High-energy dance with a few too many extras

'Krump' is named for an alternative-culture street dance from California, which follows earlier improvisational movements a generation earlier.

January 6, 2019 23:27
2 minute read.
Avshalom Pollak's 'Krump'

Avshalom Pollak's 'Krump'. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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More than two years had passes since Avshalom Pollak premiered his second independent creation. His first was Slug (2016), while he was still under Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Theater’s name, a company he co-directed for many years. Eventually, Pinto and Pollak parted from their personal and professional ties.

Just before Pollak premiered Krump, he inaugurated his own company, the Avshalom Pollak Dance Theater, a title that affirms his artistic identity within the bounds of dance theater, which he experienced as a choreographer. One could well notice that Pollak did his best to create a work that will set him apart from his former joint works, and establish his independent creative identity, since his first attempt was very much a product of the Pinto-Pollak company’s attributes.

To some extent, Pollak did manage to distance himself from the legacy of his former company’s productions. These included numerous works well known for their cohesive artistic values, solid structure and singularity, alongside finesse and sensitivity for details, which won the company high stature here and abroad, and a Bessie Award for Inbal Pinto.

The title, Krump, is named for an alternative-culture street dance from California, which follows earlier improvisational movements a generation earlier, such as break-dance, popping, lockin’, hip-hop or be-boys, etc., some of which morphed already and nestled within contemporary dance expressions. Krump’s style should suggest high energy, aggressive positions and a measure of clowning that are faintly detected in Pollack’s new work, except as hints, for instance, in a few stylized slow-motion scenes that lacked intensity or the theater’s typical moves.

In fact, most of Pollak’s energies were invested in theatrical scenes centering on performer-actor Zvi Fishzon, the odd man out at Pinto-Pollak company for ages. After years of playing low key fringe roles, he became its central pillar with commanding stage presence. In Krump, he plays an eccentric, a bit of a nutty king without a kingdom, wearing campy period clothes.

In his best scene he recited in French a long poetic list of his favorite dishes, starting by declaring, “I am the king of foie gras.” Along with that truly original scene, Pollak presented few particularly pleasing female duets and anecdotes, such as the touching musical quintet. Yet, within the fragmented structure on stage, musical collage and pieces of underdeveloped miniature scenes along with bold lighting changes, the last thing the company’s dancers needed was repeated intrusions of pointless parades by a dozen extras from a dance school, sharing the attention and limited space on the venue’s stage while obscuring the dramaturgical core, vague as it was. The late writer Amos Oz was quoted as saying to his writing class students, “I can’t teach you how to write well, but I can teach them how to erase.”

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