Heritage dancers get into a new groove

They participate in workshop with Pilobolus Dance Theatre pros

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Twenty young dancers got to stretch Wednesday in ways that had nothing to do with loosening the hamstrings.

The dancers from Heritage High School were invited to a special workshop offered by the Pilobolus Dance Theatre.

Two dancers from the internationally known contemporary dance troupe conducted the session before their performance Wednesday night at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Kimberleigh Anderson, who directs the dance program at Heritage High School, called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for dance students.”

“The teachers from Pilobolus helped them stretch themselves, with different ways to use their bodies,” Anderson said.

“It definitely was beyond what I’m normally used to doing,” said senior Brittany Norman. “It was a lot of fun. I loved it.”

“We were out of our comfort zones,” sophomore Emily Maxfield said.

“Most of the moves were ‘improv,’ so you didn’t get a lot of time to think,” Alexis Long said.

“The concept of space and what you’re doing in that space stuck with me the most,” Long, a senior, said. “This will help us individualize our dancing and be more creative.”

The session was held at the Body Vox Dance Center in Portland. The intermediary was White Bird Dance, which scheduled Wednesday’s performance by Pilobolus. A lot of White Bird’s artists do educational outreach when they’re in Portland, Anderson said, and her class got an invitation this time.

Pilobolus has a presence that goes beyond the stage of a performing arts center, by the way. Dancers from the troupe were featured on an August episode of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

The group’s dancers have been featured in television commercials for Mobil, Ford, Toyota, Opel and Hyundai.

And the Heritage students got to bring home some video of their own Pilobolus-inspired performances.

The whole workshop was captured on video, as were short individual performances, providing plenty of material for analysis in the classroom, Anderson said.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558 or tom.vogt@columbian.com.