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In Dallas, 'Pilobolus in the Garden' blooms again at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Professional dancers perform under a large-scale outdoor sculpture
Stella Images
Photo courtesy of TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND
"Pilobolus in the Garden" is a serene, outdoor production at the Nasher Sculpture. The audience walks through the garden to see five sections of the performance. Dancers from the original show in 2021.

The celebrated dance company - known for its athletic and often biomorphic movement pieces - returns with an outdoor project commissioned by TITAS.

"Pilobolus in the Garden" is back. A specially commissioned, site-specific work by TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND in 2021 will be performed again at the Nasher Sculpture Center for eight shows May 23-26.

Pilobolus — the award-winning, innovative dance company — creates an immersive, “walking” performance in the Nasher’s garden, said Charles Santos, executive director of TITAS. The piece has five sections, and patrons will follow a path throughout the ADA-compliant outdoor space with its different sculptures.

“We have a long, long history with Pilobolus,” he said. “It's all about creativity and thinking outside the box. And these guys are the masters of that.”

"Pilobolus in the Garden" - at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, 2021

As America was coming out of the pandemic lockdown, he said, the Nasher garden was the inspiration for this original piece. The commissioned work started with the base movement from Pilobolus’ “Branches,” involving different aspects of nature.

Santos recalled how he and Renée Jaworski, now executive director of Pilobolus, sat in the garden for two hours creating the concept for the show.

They recruited dancers and writers from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The original prose and poetry generated by the students was narrated by Dallas actor Sally Vahle, he said, and they were incorporated into the “Branches” soundscape by noted percussionist and experimental composer David Van Tieghem, who in addition to his own, original pieces has worked with Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Nona Hendryx and David Byrne.

Two women in a crouching dance pose in a garden.
Megan Moss Free
Photo courtesy of TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND
Pilobolus dancers perform in "Branches," the basis for the Dallas project at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The production included 14 dance students from Booker T. and eight Pilobolus dancers. Many of the student dancers are new to the current performance, Santos said, but some seniors who were in the first production will return for this version. All students — writers and dancers — contributing to the productions have been or will receive an honorarium, he said.

Two years ago, the pandemic was lifting, but school classes were still held remotely. That was difficult for many students, including dancers, Santos said.

Working on the show “was a highlight of their year,” he said. “It was the one really great thing they got to do the entire year during that lockdown.”

A group of dancers, arms raised, dance in an outdoor setting.
Stella Images
Photo courtesy of TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND
Pilobolus in the Garden revives its 2021 show at the Nasher Sculpture Center, featuring student dancers and writers of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Now Santos is ready to entice audiences back to live performances.

"I'm so grateful for streaming because it really got us through the pandemic,” he said. “But it’s time to rejoin the world."

The show is a magical experience, Santos said: "The soundscape is really beautiful, very serene. It's completely unique. It was made for the space that was created here in Dallas.”

Pilobolus in the Garden
Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora St., Dallas, Texas 75201
May 23-26, 2023 — 6:30 & 8 p.m.

Senior in journalism at TCU, intern with KERA's Art&Seek