Inbal Pinto Dance Company: “Oyster” and “Shaker”

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

"Oyster" by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak

“Oyster” by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak.  Photo by Eyal Landesman.

I’ve already seen Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Oyster twice, but I leaped at the chance to see it again at the Suzanne Dellal Center last week.

This time around I brought my partner, Tal.  Tal never went to dance performances before meeting me, but in the last year, he’s been to his fair share of concerts.  Yet after Oyster, he did something he’d never done before: he leaned over and whispered mournfully in my ear, “Is that it?  It’s over?”

Like me, Tal fell in love with this magical work, and in doing so, he confirmed my suspicion that this is one of those few productions that nearly everyone – devoted dance lovers and novice viewers alike – should see.  Israeli audiences may need to wait a little while longer to watch Oyster again, but this week they can catch the company’s captivating performances of Shaker at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

The article below was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “Can’t Shake Oyster”

* * *

Can’t Shake Oyster

It’s not every dance that can boast 10 years of consistently packed concerts.  But Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Oyster is one of these rare, beloved works.  Having surpassed the 400th performance mark earlier this year, Oyster is now celebrating its tenth anniversary with performances by the Inbal Pinto Dance Company at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

"Oyster" by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak

“Oyster” by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak. Photo by Eyal Landesman.

Pinto and Pollak are consummate explorers of the imagination, tracing the glimmer of a new idea into the unknown and then bringing it to life onstage.  Magicians in their use of stagecraft and costuming, the couple combines movement, music and visual design to build their invented worlds.  It’s this creation of an alternative reality far from our own which lends all of their dances, including Oyster, a special timelessness.

What makes Oyster so uniquely appealing though, is its endearing characters and carnivalesque atmosphere. An extra-tall two-headed man, a leggy redheaded ballerina with a stool attached to her behind, and a squat older figure serve as guides to a series of surreal sideshows.

Typical circus attractions like contortionists and strong women are joined here by more unusual creatures: women with their hands and feet connected by red rods, tuxedoed armless men and a pair of tutu-clad women scuttling crab-like across the floor.  Some scenes are humorous, others sweetly touching.  Each is a surprise, a delight, a shiny new pearl inside a shell.

"Oyster" by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak

“Oyster” by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak. Photo by Eyal Landesman.

Besides Oyster, Pinto and Pollak’s Shaker will also be featured this month at the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Shaker transports the viewer under the glass dome of a snow globe.  This make-believe world is populated by another cast of eccentric characters whose sweeping movements create swirling patterns in the carpet of snowflakes.  A more recent production, Shaker too has deservedly attracted an enthusiastic following with its striking visual spectacle.

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