PILOBOLUS: THE EARLY YEARS
Tim Matson’s award winning archival black and white photographs of the original Pilobolus Dance Theatre in performance and rehearsal now at Pine Street Art works. These photos were first seen in a special exhibit at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in 2007. The PSAW exhibit coincides with a one night performance of Pilobolus at the Flynn Theater on April 11.
Matson was one of the earliest photographers to capture the original Pilobolus dancers as they began their career as a barnstorming male quartet, and soon evolved into the world famous coed group that has virtually reinvented the dynamics of modern dance. (They have performed at the Olympics, the Academy Awards, the Oprah show, and continue to tour around the world with two companies of young dancers.)
Matson is both a photographer and an award-winning writer, notably of the bestselling Earth Ponds series of books and videos. He currently lives in Strafford, Vermont. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968, Matson spent time in Vermont, where he met Moses Pendleton, one of the founding members of Pilobolus. Following some time in New York working in publishing, Matson moved to Vermont just as Pilobolus was beginning to choreograph and perform while undergraduate students at Dartmouth. Living nearby in Strafford, Vermont, he was invited to photograph the young company. In a grassroots spirit, he took publicity photographs for the company in exchange for a day of the dance group’s labor in Matson’s garden.
Matson photographed the company throughout its formative years in the 1970s. His photos show the dramatic evolution of the unique Pilobolus choreography in performance, rehearsal, film sessions, and behind-the-scenes candids. He traveled with them on performance tours. His Pilobolus photos appeared in publicity stills, posters, and newspaper and magazine articles around the world. In 1978 Random House published Matson's collection of Pilobolus photos in an oversize trade paperback that won two awards from the American Institute for Graphic Arts.
Matson’s photographs at The Pine Street Art Works document the early performances and rehearsals that would come to define the Pilobolus style. His detailed shot from Ciona focuses all of the viewer’s attention on one of the most impressive features of Pilobolus’s dances—the entwined bodies. Another Ciona photograph portrays both the dancers’ aesthetic beauty and their immense strength and athleticism. A series of photographs of the
group’s dance Untitled shows the company’s earliest long form narrative featuring many of its signature elements: surrealism, humor, physical power, and nudity.