Pilobolus’s principle that nothing is what it seems permeates Program A (one of three at the Joyce through July 30), working best in A Selection (a premiere by a collective of five choreographers—Robby Barnett, Maurice Sendak, Michael Tracy, Jonathan Wolken, and Arthur Yorinks—in collaboration with the company). To music by Hans Krasa and Pavel Haas, both of whom died at Auschwitz, and set against Sendak’s garish city in flames, the piece begins when a small troupe in the war zone misses its train to safety. A stranger enters, entices a girl with candy, then lets her literally walk all over him. An acrobat lifts his pelvis from the ground to hoist Josie Coyoc, who’s crouched on his hipbones, then repeats the gesture to appease a Nazi-esque Matt Kent. Coyoc is first a young flirt, then a Jew hiding behind a human wall until her ponytail betrays her. Kent grabs it. While two men swing Coyoc overhead, lovers kiss in the shadows. The stranger, having stripped his own surgeon naked, writhes alone, the face on the rear end of his tights sticking its tongue out. While visually intriguing, these scenes lack connective tissue.
A jolt hurls five scruffily at tired dancers backward in Apoplexy, leaving a sixth to glance about nervously until he’s shot down in the next repetition of an unseen firing squad. Suddenly they’re in a nightclub, pointlessly running around. A dancer convulses to rapid-fire beats one minute, sits serenely in a lotus position the next. Rebecca Anderson is terrific as a trippy sea creature, crossing upstage with smooth back walkovers, flapping her hands underneath splayed legs, and wriggling headfirst into a clump of bodies.
The rest of the program is more straightforward. In Alison Chase’s Solo, Coyoc cuts her way through a paper backdrop to discover its continuation: a square of white floor. Unfortunately, Coyoc does nothing more interesting with her new limits than undulate toward them, stop short—her nose hanging over the edge—and then jump off in a final flash of white light.