They call themselves Pilobolus. Don't worry about what the word means -- the definition I found was "a genus of fungi that commonly grows on herbivore dung." Pilobolus is the name of a celebrated dance company from Connecticut. It hasn't been here since Artpark was in its state-funded glory.
Now, Pilobolus is back. It's coming to the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts. And it's not alone.
On schedule for the 2008-2009 season is an impressive array of countless attractions: some highbrow, some lowbrow, many not easy to describe.
Dance tops the list. Thomas Burrows, the Center for the Arts' executive director, noticed a dirth of dance in Buffalo some years ago and set about righting that wrong.
"I realized dance was sporadically happening," he says. "Occasionally, Shea's would bring someone in, but it was not consistent. So we began a dance emphasis."
Pilobolus was a coup. So was Momix, a company founded by Moses Pendleton, a founding member of Pilobolus. Momix, famous for its dance and visual illusions, has never been closer than Toronto.
There are no touring operas this year -- "These companies are finding it more difficult to come to this country and tour," says David Wedekindt, the center's marketing director -- but there is little quiet.
"Every space is utilized flat out, full time," Burrows says.
Some events cater to the masses.
On Nov. 22, the group Classic Albums Live will be faithfully reproducing, note for note, the sound of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album. Based in Toronto, Classic Albums Live is a shifting slate of musicians who present exact live performances of beloved rock albums -- right down to the the pauses between songs. Last year at UB, the troupe focused on Led Zeppelin.
"I was really amazed how they were able to reproduce the songs of the album," Wedekindt says. "We couldn't get them off the stage. They just kept coming back and doing more encores."
A more offbeat crowd pleaser is Frank Warren, the mastermind behind PostSecret. PostSecret's Web site invites people to send in secrets, anonymously. People submit them on postcards, often artfully decorated.
"The secrets can range from something really silly to something deep and sad," Wedekindt says. "This thing has taken off. I think he boasts a couple million visitors a month, thousands and thousands of postcards every day. Now he does speaking tours. He talks about the power of secrets. We got unsolicited e-mail from UB students, suggesting him."
Warren, egged on by UB students, spills his secrets on Thursday. (Read much more about Warren and PostSecret in Sunday's Spotlight section of The News.)
Congratulated on the center's crowded season, Burrows generously credits his staff.
"It makes booking artists so much easier," he says. "Artists are so happy to play here."
Tickets for all UB Center for the Arts events are available at the Center's box office or through Ticketmaster outlets, including www.ticketmaster.com. For more information on events at the Center, call 645-ARTS or visit www.ubcfa.org.