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Grammy-nominated Pilobolus gets ready for the big night [Video]

February 10, 2012 |  2:17 pm

As the leadership team of Pilobolus Dance Theater readies itself to fly to Los Angeles for Sunday’s Grammy Awards -– the group is nominated for best short form music video for “All Is Not Lost” –- the dance troupe’s co-executive director Lily Binns is feeling “really, really nervous” (“we’re up against Adele!”) and quite celebratory about the way the troupe is expanding its artistic reach.

This is not the company’s first foray into music videos. Rather incongruously, Pilobolus dancers appeared as background elements in Marilyn Manson’s 1999 “The Beautiful People” video.

But this Grammy nod, shared with OK Go’s frontman Damian Kulash Jr. and his videographer/choreographer sister Trish Sie, was based on “truly a full collaboration for us,” Binns says. “We share a similiar sensibility with OK Go and Trish Sie,” she explains. “We all like making the impossible look possible.”

For “All Is Not Lost,” Pilobolus and OK Go set up shop for five days in a small town hall near the dance troupe’s Connecticut base (“the Woodbury Town Hall didn’t know what hit it,” she says) and shot the dancers and musicians from beneath a large glass platform atop which they undertake vintage Pilobolus contortions and organize their bare standing feet to spell out Roman letters and Japanese Katakana syllabary.

The video unrolls with what appear to be duplicated windows stitched together to make fabulous kaleidoscopic effects. In fact they are 12 distinct films, shot individually and  graphed out in advance to sit beside one another on a screen.

Binns says that the hair-splitting, labor-intensive foray was based on “a tacit agreement [between the two groups] that those kinds of constraints generate the best kind of creative results.”  You can watch it below. A bells-and-whistles version of the full unveiling and depth of the 12-film creation can be seen via HTML5 at OK’s “All Is Not Lost” page -- where it’s also possible to send cool, though slow-loading, email messages using Pilobolus’ feet-drawn alphabet.

Binns expects that the band and the dancers will collaborate again (“We felt this was a beginning of something likely to be larger”) and they did perform a surprise live stage version of “All Is Not Lost” at New York’s Joyce Theater in July 2011 with Kulash and the band. 

Touring internationally this year, Pilobolus’ trip will include a stop at the Irvine Barclay Theatre (May 17-18). And Binns just revealed plans for the dancers to accompany the zany proto-science-philosophers from WNYC’s RadioLab radio show, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, on a U.S. tour called “RadioLab: In the Dark.” Hosted by Demitri Martin, and featuring Pilobolus’ “visual explanations” of scientific principles, the tour is scheduled to land at UCLA’s Royce Hall on May 9 and 10 (tickets not yet on sale). While you wait, you can check out the 3-D version of the “All Is Not Lost” video on the Nintendo DS platform.


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-- Jean Lenihan

Photo: Pilobolus. Credit: Photo by Nadirah Zakariya.