Woodcock Set To Teach Pilobolus Piece To Joffrey Dancers in Chicago

Jude Woodcock, left, performed in Pilobolus’ original production “Untitled” and will be teaching it next month to Joffrey Dancer in Chicago.

Running great, exercise guru and dance afficionado — Jude Woodcock seems to do it all.
Veteran modern dancer Woodcock, who last made headlines as part of the St. John Land Shark’s Love City

Triathlon, is heading up to the Windy City next month to instruct the renowned Joffrey Ballet.
Woodcock first started dancing relatively late in life, at the age of 24 while attending Southwest Missouri State University.

“I studied modern and ballet and I had to do all of the requirements too,” said Woodcock. “I suffered through tap and graduated in 1984.”

After graduation, Woodcock auditioned for the then young and unorthodox dance troupe the Pilobolus Dance Theater. Today, the Connecticut-based company is still together and is known as one of the most influential modern dance groups in the world.

New Set of Skills
“Pilobolus, the arts organism, germinated in the fertile soil of a Dartmouth College dance class in 1971,” according to pilobolus.com. “What emerged was a collaborative choreographic process and a unique weight-sharing approach to partnering that gave the young company a non-traditional but powerful new set of skills with which to make dances.”

“The group was immediately acclaimed for its startling mix of humor and invention and Pilobolus soon became a self-sufficient organization, its members choreographing, dancing, managing, and publicizing their own programs,” according to the Pilobolus Web site.

After 24 years and touring across the globe with the dance troupe, Woodcock had had enough.

Sick of Dance Belts
“I left in 1994, I just had enough of dance,” said Wood-cock. “I didn’t want to wear dance belts anymore. I went and hid out in the Caribbean for a while and then slowly started getting back involved in dance.”

Over the years, Pilobolus representatives would call Woodcock and ask her to teach workshops at different schools throughout the states.

“I taught some workshops in Alaska and Florida, and even back home at Southwestern Missouri,” said Woodcock.

The Joffrey Ballet is performing a classic Pilobolus piece called Untitled and Woodcock, who also teaches tumbling and modern dance at the St. John School of the Arts, will spend two weeks auditioning and teaching the choreography.

Signature Pilobolus Piece
“The company buys the piece and it’s already choreographed,” said Woodcock. “This is an old signature piece from Pilobolus. So, they buy the rights and we go and teach it to their dancers.”

While the Joffrey Ballet is usually known for its traditional pieces, Untitled is definitely a step in a different direction.

“This is about as far from ballet as you can get,” said Woodcock.

The ballet company, however, put it differently.

“With its acrobatic, quirky and witty works, the famed modern dance collective Pilobolus creates surprising shapes and moving sculpture using the human body,” according to joffrey.com. “In 1985, the Joffrey became the first ballet company to present a Pilobolus work when it premiered its production of Untitled, in which six dancers render the surreally hilarious courtship of two proper Victorian women by two gentlemen suitors.”

Good To Be Scared
Woodcock is excited — and a bit nervous — about her upcoming role as Pilobolus instructor for Joffrey dancers.

“It stuns me they asked me to do this,” said Woodcock. “I haven’t performed this piece in 14 years. I am freaking out — but in a good way.”

“Someone said it’s good to be scared about something,” Woodcock added.