What do you get when you combine a classically trained dancer and a veteran of the theater?
If you are very fortunate, the result is the Inbal Pinto Dance Company, making its first Philadelphia appearance next week in two performances as part of the "Dance Celebration Series" at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
The featured work on this debut program is "Shaker," an hour-long theatrical collage for 11 dancers and two actors. The production displays the prodigious talents of its creators, artistic director Inbal Pinto, an award-winning dancer and choreographer who performed with the famous Batsheva Dance Company; and her collaborator, Avshalom Pollak, a graduate of the Nissan Nativ Drama School and a veteran actor who has performed in films, television and on stage.
The score for this unusual production combines classical selections from Chopin and Purcell with an eclectic mix of additional music by contemporary English composer Gavin Bryars; Estonian minimalist Arvo Part; Swedish folk music; and Japanese covers of popular European ballads of the 1950s.
The concept, explained Pollak in a recent interview, is to create an integrated series of vignettes emerging from a world inspired by the snow-filled globes that, when "shaken," reveal a winter scene.
The set design features three small gray huts, from which colorfully clad performers emerge. In several segments, the dancers rollick across a stage covered with "snow" created by pounds of Styrofoam balls. When pressed for more specifics about the story, Pollak revealed only that the production is actually intended as "a surprise for the audience, a simulation that enables them to create their own stories."
The Inbal Pinto Dance Company has been hailed as Israel's new voice of dance, and "Shaker," first mounted in 2006, received the prestigious 2007 Israel Ministry of Education and Culture Award.
But the company is hardly "new." Pollak explained that he has been working with Pinto for the past 16 years, and while they started on discrete projects, they now maintain a full-time studio in Tel Aviv's illustrious Suzanne Dalal Center.
A Six-Week Tour
The company also has toured in the past, representing the State of Israel in festivals around the world, and appearing with the renowned Pilobolus Company.
The brief stop in Philadelphia comes in the middle of a six-week tour that began in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco, before moving to stops in Newport News, Va., Chapel Hill, N.C., and Pittsburgh, and concluding with seven performances at the Joyce Theater in New York.
Pollak admitted that there is nothing particularly Israeli about the company in general, or about the production of "Shaker." Still, he explained, "Inbal and I live and work in Israel. What we created is a result of who we are and what we do. This production is a way for us to put something together from our life's journey."
There will be a distinctly Israeli feel to the performance on Oct. 28. Sponsored by PhillyIsrael in celebration of the New Year, the evening also will feature a welcome reception for Daniel Kutner, the new consul general of Israel in Philadelphia.