The Neta Dance Company

May 11, 2005

Neta Pulvermacher (standing) and Brittany Reese in
Five Beds/Children of the Dream. Photo by David Hodgson

The Neta Dance Company
Flea Theater, New York, NY

May 11–22, 2005

Reviewed by Amanda Smith


Despite her small size, Neta Pulvermacher is a big, aggressive mover whose work illuminates and stretches her dancers. In this tiny theater, her large movement accentuated the claustrophobic effect of Five Beds/Children of the Dream (1993), which reflects life growing up on an Israeli kibbutz when it was the controversial practice to separate children from their parents. It was the most gripping piece in Pulvermacher’s impressive 20-year retrospective, “Netro.”

Five cots and six dancers, wearing what looked like a prison outfits, represented the children’s house (where they lived apart from their parents, minded only by two caretakers who left at night) and its inhabitants. In the central role, Pulvermacher ferociously described the idiosyncrasies of her housemates: the girl who twisted her hair while doing sums, the boy who picked his nose, the child who sobbed relentlessly. Pulvermacher depicted a sad, stressful childhood, with screaming, throwing of cots, and lives shaped by hardship: the suicide of a friend’s soldier brother, the children’s dejection and isolation. Yet there was camaraderie and, here and there, as when a man lying on a cot embraced Pulvermacher, signs of affection.

In Vivaldiana (2001), Natsuki Arai, a powerhouse, distinguished herself repeatedly, flying through the air in this momentum-filled, balletic dance. In Matildas (1991), stately Omagbitse Omagbemi was elegantly paired with the smaller and likewise terrific Theresa Ling—two strong women, thrusting and flinging themselves about, alternating abusive movement with caresses. In River of Orchids, Isadora Wolfe was a postmodern faun, her profile work suggesting Nijinsky and her iridescent green South Sea attire conjuring the work of Gauguin. In A Song (1990), long and lovely Derry Swan exuded clarity and strength as she bent over Lanileigh Ting, moving her arms slowly like a giant bird in flight.

Rainbow Girl
(2003), a fictionalized documentary about a woman who died young, underscored Pulvermacher’s talent for dance-drama. The performers, in sections distinguished by colors and dynamic range, danced out the Rainbow Girl’s story while people in her life—employer, lover, friend—were “interviewed” on tape. Eye-catching guest artist Luke Miller revealed a crisp, fine yet lush technique that belied his 6’ 3” height. Maile Okamura, a Mark Morris dancer and Pulvermacher alum, danced a lovely solo in the green section, peaceful, strong, and flowing. At the end, in the white section—a symbol here of all of life coming together—we hear Pulvermacher’s voice as the Rainbow Girl: “White was the last thing I saw.”

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