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Shadowland : Pilobolus Dance Theatre                                                                                    Folies Bergères

Review by Christophe de Jouvancourt

The première of Shadowland, by the Pilobolus Dance Theatre, took place yesterday at the Folies Bergères theatre in Paris. This Broadway show was totally amazing. Everything was in it, entertainment, poetry and, which is a good surprise, a real artistic work. The audience was clearly receptive and this show deserves to be a success.

Shadowland, Foto> John Kane

Shadowland was created by the American company Pilobolus. It is based on an original music by David Poe and is a really innovative artistic concept. The synopsis is written by Steven Banks, the creator of the famous cartoon character Sponge Boband tells the story of a young woman in search of herself. The main character, MOLLY GAWLER,  is really charming and the story has all the ingredients of a good tale. It is very funny and dreamlike, and delights both children and adults.

Shadowland In the middle MOLLY GAWLER. Foto> John Kane

The dancers have a really specific technique that is the signature of the Pilobolus group and was necessary to create this show. Hidden behind a screen, they play with the lights and their shadows; melt their bodies on a proper choreography to create animals, objects and fantasy characters. They use sets and costumes, created by Neil Patel and Liz Prince, to make it look like a movie or a cartoon. It is very difficult to describe but the result is stunning.

The parts of dance with the shadows alternate with parts of more conventional dance, which is necessary for the story and interesting to understand how the dancers develop the choreographic vocabulary. Unfortunately, the technique is really made to play with the shadows and when the dancers are not behind the screens the dance seems poorer and this makes the show less impressive. However, it has not a big influence on the global impression made by the show and the experience really worth it.


The Pilobolus group is a very successful dance company and one can understand why. Created in 1971, the company has presented its work all around the world and, with Shadowland, has created a new concept which may inspire some contemporary dance companies. Some advertisements have already been made by the company, like for Hyundai, Ford or even Google.

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