A Story of Dance and Life

Robert Pranzatelli

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The dynamic history of the innovative, beloved, and critically acclaimed dance theatre company, with revelatory behind-the-scenes details of its creators and significant works  
“Pranzatelli captures the changes the troupe has undergone in the 50 years between its beginning as a countercultural phenomenon and its current state as an established part of dance history. . . . He shows us how dances come together. His keen analysis of such works as ‘Day Two’ and ‘Gnomen’ helps us see more deeply into their beauty, fostering a new appreciation for this pathbreaking company.”—Wall Street Journal
“An important contribution to modern American dance history that will resonate with Pilobolus’ many fans and engender new ones.”—Booklist
“Pranzatelli gives behind-the-scenes insight into both the art-making process and the often-grueling business of running a dance company. The book includes photographs, some never before published, that give readers a taste of Pilobolus’s hallmark bodily wizardry. . . . Pranzatelli’s vivid descriptions of the group’s canonical pieces will have readers running to find videos to see the magic for themselves.”—Library Journal
“Pranzatelli navigates us through the insouciance and absurdity of Pilobolus’ past, which turns out to be very much about its future—delving into the possibilities of dance theatre.”—Arts Fuse
“A masterful job of capturing the history. . . . The book is filled with gorgeous descriptions of [Pilobolus] routines and what they mean. . . . The physicality, the humor, and the fluidity all come to life on the page. . . . Pilobolus is a magical book, beautifully written. . . . An absolute marvel. . . . Fantastic.”—Gil Roth, Virtual Memories Show (podcast)
“Sometimes when you explain how a magic trick works, it kills the amazement. This book proves the opposite. When Pranzatelli takes you backstage, he leads you Dante-like through the Inferno/mystery of Pilobolus. And you will—as I do—love, love, love these people who fearlessly flex their hearts with their muscles, and fill their stage with beauty, humor, sex, and joy.”—Teller (of Penn & Teller)  
“What a joyful, absorbing chronicle of creativity. With skillful prose and miles of heart, Pranzatelli captures the wit, sensuality, and daring of Pilobolus, the group that blew up dance theatre and keeps making discoveries after more than 50 years.”—Sarah L. Kaufman, Pulitzer Prize–winning dance critic, author of The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life  
“A highly readable, insightful journey into the history, creative process, and fascinating personalities of America’s most inventive dance/theatre company.”—Steven Banks, playwright, actor, and New York Times–bestselling writer  
“Pranzatelli lovingly captures the enchanted, ingenious world of Pilobolus: the open-hearted spirit of discovery; the fearless commitment to exploration; the irreverent, unquenchable creativity of the artists who have shaped and reshaped this remarkable project over the decades.”—Trish Sie, filmmaker, Sitting in Bars with Cake  
“A thorough, insightful, expressive, and very readable account of a singular dance troupe. While chronicling Pilobolus’s journey through the decades, and astutely spotlighting relevant people, dynamics, and context, this book gives a sense of the troupe’s vitality, in part through eloquent description and analysis of specific dance works and overall aesthetic.”—Celia Wren, theatre and dance writer  
“Pranzatelli has written the saga of a creative ‘chosen family,’ and it is both appealing and a real page-turner.”—Elizabeth Zimmer, coeditor of Envisioning Dance on Film and Video
The ingeniously innovative and enduringly popular American dance theatre company Pilobolus has helped redefine, remix, and rejuvenate the essence of dance with its eclectic sensibility and daring athleticism. Now, for the first time, the story of Pilobolus, from its counterculture origins through its pop-culture triumphs and contemporary global acclaim, is revealed in a book that will entrance longtime admirers and newcomers alike.
Written with unprecedented access to the company—with insights from unpublished archival materials and interviews with its founders, dancers, and current artistic directors—and featuring both classic and never-before-seen photos, Pilobolus offers previously untold details about the group’s history and the creation of its most significant works. Robert Pranzatelli describes the company's genesis in a Dartmouth dance class in 1971 and how Pilobolus revolutionized dance with its blend of sensuality, physical achievement, and visual wit. In these pages, the troupe performs on Broadway, travels the world, and by the late 1980s secures a place in dance history, while its growth is marked by periods of internal conflict, challenges, and change.
As Pilobolus continues to morph, invent, and thrive with the arrival of new artists and collaborators, its story encompasses love, loss, grief, and rebirth, as well as insights into the secrets of the creative process—how performers and choreographers think and work. More than a history, Pilobolus is a narrative of life and art, and the vitality that infuses and inspires both when they align and inhabit each other.  
Robert Pranzatelli is the author of a number of essays published by the Paris Review and other literary journals, and a longtime staff member of Yale University Press.
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