"What's the philosophy behind this group" asked one baffled woman of another during the intermission of last night's Pilobolus concert. Her friend couldn't tell her, and I suspect that the Pilobolites themselves would be hard put for an answer.
The company is diffucult to pigionhole. Their movement style conjures up a whole battery of warring images: the Olympics, collegiate pranks, porno flicks, marine biology. One minute you're convinced that what you're watching is a particularly fluid form of gymnastics; the support systems are phenomenal, the somersaults almost liquid.
But then you notice the odd manner in which this small (seven members, two guest artist), mixed (six men, three women) band of folk relate to one another. You could call it intimate -- bodies adhere to bodies in the most familiar, suggestive ways possible. Spectators may squirm, but the dancers seem oblivious; they've chosen to deny their own humanity, to regard themselves merely as unusually flexible objects: gummy toys, soft sculptures, taffy.
If one can get past people and into things, Pilobolus' work is for the most part mind-boggling. "Molly's Not Dead" features a trio of goofy males attempting a pick-up in triplicate. Cemented stomach to back to stomach, they move as a clump, land like a suction cup. Sharing the stage are several bizarre duos; while one half of the pair stands erect, his partner will plant her feet on his thighs and uufurl like a ribbon or tapeworm.
"The Detail of "phoebe Strickland" poses a confusing anatomical question: How does one train the front of the body to behave like the back, and vice versa? The answer: Two spooky women, garbed in purple gowns and wearing masks on the backs of their heads, jut their derriers out to simulate pregancy, turn their shoulder blades into breasts, arch in order to contract, and stare in understandable bewilderment.
The remainder of the program consisted of an unworkable "work in progress," "Tendril," a lyrical duet on plant life, and "Parson Nips and Rude Beggars," an unsavory combo of sadomasochism, sex and reggae.