Pilobolus “moves in” to New Haven

Photo by Robert Whitman

Photo by Robert Whitman


Amanda May

For the 17th year, the esteemed dance company Pilobolus’ education arm will be going into area schools for in-school and after-school programs. Teaching trust, confidence, teamwork, and non-verbal communication (among many other life skills), the MOVIN’ program has been conducted in New Haven as a partnership with the Shubert Theatre since 1997.

Pilobolus has made its name though its unique performances mixing dance, sculpture, mime, humor, and pure athleticism. Based in Connecticut since its beginnings in 1971, the company is now divided into the Pilobolus Dance Theatre and the Pilobolus Institute.

Each year, as part of the Pilobolus Institute, MOVIN’ has a fall and spring semester. Open to all middle and high schools, workshops are given in 20 different schools. Three to five one-period classes are given throughout the semester at each school.

The Shubert and Pilobolus also work with the board of education to identify four “at risk” schools per semester in which to conduct intensive after-school programs. Considered the cornerstone of MOVIN’, this innovative after-school program works specifically with “at-risk” middle-school students who are determined to be “at-risk of failure in the classroom” by school officials. This season’s schools include the Truman School, Celentano Museum Academy, Clemente Leadership Academy, and Wexler-Grant School.

Students at New Haven's Truman School participate in Pilobolus' MOVIN' program. Photo by Peter Casolino.

Students at New Haven’s Truman School participate in Pilobolus’ MOVIN’ program. Photo by Peter Casolino.

In these programs, 15 all-boy or all-girl groups meet after school each day for a month. Participants build life skills through movement with the Pilobolus instructors. They are taught the Pilobolus principle, to perform as a collaborative, cooperative organism, and to trust and rely on each other.

“They are taught that you have to trust, to become one,” explained Anthony Lupinacci, the Shubert Theater’s director of marketing and community relations. “They are taught that they can be more effective if they work together. And it works! I have seen it. They take it very seriously and really seem to get a lot out of it.”

At the end of the after-school program, the students perform for their teachers, parents, and friends. The choreography is completely their own. Afterward, the group talks to the audience about their experience and what they’ve learned. Participants are also invited to attend the Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s performance at the Shubert.

To see Pilobolus yourself (highly recommended), head to the Shubert Theater on Friday, May 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at shubert.com.

A specially-priced additional performance for school groups will take place on Friday, May 17, at 10:15 a.m. If you’re a teacher and would like more information about bringing your students, call (203) 562-5666. If you have questions about your school participating in the in-school program, call the Shubert Theater at (203) 624-1825.

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