Episode 594 – Robert Pranzatelli

Virtual Memories Show 594:
Robert Pranzatelli

“This book is about the balance between art and life and trying to capture that vitality in both.”

Author, publicist and partially involved narrator Robert Pranzatelli joins the show to celebrate his amazing new book, PILOBOLUS: A Story of Dance and Life (University Press of Florida). We talk about the origins of the legendary Pilobolus dance company, his transformational first experience seeing them in 1997, the workshops he took with them and the friendships they engendered, and the “itchy fingers” moment when he realized he had to write their history. We also get into Pilobolus’ unique melding of improvisation and dance technique, the joyful challenge of describing their dance pieces on the page, the importance of capturing the time capsule of Pilobolus’ ’70s roots (and covering All The Affairs, along with the friendships and fallings-out), how Pilobolus was taken seriously by dance critics long after audiences flocked to them, the company’s through-line in its 50+-year history and how they managed to continue the tradition of something that was based on overthrowing tradition. Plus we discuss Robert’s history as a writer, how Metal Hurlant & Moebius blew his mind as a teen, how he became a book publicist at Yale University Press, his narrow-focus mode of reading, his greatest eBay score, why he got choked up while reading a text he sent Pilobolus’ artistic directors after a performance, and more. Give it a listen! And go read PILOBOLUS: A Story of Dance and Life!

“How do you continue the tradition of something that was based on overthrowing tradition?”

“You can’t go to a workshop as a paying customer and expect the instructors to want to be friends with you for the rest of your lives. But somehow we crossed that line.”

“I’m not a fan who wrote a book; I’m a literary guy who wrote a book. It was an artist writing about other artists.”

“I was surprised by the number of sources whose first question to me was, ‘You know about the affairs, right?'”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Robert Pranzatelli is the author of a number of essays published by the Paris Review and other literary journals, and a longtime staff member of Yale University Press.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Robert’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Robert by me; cartoon version by Onsmith; art on the wall by Moebius. It’s on my instagram.

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