Review: Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company in Shaker at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Performance: 8 Oct 07
Reviewed by Clare Thurman - Tuesday 9 October 2007

Enter the fantastical work of Inbal Pinto and Avshalam Pollak’s Shaker and you are sure to be entranced. Inspired by the classic child’s toy the snowshaker, Pinto and Pollak’s new work takes you on a magical journey introducing a myriad of quirky, lovable and sometimes haunting characters. Amongst the dynamic carpet of snow, bodies creep, slide and tumble creating a sound scape of swishing, squeaking and moments of stillness that equal moments of quiet. The wind blows and the snow is tossed about as limbs are thrown and dragged across the space.

We are introduced first to an elegant doll like character, spinning whilst twirling a ribbon above her head. She is joined by a gentleman in a garish striped suit who jaunts over to her, and reels her in. They clutch onto each other before he deposits her in one of three kennel type huts along the back drop. This is the first of a series of comic sketches that intersperse the explosive moments that follow.

The storm brews, tension builds and black clothed beings rise and peel away from each other. Constantly switching from duet, to trio to both at once, the tribe flies through the air and skids to the ground, long hair trailing behind adding chaos to the drama.

Some more animalistic than others, various characters show their faces, or not, in the case of the dryad like nylon sheathed creatures. They are mysterious and at first, move with a chilling, powerful calm. As the relationships evolve two worlds collide and they multiply, to become part of the throwing, catching and controlled partner work that inhabits the space.

Perhaps the most quirky of the ensemble is white faced and feline in nature, pouncing and contorting with ease. Smooth transitions continue and a duet to percussive accompaniment sees this creature with the white dryad, unified in a weight shifting sequence with suspended extensions and assuring fluidity.

As the snow begins to die down, more and more dryads emerge until there are eight in a row, shimmying across from one corner to the other. After one final burst of energy and colour, they take it in turns to draw us in with stunning acrobatic feats and the light begins to fade.

The music reaches a thought provoking steadiness at the close of an eclectic score including well known works of Chopin, Gavin Bryars, Purcell and Avro Part. The snow settles and our elegant woman from the opening is left centre stage twirling her ribbon and a bodyless striped suit weaves through the fallen pandemonium.

In Shaker you will find humour, emotion and pure escapism. Be transported.

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