in concert! Use the password “DANCER” and you can get 50% off tickets! To order tickets, call 614-469-0939, visit the CAPA Ticket Office at the Ohio Theatre or the Palace Theatre Ticket Office 2 hours before the show begins, or click here to order from Ticketmaster!

And for all of our Facebook fans: we’ve got a special photo gallery up on Facebook right now! Click here to check it out!

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