Photo: Daniel Tchetchik
Photo: Daniel Tchetchik
An Interview with Inbal Pinto
What was the inspiration for Living Room?
When you create there are so many layers. It’s not one thing that initiates the work. We started this creation at the end of the Covid period in Israel. It had been growing in me that I wanted to do a solo piece. I used to work in a company. I did big productions around the world, and never really faced the situation of working with one person. With a group of people you have different tools, different compositions. The dramaturgy is so different.
During Covid I was dealing with the idea of what kind of formats you can have, because we couldn’t do dance, couldn’t meet, couldn’t interact, didn’t have the space of the studio to work in. I felt like dance could be all kind of things. What if we can print dance and send it to people in printed versions? I had also read a story called the Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Gilman Perkins, about a woman who’s locked in a room. It’s a dialogue between her and the wallpaper. And I start playing with the idea of living wallpaper. I love painting, doing crafts. Visual art and painting is part of my life. And so I started working on different kinds of wallpaper and taught myself animation, it’s the most printed movement I could do.
In the end you bring your own life into the story, your own feelings. It felt to me that during Covid, and in life generally, when you are aiming for a certain direction, sometimes life takes over, it has its own unpredictable direction. So it’s about being controlled by something and not necessarily being able to control your own will.
Could you talk about your creation process?
With every piece, you start from the knowledge you had before, from your experience – and also the wish to leave what you did before and to start something new. Every time I start a new work, I try to go on a new journey, because that’s the beauty of the creation process. I feel a big chaos when I create. I come with the feeling that I have to reveal something that is in me that I cannot put it into words. It reveals itself during the process. I come with tools. I come with a key for things, with certain images that I have in mind, and during the process I make the connections. It’s like coming into a dark room. You light one corner then another corner. You’re trying to create a link between them and all of a sudden you create a full picture. It’s really a process of revealing.
How did you decide to work with Moran Muller and Itamar Serussi?
Moran really inspires me. I wanted to keep working with her and felt that she was ready for a full evening as a solo. Moran has danced for me for eight years, she understands me, knows my language. We speak in a range that is familiar to both of us. Also, she has a physicality that is very extreme, and we connect through the physicality of both of us. It’s definitely a collaboration, because the piece needs a certain freedom for her to express herself, to be there as Moran. She needs to feel comfortable, physically, mentally, in order to do this.
So, I started with Moran and then Itamar came. It took me some time to find a man. I was searching for a mature dancer, someone who has more history in his life. He’s 43 now and used to be a choreographer himself. I think the balance between them, the differences between their bodies, their qualities, this is what completes the work.
Do you think the situation of Covid influenced the work?
For me, if you’re trapped, or a situation takes over and you cannot do what you wanted to do, your freedom is in your imagination. Whenever you can dream and think beyond certain limitations, you’re free. Even in Covid, when we were all locked up, most of us found a lot of good things in it. We found that we could paint the walls in the house, we could do gardening…. We discovered that we could do these things. And with this imagination, this freedom of mind, you can feel like you’re outside, you can feel like you’re wherever you want to be. So that’s part of the thought that I put in the work.
How important is nature and beauty for your work?
I love nature. Observing nature and feeling that it’s filling my heart really has an impact on me.
In childhood, when you see something beautiful, your heart feels a kind of delight. This is something that I remember. As an adult, and with my creative work, I feel like I have a wider range. That I can keep this childlike sensitivity but also hold another layer of life that a child maybe would not understand. There are more personal layers, more depth or more darkness. But for me, as a person, I need beautiful things around me, I need to fill my world with beauty. I don’t underestimate beauty. It brings a power to people. It gives hope and keeps us going. In craft, in dance, in communication, beauty is something that I need.
Can you talk about how you created the soundscape with Maya Belsitzman?
Sound can create a space and the location of the space. You can imagine what’s going on outside. Imagine what someone’s thinking, what she’s feeling. For me it gives those thoughts. It intrigues my imagination. That’s the beautiful thing about sound.
Maya is a very incredible musician. She’s a cellist and a singer. I love the cello. It gives a lot of warm colour, a feminine colour. I felt that music created by a woman, in a female world, a feminine world, would work together. It’s not by mistake that we are connected to each other. She works very much like me, very intuitively.
The music has a lot of impact on the dancing. It affects the dancers. It affects me. It affects whatever we do. If it’s not correct, we have to understand why it’s not working. Getting the music right for Living Room took quite a lot of time, especially with the table scene at the beginning – we tried so many things that didn’t work. Then, maybe in the last week of the process, I realised that the physicality should be expressed by sounds, by the sounds of a person who needs to talk but is restricted by something that takes over her body. It’s amazing how the process works sometimes. In the last moment everything comes together in such a complete way that you understand why you’ve been struggling, why you’ve been searching, why you felt uncomfortable. It’s very much about an intuitive process. It’s challenging, but trusting your heart and your intuition brings you to the right place.
How has your background influenced your choreographic language?
