On the way up to the entrance to the main hall of the Suzanne Dellal Center, audience members are faced with large portraits of iconic performances from the annals of Israeli dance. Among them is a photo of the original cast of Oyster, taken shortly after the piece’s premier in 1998.
Of the hundreds of dance performances created in Israel, few have enjoyed the longevity and grace of Oyster. A local favorite, the emblematic, whimsical piece by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack, has consistently maintained presence on the stages in Israel and abroad since the night of its premier.
This weekend, as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Suzanne Dellal Center, Pinto and Pollack will present Oyster Limited Edition. The evening will include special sections performed by past cast members as well as cameos by guest artists.
Pinto and Pollack were an obvious choice for the program of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s celebratory Tel Aviv Dance festival. Having formed their company within the white walls and tree-lined courtyards of the south Tel Aviv dance hub, the two artists had been an active part of the development of the local dance community. When Yair Vardi approached them about taking part in the center’s celebrations, he did so with two special requests: that Pinto perform at the anniversary gala, which she did to the delight of all, and that the company take a slot in the six-week festival’s program. This slot was to be filled by a classic work, that Vardi asked the artists to revisit.
“I wanted to host pieces that have been performed here for years,” said Vardi in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. He had asked the same of several artists whom he considers cornerstones in the local dance community. Among them is Ohad Naharin, who chose to restage three older works, MAX, Naharin’s Virus and Mamootot especially for the festival.
“I said to Pinto, come do something special, put something different together.”
For Pinto and Pollack, Oyster was the obvious choice as it is the company’s calling card and the duo’s signature creation. It is the perfect example of what Pinto and Pollack are great at, transporting their audiences to a different world. With Oyster, Pinto and Pollack unveiled the universe of their combined talent, which includes the ability to simultaneously design costumes and sets, put together soundtracks and compose a singular movement language.
Oyster takes place in a kind of oldfashioned circus, with roaring lions, lady body-builders and a tightrope walker.
During the 16 years that Oyster has graced the stage, a long list of talented dancers have breathed into life the denizens of the strange and beautiful world.
To honor the past and present of the piece, Pinto and Pollack called on a few of these artists to return to the circus, so to speak. Former cherished company members Shai Haramati, Naomi Nissim, Dana Shoval, Tali Peretz Laor and Talia Beck have spent the past several weeks in the studio rehearsing a guest section for the new version. Laor was a member of the original cast of Oyster and is seen in the photo in the mezzanine of the Suzanne Dellal Center. Beck was a key member of the company for many seasons and went on to be the first choreographer other than Pinto and Pollack to create a work for the troupe.
As for the rest of the guests, the company has kept a tight lid on the list, vowing to surprise even its most devout fans.
Following its appearance at Tel Aviv Dance, the company will transport the world of Oyster to Russia, where they will perform at the International Platonov Arts Festival in Voronezh.
Oyster Limited Edition will be presented at the Suzanne Dellal Center on May 29 and 30.
For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il