Imagine a snow globe where, when you shake it, not only does the fake snow spring to life, but the people and the world within do as well.
Inspired by just such a wintry vision, choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak created Shaker. The unique theatrical dance work performed by Israel's Inbal Pinto Dance Company comes to the Byham Theater on Sat., Nov. 1.
Shaker (2006) is the latest work of Tel Aviv-based Pinto and Pollak, whose award-winning dance-theater productions for their company have been characterized by vaudeville-style theatrics and Cirque du Soleil costuming, mixed with European-style contemporary dance.
Pollak, a former TV and film actor, says he got into dance after meeting Pinto at school in Israel. The two started dating. One thing led to another and presto, a dance company was born.
"I was never planning to do anything and am still not planning to do anything," says Pollak by telephone from Newport News, Va., where his company was performing. "I want to do everything, and in a way working in dance is a meeting point for the things I have done in my past and am thinking of doing in the future."
Since the company's founding, in 1992, co-artistic directors Pollak and Pinto have immersed themselves in virtually every part of their productions, from choreography to costume design. For Shaker, says Pollak, the pair's initial creative processes resembled those of a movie or television show, with meetings, sketches and storyboards about the work preceding its physical creation.
Set to an eclectic soundtrack ranging from contemporary classical music to Japanese covers of 1950s pop songs (not necessarily U.S. ones), the intermissionless, hour-long production is a mostly abstract work sprinkled with storylines audiences can use to fuel their imaginations, says Pollak.
"There is something in Shaker that kind of gets you without you really noticing it," says Pollak. "This snowy cold world can be many things, including that image of the inside of a snow globe."
Eleven dancer-actors, costumed much of the time in head-to-toe body suits, will perform Shaker on what Pollak describes as a living stage filled with tiny white Styrofoam balls. The concealing costumes act as one of many metaphors in the work concerning ideas of individuality and community, he says. He adds that the costume design also helped keep the many tiny Styrofoam balls out of the mouths, ears and noses of the dancers.
For Pinto and Pollack, whose works have been typically been lighter and comedic fare, Shaker is a departure. Critics have called it "dark," "passionate," "child-like," "beautiful" and "sad." But as with an actual snow globe, each time you shake it up, it can reveal a slightly different view of the winter wonderland inside.
Inbal Pinto Dance Company presents Shaker 8:30 p.m. Sat, Nov.1. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $19-40. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org