I used to dance at Batsheva company. I also studied design art. At a very early age I started choreographing. I did my first piece when I was 23, an ambitious combination of action painting and dance, we filled a 10-metre canvas while dancing. I also started my own company, a company with 12 dancers. Later on, my partner Avshalom Pollak joined, then in 2018 I left for an independent career. Now, as a director and designer as well, I do dance, operas, musical plays in Japan based on classical literature… I’m doing something else all the time, crafts, pottery… .
Every interaction you have with dancers you enlarge your physical archive. Because of the many years I’ve been working, I have a bigger archive of movement, of language, of possibilities of the body. I can work with different artists on different scales and merge my language with theirs. That’s my feeling, that I can present my language in so many ways. For me, the most interesting thing is to reveal my language in new forms.
In what ways do you think being a woman and a mother influences your work?
It’s hard to define, but I think when you see a work by a man, or a work by a woman, you can see the difference. I can recognise a different quality that exists in women.
Being a mother and an artist means there’s less time for everything. But also I think it’s what helps me retain the childlike quality. You keep on playing, keep on playing in your mind. I think this is the reason why I’m creating. I’m expressing myself, bringing together my life, my art, my interests, my children, my talents, their talents. It all influences me. As an artist, life and art is merging all the time, and it’s marvellous because your home becomes more artistic. My children love art. We talk about art, about music. They inspire me, I inspire them. Sometimes, when they draw, I see a bit of myself. Sometimes I draw a bit of them. And sometimes they inspire me by their interpretation of my work. The child can see everything. It doesn’t have the fear of not understanding.
Painted by Inbal, Louie and Ben
I want the audience to come with an open mind like a child. To understand whatever they want, to dream, to think, to bring their own self into this structure that I’m offering.
I think what’s beautiful in dance is that it’s wordless, and people can put their own words, their own life, their own experience into the work. I create a structure. The structure is open for you to bring your own life and give it your own interpretation. That’s the beauty in dance. It’s open to more possibilities. I can give you a structure and you can fill it in.
Text: Vikki Weston
- Choreographer, Costume, Set Design and Wall Drawing Inbal Pinto
- Dancers Moran Muller Itamar Serussi
- Original MusicMaya Belsitzman
- Lighting DesignTamar Orr
- Additional Soundtrack Umitaro Abe Franz Schubert Stephane Wrembel Rowan Atkinson
- Animation Daniella Bokor
- Special Accessories Nir Zeiri
- Costumes Assistant Rinat Aharonson
- Set Production Management Yonatan Kanner
- Set Engineer Boaz Beza
- Rehearsal Manager Dina Ziv
- Technical Director Hagay Shlomov
- Tour Manager and Stage Manager Neta Amit Moreau
- Lighting Engineer Christopher Duncan
- Producer Roy Bedarshi
- Agent Lisa Rozov
About the Artists
Choreographer, Costume, Set Design and Wall Drawing
Inbal Pinto is an Israeli choreographer, director, set and costume designer. In 1992, she established the Inbal Pinto Dance Company, where she created unique, award-winning dance performances as artistic director until 2018. Several of Pinto’s signature works, including Dio-Can, Wrapped, Oyster and Fugue have received international acclaim and contributed to the history of Israeli dance. In 2002, Pinto began a collaboration with Avshalom Pollak, creating, choreographing, directing and designing operas and musicals around the world. Since 2018, Pinto works as an independent artist. Recent work includes a musical play based on Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that she designed and directed with Amir Kliger in Tokyo.
Photo: Michal Chelbin
Born in New Jersey, dance artist Moran Muller moved to Israel at the age of five. She studied and trained at The International Dance Village at Kibbutz Ga’aton, and at the Maslool School of Contemporary Dance at Bikurey Ha’Itim, directed by Naomi Perlov and Offir Dagan. After graduation, Muller began performing internationally with the choreographer Nadav Zelner and worked on a number of projects as a freelance dancer. Between 2014 and 2019 she danced with the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. Muller currently dances with Eyal Dadon’s SOL Dance Company and with Inbal Pinto.
Photo: Luis Rios Zertuche
Israeli choreographer and dance artist Itamar Serussi began his career as a professional dancer working on projects by Inbal Pinto, Noa Dar and Anat Danieli. In 1998, he began dancing with the Batsheva Ensemble and in 2000 joined the Batsheva Dance Company under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. As a choreographer Serussi has created work for a number of international dance companies, including Scapino Ballet in The Netherlands and Balletto di Roma in Italy, as well as companies in the US, Austria, Denmark and Germany. Serussi holds an MA in choreography from Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts.
Photo: Ofir Avrahamov
Israeli singer, cellist, composer and arranger Maya Belsitzman has been a part of the Israeli music scene for the past two decades. She has collaborated on a variety of creative projects, recording, arranging and producing with artists such as Chava Alberstein, Avishai Cohen, Shlomi Shaban, Ninet, Ehud Banai and many more.