"Boobies" Prized

- Interview with Avshalom Pollak

by Donald Hutera

May, 2003

On its third visit to Dance Umbrella, Israel’s Inbal Pinto Dance Company presents eight dancers and two actors in "Boobies". The title alone might lead you to suspect that the tone of this dance-theatre work is comic. But "Boobies" occupies darker, harsher territory than Wrapped and Oyster, the productions by Pinto and director Avshalom Pollak that Umbrella has previously shown. Those works were structured like seamless dreams of motion-led vignettes featuring fabulously freakish characters.While the curiosity and magic factors are still very much present in "Boobies", Pinto and Pollak’s scope seems to have widened beyond the frame of music hall, circus and sad-sack show business that marked their earlier creations.Weird yet somehow delicate, "Boobies" possesses a peculiar cosmic power. Here we observe the grotesque yet bizarrely graceful inhabitants of a beautifully desolate landscape that seems both lunar and loony.

Donald Hutera : What were some of the sources of your ideas for "Boobies"?

Avshalom Pollak : It’s hard to keep track of our sources for a creation because there is so much information, and things change during the creation process.We had an idea to create a horror show and found two action figures in a comic book shop taken from a Frankenstein and Dracula world. These dolls had a very strange posture that gave us some ideas about the movement that we used.We then did a lot of research for finding the right set and costume design.We wanted to get a feeling of a new world that can be pre-historic but at the same time fantastic and dark. (We sometimes think about "Boobies" as the pre-historic mother of "Oyster"). Another thing was to create an atmosphere of dying nature, so the stage can be seen as a dry lake. As we did in the process of creating "Oyster", we used a sketchbook for all the ideas we had for the show. In it we preserve the different parts of the performance like puzzle pieces which we are trying to put together. The book has different drawings of sets, costumes, props, wigs, characters and thoughts that give birth to new sketches and new ideas for our shows.

BoobiesDH : How did "Boobies" get its name?

AP : We always try to postpone choosing a name for the piece until the last stages of the creative process. It’s difficult to know what the title for a show will be before we finish it, and sometimes even after it’s completed. "Boobies" began as a temporary name (just as we did with "Oyster"). My father knew a theatre director who used to address his actors as ‘Boobie.’ then one day we watched a nature show on TV about birds that live in the Galapagos Islands and are called Boobies. They are big and clumsy, with eyes set absurdly close to each other. There are blue-footed Boobies and red-footed Boobies. ‘Bobo’ is clown in Spanish, and that’s how the Boobies themselves got their name. These birds live in a perfect duality. The male and female live a very romantic life: they dance with each other and give gifts to each other.  The mother usually lays two eggs. The first chick that hatches pushes the young chick that follows and the young chick dies outside the nest. In the best case the mother doesn’t get involved, but sometimes she encourages the older chick to do it. There are no birds in our show, but certainly there is something of their world in it.

DH : Compared to its predecessors "Boobies" is a darker show.

AP : It is indeed darker, with few light points in it. But the world that we created has circularity. It’s a violent world that sometimes starts from the most gentle things.We look at the beings in the show as creatures that will always find someone weaker to rule. This world cannot exist without hope, though sometimes it looks like there is no hope.

DH : Once again you and Inbal are drawing upon a fairly eclectic collection of music.

AP : The sound track of "Boobies" is mostly from the Far East, including traditional music from Korea and China. There is also music by Teiji Ito, a Japanese musician who has lived most of his life in the USA.We also use a recording of a child singing ‘Over the Rainbow.’ At the end of the song, the show starts.

DH : How has the show evolved since it began?

AP : We changed "Boobies" a lot after the premiere [in Belgium, 2002]. Like we did in Oyster, I believe that we will not stop working on it. The reactions so far have been good. I think that "Boobies" is working very differently than Oyster on the audience. It maybe sinks in slower, but once it’s there it stays for a longer time.

Dance Umbrella will also tour "Boobies" nationally to Brighton,
Snape and Glasgow


This article first appeared in the Spring 2003 edition of Dance Umbrella News

Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance, theatre and the arts for
The Times, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Now and Dance Theatre Journal.
He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.

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