The men and women of Pilobolus are gorgeous, and their costumes leave very little to the imagination. The allure of buff bodies is a big part of the troupe’s enduring success. Now in their 42nd year, they keep us coming back by collaborating across disciplines, with stars like video director Trish Sie and bands like OK Go — not to mention this season’s addition of celebrated magicians Penn and Teller.
The new “[esc]” brought the Vegas-based duo into the troupe’s Connecticut studio, where they marveled at the dancers’ ability to break out of bags and boxes and all kinds of bondage: locks, chains, duct tape, cable ties — equipment obtainable at Home Depot, Penn Gillette tells us, while warning youngsters is the crowd not to try these tricks at home.
In addition to vintage Pilobolitan works like “Ocellus” (1972) and “Day Two” (1980), in which the fab-ab figures writhe and tumble, we get escape-artist vaudeville, narrated with great verve by Gillette while Teller, as always, sits quietly by. Jun Kuribayashi, stripped of his shoes, belt and switchblade by mock TSA agents, is zipped into his own duffel bag, his extremities bound together with rope, and challenged to work his way out.
While his colleagues wrangle with the stripper pole they’re chained to, or the packing crate and sack into which they’ve been strapped, Kuribayashi quietly wriggles inside the red bag. Meanwhile a young woman, Jordan Kriston, is lashed to a chair with miles of duct tape; it’s no surprise that it takes her barely a minute to break free.
All that’s just the first program. The second bill includes a new Trish Sie fantasy with music by the Nortec Collective, plus four older works.