Science, dance come together with Pilobolus Oct. 12 at Lied Center

Released on 10/04/2011, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011

WHERE: Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th Street (Pilobolus; student performance in Lied's Johnny Carson Theater)

Lincoln, Neb., October 4th, 2011 —

            In many minds, the fields of arts and robotics are polar opposites but in October, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, the Lied Center for Performing Arts and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s departments of Dance and Computer Science and Engineering will show how the two subjects work in absolute harmony.

            Pilobolus Dance Theatre will hold a main stage performance at the Lied Center at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12, preceded by a free UNL student dance performance in the Lied’s Johnny Carson Theater at 6:30.

            Pilobolus Dance Theatre is an unconventional dance company that transcends common perceptions of modern dance and limitations of the human body. Pilobolus (pronounced pil-AH-bo-lus) began in 1971 as an outsider dance company and quickly became renowned the world over for its imaginative and athletic explorations of creative collaboration. Forty years later, it has evolved into a pioneering American cultural institution.

            While at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010, UNL assistant professor of computer science and engineering Carrick Detweiler collaborated with the Pilobolus Dance Theatre to develop a short performance with two flying robots and a dancer. The show, titled "Seraph," previewed in Boston in December 2010 and at The Joyce Theater in New York this past summer. "Seraph" will be one of the many that Pilobolus performs at the Lied on Oct. 12.

            As part of Pilobolus' visit to Nebraska, a cross-discipline workshop at UNL will bring together students and faculty from the performing arts, computer science and robotics. The dancers and directors of Pilobolus will teach about the capabilities and limitations of current aerial robot technology and what robotics experts on the project learned about the scientific methods behind music and dance.

            The result of the workshop will be a series of short performances with student dancers and robotics experts with aerial robots from the NIMBUS Lab, a lab at UNL where the latest research and technology in software and systems engineering, robotics and sensor networks are developed. The new works will be performed in the Johnny Carson Theater at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12. The student performances in the Johnny Carson Theater are free to the public. Entrance to Pilobolus' main stage performance requires a paid ticket.

            Tickets for Pilobolus' performance are available online at, by calling the Lied Center Ticket Office at 402-472-4747, or in person at the Lied box office, 301 N. 12th St. See Pilobolus in action on the Lied Center's YouTube Channel.

            Pilobolus is based in Washington Depot, Conn., and performs for stage and television audiences all over the world. Pilobolus works appear in the repertories of major dance companies -- the Joffrey, Feld, Ohio, Arizona and Aspen/Santa Fe Ballets in the United States, the Ballet National de Nancy et de Lorraine and the Ballet du Rhin in France, and Italy’s Verona Ballet. The company recently began a series of major creative collaborations through its International Collaborators Project, including new productions with famed writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak; the Israeli choreographic team Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak; American puppeteer Basil Twist; lead writer for the popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, Steven Banks; Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic artist Art Spiegelman; Grammy Award-winning family musician Dan Zanes; Grammy-winning band OK Go; and composer Gabriel Kahane and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The company has also been featured, with great popularity, on broadcast media: in 2004, CBS' "60 Minutes," the Academy Awards hosted by Ellen Degeneres, "Oprah," the "Late Show with Conan O’Brien" and 16 times in conjunction with football games on the NFL Network. Pilobolus has been seen by 120 million domestic viewers, broadcast in 200 countries, and performed live in 64 countries for more than 4 million people.

            The Lied Center for Performing Arts is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility. Opened in 1990, is Nebraska’s "Home for the Arts." The facility offers major regional, national and international events designed to attract, entertain and inspire a statewide audience. The Lied Center and its programs are made possible through the generous 2011-12 season support of Christina Hixson and the Lied Foundation Trust, Friends of Lied, Ameritas and Union Bank.

Writer: Shannon McClure