In the early 1970s, Frank Zappa was performing at Dartmouth College, and a group of students from a dance class opened the concert with a weird performance piece called "Pilobolus," after a fungus that grows in cow manure. Zappa loved the piece and invited the group, which didn't
even have a name yet, to go on tour with him.
"We said, "What? We can't do that, we have midterms coming up,' " recalled Pilobolus co-founder Moses Pendleton.
The people from Pilobolus obviously had no intention of making their careers as dancers, but they went on to change the face of American modern dance through their unusual approach to movement, narrative and illusion.
They’ll be at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota at 8 p.m. tonight, (Wednesday, Feb. 12).
They’ve lasted much longer than most dance companies, and in recent years they've shown signs of being past their creative prime. (Pendleton left the company to found the equally innovative Momix and Pilobolus hasn’t been as wonderfully weird since.) And because they’ve been so influential, the rest of the dance world has caught up with them and Pilobolus no longer seem so revolutionary.
But their concerts are still full of beauty and intellect, and anyone who cares about dance still wants to see them anytime they come through town.