Spinning thread into gold
‘Bombyx Mori,’ the Latin name for a type of silkworm, is a refined dance performance filled with mysterious moments played out in black and white.
Thread is a prominent theme of the dance performance “Bombyx Mori,” the Latin name for a species of silkworm. In addition to the physical thread that crisscrosses the enchanted forest the stage becomes, the production also creates threads of memory that recall other performances by the same company.
The dog, like the clown with the painted white face and round red nose, are characters familiar to those who frequent the productions put on by the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. They are guests in the forest of “Bombyx,” which opened Friday and will be on (sporadically) through June 23 in several cities, and their presence encourages the audience to hark back to earlier works as they watch the fantasy puzzle unfold.
Although the black wall at the back of the stage is barely visible at first, it catches the eye because every dancer who wants to take part in the thread-spinning ceremony in the forest must first crawl toward the wall. This is a kind of visual conceptualization and prop setting that, in various guises, appears in almost all the works performed by Pinto and Pollak. Wondrous creatures enter, or are swallowed, within these cracks and openings in walls; the creatures appear to come from nowhere, and to be headed to no place in particular.
“Bombyx” is a world of mysterious moments played out in shades of black and white. Dancers clad in white squirm out of openings in the wall, as though they are white worms. Dancers dressed in black call to mind technicians working on a darkened stage.
The stage design is reminiscent of an East European theater. The use of stage openings recalls the work of choreographer Josef Nadj, an ethnic Hungarian who was born in the former Yugoslavia and lives in France. Years ago, he held workshops for Israeli choreographers. But whereas Nadj creates a cruel, violent world, the world crafted by Pinto and Pollak warms the heart with refined, sensitive emotions. The dancers in black peel away the white skin of the silkworm, so as to reach a new stage of rebirth. They pin the layers to the wall, and pin the main object by using layers of thread that crisscross across the stage.
Other dancers pull threads to create cubes, triangles and other appealing geometric forms, as though these were a child’s drawings, creating a spectacle that is compelling in its earnest simplicity. In a solo performance, a dancer pulls the threads into the shape of a rectangle wrapped around her arms and legs; then she contract and pulls in her limbs, creating the impression that the thread is being used in a game of cat’s cradle. Finally, in one swift motion, the thread is released.
In another mesmerizing moment, eight threads spin off the back of one crouched dancer, pulled gently and slowly by four others. This creates an image of a mythological creature that ultimately gets pinned to the magic wall.
Even when dancers do not tug on the threads, they continue to serve as points of origin for each action. The thread-spinning movement becomes embedded in physical contortions, as when two dancers dressed in black sit, as though waiting for the threads to be born and emerge. Their fingers twist sharply as though they are pulling lace. They stand still, then suddenly seem to become entwined and form a single body. The movement is so sharp and fast it seems as though they have become machines.
Toward the end of the performance, a black-clad dancer pulls a thread-covered rod from the ceiling. The threads are pulled and the rod covers the front of the stage. The thread becomes a kind of roof, around which dancers happily move, pulling the threads into a kaleidoscope of shapes.
This is an emotionally refined, entrancing production, in which the dancers give a stellar performance that brings to life the magical world of thread.
“Bombyx Mori,” Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company
Dancers: Avidan Ben Giat, Einat Bezalel, Lazaro Godoy, Noga Harmelin, Almog Loven, Ariadna Monfort, Neomi Nissim, Annie Ilana Rigney