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Hapless Spiegelman Still Moving

By: Steven Heller | July 1, 2010

Pilobolus Dance Theater‘s main event this past week at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College was a new work called “Hapless Hooligan in ‘Still Moving,’ ” It was created by Art (“I know nothing about dance”) Spiegelman and choreographer Michael Tracy, one of Pilobolus’s artistic directors, in collaboration with the company’s dancers. Spiegelman talks about the process of making tableau vivant from comics here.

“Neither at Pilobolus nor anywhere else have I seen this kind of dizzying overlap of cartoon, film, silhouette theater, and live dance,” wrote Alastair Macaulay on June 28 in The New York Times.” And yet it also picks up on, and refreshes, aspects of Pilobolus that have been there since the beginning: the dream logic, the clowning, the sense of physical liberation that’s only at times highly sexual, and the defiance of categorization.”

Hapless (or Hap) is based on Fred Opper’s Happy Hooligan, but also Charlie Chaplin‘s little tramp. He’s a “Little Fellow” who is in love, but whose girl is also pursued by a man who’s twice his size and a bully. “Mr. Spiegelman could have told it entirely in cartoon terms,” adds Macaulay. “That, however, would have been a smaller and simpler piece.” The story is told as a comic enacted by the dancers as silhouettes. The silhouettes and cartoons appear in the same frame and interact.