Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
January 11, 2000
Reviewed by Judith Lynne Hanna
Choreographer, dancer, costume and set designer, and former member of the Israeli group Batsheva Dance Company, Inbal Pinto presented Wrapped: An Evening in Three Parts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. The quirky, original, and funny Inbal Pinto Dance Company is making its American debut following favorable recognition in Israel and Europe.
With fertile imagination, the young Pinto draws inspiration from everyday life: sitting on a bench, searching for love and community, being enamored, fighting and making up, dreaming, and coping with urban crisis. Identifiable, yet abstract enough to allow personal interpretation, Pinto’s sarcastic and playful commentaries on the human condition masterly combine expressive body and facial movements, music, vocal sounds, costumes and sets.
Little potted cypresses sculpted in the shape of sea horses mark the fantasy that soon appears onstage. Inbal’s work is less dancerly than it is imbued with hints of Charlie Chaplin, puppetry, French film star Jacques Tati, and magic. The dance vocabulary has sharp staccato movements and gestures as well as soft body curves. Contrast and surprise prevail. Vocal clicks provide a unifying thread through the hour-long show. Occasional verbalization is gratuitous.
Some of the fun in the opening part, “Duet,” set to the soundtrack from Chaplin’s City Lights, is Pinto’s ballet and modern dance movement. Two women (Pinto and Maya Lewandowsky) seated on a narrow red bench converse with their bare feet, pointed and in plié positions, tendus, and hand-held leg extensions and contractions. The toe-tapping rhythms-each pair of feet responding to the other’s pattern-spread to different parts of their bodies that pick up the dancers’ variously pulsed tongue-clicking sounds.
Part II, “The Orchard,” set to the music of Fats Waller, Norma, and Estebani Sallas, creates a magical world. A coiled, gnome-like elderly pair dance on their haunches. A group of giant-size dancers on stilts hidden under stiff, narrow, white paper skirts are joined by a dancer half their size. A trio of women performs in blood-red frocks. A dancer gets his hands on a woman’s bottom in a charming social partner dance.
“Wrapped,” the concluding part, is performed to music from Beethoven, Art Tatum and Ben Webster, and Benny Goodman. City emergency sirens are heard as dancers in short overcoats move sternly in unison. A woman perched on another dancer’s back with a typewriter types out dance rhythm. A couple slap each other and then begin kissing. Pinto dances a plaintive yearning solo. When two dancers appear holding a heart-covered sheet, she winds herself up in it, a declaration of solitude and hope.