Defying Gravity

The Pilobolus dance company forms incredible shapes at the Virginia Arts Festival.

The company performing Pilobolus.

Photo by Christopher Duggan

This season, the Virginia Arts Festival continues its four-decade-long tradition of enriching the cultural and artistic landscape of the Tidewater region by offering an array of performances ranging from Shakespeare and chamber music to coffee concerts, magic, and the military tattoo. In particular, the month of May sweeps in with a don’t-miss dance performance by Pilobolus and a rare version of one of Shakespeare’s classics accompanied by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

On May 10, Pilobolus takes the stage at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach. The group’s namesake is Pilobolus crystallinus, a fungus known for flinging its spores fast and far; a group of Dartmouth College students created a dance of the same name for a 1971 competition and unknowingly provided the company its origin story. Having performed at the Olympic Games, at the Academy Awards, and on Broadway, Pilobolus lends the Virginia Arts Festival world-class flair. Tickets start at $19.

If you prefer classical theater, Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra is a must-see this year. At two performances—Friday, May 13 at the Ferguson Center in Newport News and Saturday, May 14 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk—rediscover this old-time favorite directed by Bill Barclay for Concert Theatre Works. Supported by the musical score of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, this version of the play has been performed only twice before, to raving critical acclaim, in London featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra and at the Hollywood Bowl. Tickets start at $15. VaFest.org


This article originally appeared in our June 2019 issue.

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