Slugging it out

The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company performs ‘Slug.’

The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company's 'Slug' (photo credit: MICHAL HLAVIN AND ODED PLOTNITZKY)
The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company's 'Slug'
"A second is the space between two points,” says Avshalom Pollak. He demonstrates this idea by hitting his hand against the table twice. The impact causes a stack of dishes, remnants of a recently eaten breakfast, to teeter slightly. “Time is such a huge concept. I recently was explaining what a second is to our younger son. There are so many ways to explain time; a simple one is that time doesn’t exist without something that contains it.”
Pollak is tucked away in a corner of The Bookworm in Rabin Square. It is early Friday afternoon, and the actor turned artistic director had made his way to the café following a morning rehearsal in southern Tel Aviv.
“We have been working six days a week getting ready for the premiere of our new piece,” he explains.
“We” refers to the nine Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company members who comprise the cast of Slug.
Pollak, 46, was born and raised in Tel Aviv. The son of a prominent actor and director, Pollak was familiar with the stage from an early age. After a successful stint in theater and television, Pollak joined forces with Inbal Pinto, and in 1992 they founded their company. What sets Pollak apart from nearly every other artistic director in the international dance community is that he has no formal dance training and, aside from a few emergency replacements on tour, no experience as a dancer.
“The fact that I’m not from dance is what makes it interesting. I have the ability to do things that aren’t conventional or expected. I connect very specifically to each dancer, and I am able to bring out their strengths,” he says.
Slug, from first spark to final fittings, was directed by Pollak without Pinto, a first for the company.
Slug will be unveiled next week at the Suzanne Dellal Center. The piece, which continues a clear line of whimsical and dream-like productions, is an exploration of the various expressions of time.
“It’s very hard to talk about the piece and very hard to talk about the name of the piece,” says Pollak. “It is the end of one thread, the tip of an iceberg. Slug is a kind of initial stimulus, a jumping-off point. It is not just one thing but many. It can be slug the animal or slug the ammunition. When we create works, we are creating a reality, and that reality is a universe with its own happenings. The title is one planet. These planets influence one another. The Earth is what it is because of the moon,” he says.
The last sentence brings to mind What Good Would the Moon Be, which premiered in 2004. The artistic language of Pinto and Pollak is so rich and developed that without knowing it or intending to do so, Pollak references previous works as he describes the process of Slug.
Slug is the second mollusk in the company’s repertoire, a not-so-distant cousin of Oyster. Pollak goes on to explain that the development of the piece felt similar in many ways to that of Rushes, which was originally created as a commission for American dance company Pilobolus.
“The last three processes, for Dust, Wallflower and Slug had very interesting initial periods. We begin by creating a kind of big bang, a collision of materials that creates an explosion. This chemical and emotional reaction sets the stage for lots of small moments to occur. We used a lot of improvisation and nonconventional experiments and tasks. Just as time needs those walls to define it, so does the process. We start with something very wide and slowly close the walls in, narrowing it down as we go. We go out into the unknown, using our instincts to guide us. The process is influenced by the period of time that the piece is made in, the weather on each given day, the mood. All these elements drive the process to create a kind of magic. It’s not a trick, it’s the inception of a creature that is meant to do something. All of this is driven by our desire to get lost, to learn and to build and invent,” he says.
‘Slug’ will run at the Suzanne Dellal Center on June 16 at 9 p.m. and June 17 at 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information, visit