Students dance with ‘the best’

Residency program features Pilobolus Dance Company

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February 15, 2011

By Jill Yanish '13

Pilobolus Master Class
Pilobolus dancer Winston Dynamite Brown works with two students.

Not many students can say that they have danced with professional dancers, but 13 CSB and SJU students can accurately make that claim. 

Pilobolus Dance Theatre, a nonprofit, Connecticut-based dance company, worked with CSB/SJU Dance Professor Leigh Dillard's dance studies class Friday, Feb. 11. Pilobolus is a well-known dance company that has appeared in television commercials for companies such as Mobil, Toyota, Bloomingdale's and General Motors.  The company has also choreographed and performed with Marilyn Manson in a music video.

Deborah Lehman, director of community outreach for Fine Arts Programming, organized Pilobolus's residency for the dance class.

"Pilobolus is extremely well known.  They're very exciting and engaging.  They're the type of dance company that can really knock down barriers that might prohibit people from coming into dance," Deborah said.

Leigh's dance studies class has an emphasis on technique, improv, choreography and performance.  Pilobolus connected the class's emphasis with their own specialty of creative play and improv to create a focus on creativity, collaboration and communication for the residency.

The Pilobolus dancers asked students to share their thoughts and opinions after an activity and to provide honest and constructive feedback to other students' performances.  Students worked closely with each other to improve communication and collaboration skills. They also learned the importance of dancing with commitment and confidence. 

The students not only received a dance lesson, but inspiration and life lessons about the significance of trust and communication as well.

CSB senior Andrea Schiebe described Pilobolus as being very helpful in providing suggestions to help explore her capabilities and trust in other people.

"I learned to be confident and be aware and sense my movements and movements of others around me," Andrea said.

Winston Dynamite Brown, Pilobolus dancer and main instructor, saw the students' confidence levels blossom as the lesson progressed.  They appeared timid and nervous in the beginning, not knowing what to expect from the lesson with professional dancers.  As the Pilobolus dancers pumped energy and advice into the students, they opened up and their confidence illuminated the dance studio. 

"To see that shift of confidence is great. That's how we know we were successful and did our job," Winston said.

Winston described that the lessons they teach in classes are the basic elements of everyday community life.   

"The great thing about dance is that its lessons can be utilized in life," Winston said. 

The students believe that it was a great opportunity to have Pilobolus in their classroom.

"It was neat because they have a name, a label, a reputation.  They came to class and allowed us to explore ourselves.  They just didn't present themselves; they taught us," Andrea said.

Deborah considers the time that CSB and SJU students spent with Pilobolus very unique and special.

"It is really exciting to bring a company of this caliber with such true ability to educate upcoming dancers and educate people in the process of creativity," Deborah said.