This Colorful Tel Aviv Dance Performance Is Off the Wall

In vivid contrast to its title, 'Wallflower' is a subtle, precise and highly imaginative dance performance.

Ruth Eshel
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The 'Wallflower' dancers. A sense of human freedom.
The 'Wallflower' dancers. A sense of human freedom. Credit: Rotem Mizrahi
Ruth Eshel

The acclaimed choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak offer dance aficionados yet another marvelous, highly imaginative, fresh and tasteful work. “Wallflower” is being performed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in a white space, to delicate, enthralling live music played by three instrumentalists from Japan.

The dancers, attired in colorful hand-knitted outfits that look like a spectacular second layer of skin, seem to leap out of the white walls. Are they people? Animals? Everything is open to interpretation. Caught in that white box, looking rather insecure, they make their way along the wall and hang from it like animated pictures. The wall is supportive and even imprisoning. The dancers are like particles of a multicolored whole that atomizes and then regroups into a unity.

A domino motif recurs throughout the work. One touch generates a chain reaction. The dancers move quietly, and when they are carried by one another, they seem weightless. They love the feeling of being together; connecting and crawling forward, they evoke a long primal worm. Everything is very subtle, precise, breathing.

Amid them is an anomalous figure wearing a huge, gorgeously designed costume, richly hued in shades of gray with a touch of pink. Perhaps he is the tribe’s magician, but he also slays the dancers; his very look causes them to fall powerlessly to the floor and his shout freezes their movement.

By means of just six lights affixed to a pillar in the museum space, a transparent yet intimate effect is created. And as in most works by Pinto and Pollak, there is an element of surprise toward the end. This time it’s clothes hangers that descend from the ceiling, one for each dancer. Is this a way to emerge from the white box and reach a different world? A form of life belt? But the dancers, as though they’ve already experienced this stage of life, shed their colorful knitted skins and drape them on the hangers, which carry them back up. They are left with their real body skin generously exposed. It’s as though they have bade farewell to a chapter in their lives. The stage is swept by a sense of human freedom. All is dynamic now, the earlier dolefulness vanished, rich with leaps, the movements thrusting outward as though the dancers want to fly. Sheer pleasure.

The next performances of “Wallflower,” at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, will be on Feb. 5, 14:00 and 21:00; Feb 6, 17:00 and 21:00; Feb. 8, 21:00; Feb. 11, 21:00; Feb.12, 14:00 and Feb. 13, 17:00 and 21:00.

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