This collaborative dance company is acclaimed for its mix of humor, invention, and drama. Drawing inspiration from biology (how many dance troupes would name themselves after a fungus that thrives in cow dung?), Pilobolus has created a dance vocabulary all its own.

Why you should listen

Pilobolus began as an experiment among three guys and one puzzled professor in a Dartmouth dance class back in 1970. It was survival of the giddiest, as the three non-dancers goofed around with the material they'd been given -- themselves -- and got entangled in science-inspired poses (think: "soft-belly protoplasmic thing") and movements. From these humble, biological beginnings has emerged an innovative, unlikely and almost-uncategorizable dance company that combines athleticism, grace and humor with a profound sense of unity.

Their smooth, organic choreography -- featuring unusual partnering and lifts -- often blurs the lines between individual performers, creating a sense of dance-troupe-as-organism. Still evolving after 35 years, Pilobolus has built up a repertoire of more than 85 works and received numerous awards, including the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement in choreography. Their hilarious appearance at the 2007 Oscars -- where they built witty silhouettes to punctuate the ceremony -- brought the troupe further into the public eye.

Their latest work is called Shadowland.

What others say

“Your beliefs in the nature of strength, endurance and gravity will not hold. In fact, they will be defied. And every time you think, 'Whoa, how the hell did they do that?' they will take it further.” — Dance Insider

Pilobolus’ TED talk

More news and ideas from Pilobolus

Archive: Pilobolus’ astonishing dance of two bodies on

August 15, 2008

Here’s the final installment in our exploration of the TEDTalks archives. Look for brand-new TEDTalks starting Monday, August 18. Thanks for sending us your own archive favorites — and please continue, by writing to or joining the conversation on Two dancers from Pilobolus perform the jaw-dropping duet “Symbiosis.” Does it trace the birth […]

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Pilobolus on

February 20, 2007

Dancers from Pilobolus perform the sensuous duet “Symbiosis.” Does it trace the birth of a relationship? Or the co-evolution of simple, symbiotic species? That’s for you to decide. Get TED delivered:Subscribe to the TEDTalks video podcast via RSS >>Subscribe to the iTunes video podcastSubscribe to the iTunes audio podcastGet updates via Twitter >>Join our Facebook […]

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