Surrender yourself to a work of dance created by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak and you are whisked into a gentle, magical world of singular beings to whom amazing things happen. In their new work, “Dust,” we are invited to attend a requiem for a world of myths, poetic and sad, that touches on life, hard work, the forces of nature, human nullity and, despite everything, a hope of connecting.
Underlying the work is a Korean saying that also explains the choice of the title: “Gather dust to build a mountain.” In other words, hard work will produce results, but sooner or later a strong gust of wind or tsunami will strike, the dust will be scattered every which way and everything will start again from the beginning.
In this work, we see what may have happened in the wake of a tsunami: All the land of an unspecified country is covered in water. The point of departure is a story told in marvelous black-and-white illustrations, created by Shimrit Elkanati and Roni Fahima, on a huge scroll that is spread across almost the whole front part of the stage. Held by two dancers, the scroll opens to the sides. A head with two big eyes and pupils that dart nervously about invites the audience to see.
What is revealed is a flooded country. Roofs protrude from the water, furniture floats by, tables and chairs lie upside down, their legs pointing upward, and a sea of pages drift by of a culture that once existed but has now vanished.
The pupils of the eyes lead us to a particularly large building, perhaps a school or an industrial structure, in which water cascades down from dozens of windows. There is also a tree trunk that has remained lodged in place and a snail trying to climb it.
The prologue concluded, the scroll is rolled up and a vast, sealed windowless building appears. Inside is a space that resembles a classroom, and students in white school uniforms. Also in the room is a black figure (Zvi Fishzon) in a long black robe, with head covered. He looks like a nanny or a wizard depleted of his powers. He is soon joined by a man in a blue suit (Andrea Martini) and a student (Gil Shachar).
The lexicon of movement is based on an image of humans as marionettes. Their limbs are lifted at the joints by strings, and they move, almost hovering, on the balls of their feet, as though responding to the progress of the strings above. When the strings slacken, each body coils into itself. Litheness, speed and precision are required by the dancers, and they must surrender themselves to dreamlike, slow, flowing moves.
“Dust” makes considerable use of tables. A table lid can be opened and those hitherto trapped in the room can slither into it, sink down it as into a well, perhaps in an attempt to escape from the closed place. The ticking and ringing of a clock is a leitmotif, possibly indicating the time before a catastrophe, or a new counting of time after it. The dancers, wearing roller skates, move about in the space among the tables, a huge circle of dance around the hands of a clock. In one marvelous segment, the dancers flatten the three tables on the floor and open the lids, revealing tableaux of dozens of drawings of people attached to a revolving axis, and the drawings begin to flip over – just like in animated films.
The pages tumbling onto one another by the circular motion create a rhythm of time, perhaps again signifying the time before or after the catastrophe. Then, suddenly, words burst out, in an incomprehensible language, from a mouth whose lips are spread wide, emitting frightening sounds about the horrific tale. When the lips close, a long tongue emerges as a piece of paper: a report of the damage, documentation of what happened. At another point, the black figure pastes scores of pages to its body – like a library of what should and could be salvaged.
Immense delicacy suffuses the work. The people look like illustrations; the illustrations like people. And, as always with Pinto and Pollak, there are last-minute surprises. All those still alive in the room join hands and launch into a kind of circle dance of mutual responsibility, get tangled up in one another like in a cat’s cradle and miraculously disentangle the bundle, before becoming entangled and disentangled over and over again. Possibly they are trying to solve the riddle, which might save them – or the world. Until it’s solved, they will go on dancing, hand in hand, on and on. The curtain comes down and still they dance. And then it will all start again.
“Dust”: Choreography, costumes and set: Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak; lighting designer: Yoann Tivoli; dancers: Gil Shachar, Andrea Martini, Mirai Moriyama, Mayumu Minakawa, Cordelia Lange, Stav Struz, Zvi Fishzon (actor). Next performance: Suzanne Dellal Center, Tel Aviv, January 30