Christian Long

Pilobolus: Perform “Symbiosis”

In TED Talks on April 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Extra credit reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Pilobolus:  Perform “Symbiosis”

In movement that recalls images of Neanderthals, the Pilobolus duet expresses a story of love, rejection, and perhaps even the evolution of human actions and emotions.

In a series of flashes of white light that could mark the beginning of humanity, you get a glimpse of a female dancer almost surging to existence while a male’s pale, luminescent back is curled over his knees. After the initial explosive lighting, dim blue illumination takes its place. Coupled with the near-nakedness of the dancers, the scene suggests simpler, darker times.

The first movement is the snaking hand of the male which, upon contact with the female, causes her entire body to mimic its initial movements. She then wiggles her way into his grasp in a manner reminiscent of a child wiggling its way into its mother’s arms.

Slowly, perched on her partner’s back, the woman appears to gain strength and reaches an upright position, only to lose her strength and again fall onto the male. The next minute is an excellent string of movement in which the two dancers look as though they are a single organism; this very movement is what the Pilobolus company is famous for.

At the end of the second minute, the female is thrown off of the male, whose spinal curvature has yet to slacken. In fact, it is in the first half of minute three that the male finally is uncoiled with persuasion from the female. The female then tries to explore the male, only to find that he has gone. Perhaps her eyes have not yet adjusted to the dim light of the world.

In nearly a rejection, the male curls up just as the female attempts to touch his face. Then, finally, the male awakens and stands. After searching for her lost male, the female finds him and offers a brush of her cheek as a greeting. She then tries to embrace him only to be lead slowly back to the floor. She rolls away, perhaps hurt, when the male stops her with his foot.

He examines her, intrigued but also weary, so he again frees himself from her hold. When he realizes that was a mistake, he tries to beckon her back, only to find that she, this time, is truly hurt. He lifts her up, and in a particularly beautiful three minutes, they get to know each other, play together, and perhaps even fall in love.

The final quarter of the dance showcases lifts that appear effortless, and as the music winds down it appears as though the two no longer know each other, or at least do not know each other as they believed they had. The female returns to the original embrace, and slowly the male shrinks from her grasp back into his initial curved position.

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