As part of its third program at the Joyce Theater, Pilobolus unveiled a work that broke the company’s artistic mold. For “Contradance,” receiving its New York premiere on Monday evening, two former dancers choreographed a production without the assistance of one of Pilobolus’s artistic directors.
Matt Kent and Renée Jaworski (the group’s rehearsal director and artistic associate) tell a story of two misfits who find a connection one soulful night. “Contradance” also features music by Dan Zanes, who leads a family-oriented, Grammy-winning band. While the work doesn’t herald a fresh choreographic voice within the Pilobolus family, the pairing of Mr. Zanes’s music and Liz Prince’s costumes lends a certain dreaminess to the production.
The dance for six — it was created in collaboration with Winston Dynamite Brown, Eriko Jimbo, Jun Kuribayashi, Nile H. Russell, Annika Sheaff and Christopher Whitney, as well as others — focuses on an outcast (Mr. Kuribayashi, who is never too far from his rocking chair) and a demure young woman (Ms. Jimbo). Her friends, who clamp kazoos in their mouths like cigars, try to prevent her from getting too close to the stranger. The couple nevertheless find love: as Mr. Zanes puts it, “two misfits on the endless sea, drifting so easy and free.”
Eventually, the boy-meets-girl routine grows tiresome; often Mr. Kent and Ms. Jaworski don’t have enough material to fill the music. Poised on the rocking chair — which, at one point, becomes something of a boat — the couple sway back and forth. Ms. Jimbo holds a tattered umbrella and suddenly, held aloft by the other dancers, she and Mr. Kuribayashi soar through the night.
In the end, “Contradance” is too naïve for adult consumption. (There’s also something about the dance that resembles a Kindle commercial.)
Far more enthralling is “Gnomen,” a dance for four men choreographed in 1997 by Robby Barnett and Jonathan Wolken, in collaboration with the original dancers. On Monday Mr. Brown, Mr. Kuribayashi, Mr. Russell and Mr. Whitney — as if linked by strands of silk — moved through rigorous, sculptural positions with a startling airiness. The theme of an outsider is present, but here the result has weight.
Pilobolus continues through Aug. 7 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800, joyce.org.