Perfect complements

With the premiere of 'Shaker,' Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak prove they've still got creative chemistry.

shaker play 88 (photo credit: )
shaker play 88
(photo credit: )
The newest piece of dance theater by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak, looks and feels like one of those eerily beautiful, but grey winter days, fitfully seen through whirling snow from the window of a fast moving train. Shaker is more somber than any of their previous works, agrees the couple on a bright and sunny Friday morning, "because there are many reasons for sadness," says Pinto. "It surrounds us and it's bigger than us. We didn't start with the idea of making a sad piece. It's there, in the space, and the work grows from that space." The space in Shaker is the snowy landscape inside a snow globe, whose contents move and interact when you shake it. On stage there are three tiny grey huts into and from which the dancers, clad in black or colored bodysuits, appear and disappear as mysteriously as they emerge from the wings or the ground. This piece is a far cry from Oyster, the saucy, irreverent work that introduced the couple in 1999, went on to win the Israel Theater Prize in 2000 and has since been shown in Europe and the US. Pinto and Pollak met in 1992 when Pollak was still a student at the Nissan Nativ Studio. He wrote and directed a play that "had a long name that I don't remember now. I needed someone to create movement for it (which turned out to be Pinto)." Pollak, 36, the son of veteran actor Yossi Pollak, has performed in film, TV and on the stages of the Cameri, Habimah, Gesher and the Haifa Theater. Pinto, 37, studied graphic design at the Bezalel Studio, then moved to dance, working with both the Batsheva Ensemble and Batsheva Dance. She started to choreograph in 1990, did further study at the American Dance Festival and in 2000 won the prestigious Bessie award for Wrapped, winning the Israel Prime Minister's prize for her work the same year. Since Oyster, the pair have created Boobies (2002) and What Good Would the Moon Be (2004). They do everything themselves: the set, the costumes, the movement and the music - "because it's part of the whole creative cycle," says Pinto. "When we think of a movement it's often within a framework that includes set and costumes. We create this dialogue, and because we know each other so well we don't need to establish a dialogue with a third person." Of course they have their arguments, but they agree to disagree "which is why we complement each other," says Pinto as her tired face lights up with a smile. They've been up nights recently because Louie, their two and a half year old son, hasn't been well. The movement is mostly hers, Pollak concedes, adding that "from the start we worked together without deciding who would do what. Each piece is an ongoing process of learning from ourselves, each other and our surroundings." Each work starts with the search for a movement language, and changes with each show. The concept and name Shaker came quite late in the process, says Pollak. "It started...from the idea of dependent relationships, and other opposites, like heat and cold. It's very hard to dissect the way we work because it's part of a puzzle whose pieces aren't even here yet." "We always think of the start as bringing light into a dark room," adds Pinto, "and who knows what happens then. The process is one of finding connections and the balance among the components." Shaker will have its world premiere at the Spring Festival in Rishon Lezion on March 31.