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Pilobolus dances to Olympic beat

Company to create a new work for 2002 Olympiad

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Raymond T. Grant, director of the 2002 Cultural Olympiad, has been thinking about the Pilobolus Dance Theatre for quite awhile.

"I have known the company for about 13 or 14 years now," Grant said. "And when I was interviewing for the Cultural Olympiad director job, I thought about what the dance company could do if it was part of the celebrations. I thought it would be a treat to have the company be a part of the event."

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee has officially announced that the Pilobolus Dance Theatre has been commissioned to create a new dance work for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The performance, including the new work, will be be Feb. 16, 2002, in the Capitol Theatre.

"We have been in discussion with the dance company for about 18 months," Grant explained. "We agreed the work will combine athleticism and humor. And it will be very physical, which is one of the attributes of the company."

"Pilobolus Dance Theatre has always been inspired by the concentration and grace of Olympic athletes," said co-artistic director Michael Tracy in a news release. "For the 2002 Cultural Olympiad, we plan to create a new work with a musical score to be announced that will combine athletic prowess with wit and theatrical imagery, inspired by the Olympic spirit."

Grant said not only would the work be a highlight of the event, but it will also redefine the Olympic legacy as it pertains to Salt Lake City. "The dance company performs all over the world," Grant said. "And that would allow us to put Salt Lake City in the spotlight anywhere the company would perform the work."

However, there is a concern surrounding the dance company — its experimental aspect. Although the company is famous for presenting visually abstract and critically acclaimed works, some of those presentations contain full, on-stage nudity.

"We have discussed with Pilobolus the creation of a work that will be both inspiring and physical," Grant said. "What will be contained in the work is yet to be seen. However, the artistic directors — Michael Tracy, Jonathan Wolken, Alison Becker Chase and Robby Barnett — are aware the Olympics is a family experience."

The Pilobolus Dance Theatre was formed in 1971 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., where it is still based. In addition to the four artistic directors, the company features six dancers and a broad repertory of works.

The last time the company performed in Salt Lake City was in August 1992.

"We are honored that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee has commissioned us to create this work," Tracy said in his statement. "And we look forward to presenting it in Utah at the Olympic Winter Games as well as touring the work internationally."

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com