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Inbal Pinto Dance Company

'Boobies'

Review by Lyndsey Winship

November 5, 2003 -- Brighton Dome, Brighton, U.K.

In her past works, Israeli choreographer Inbal Pinto has shown a natural flair for comic dance theatre. Hearing the title of her third show to tour the UK, "Boobies," you might have assumed that she was continuing in the same vein. But it isn’t what you think.

A boobie is a type of bird, one which is only found in the Galapagos Islands. There may not be any birds on-stage but there’s a definite sense of exotic, unexplored territory. Pinto has created a world of fantastical creatures and characters who dance beneath a huge glowing moon, set in the centre of a deep sienna landscape pricked with thick blades of dry grass.

We’re definitely on the Grimm side of fairytales. While there’s plenty of clowning and good-humoured mime, this world has a dark, sometimes violent side. And "Boobies" is all the better for it. There’s a 10 ft flame haired queen, a pot-bellied hunchback and a beached merman, two four-legged scavengers with feathered spikes on their backs and a man chased by butterflies. But the best parts are when they put the mime aside and concentrate on the dancers.

Our flock of dancers, or is it a pack, or brood? – how do you choose a collective noun for creatures that are yet to be catalogued? – are all of a curious appearance and disposition. Thatches of blue hair are tied in top-knots above yellow faces and expertly tailored bodysuits with jutting elbows and knees. They stand with shoulders hunched and pelvises rocked back, rooted to the ground, making solid but very beautiful shapes. They move as one, with that herd instinct, in a chain of simple rhythmic steps that play out all the possibilities of their new posture.

Four female dancers seem to do most of the work, appearing in various guises. In one section they are dressed in beautiful olive green and antique gold bodices and skullcaps, somewhere between flappers and bathing belles. With attitude and attitudes they are quite reminiscent of Lea Anderson’s Cholmondeleys [an all female dance company formed in 1984 -- ed]. They share the same touches of humour and seediness, and they resist being just another set of dancers doing some steps. Instead they create a completely new physical character, a whole species of undiscovered movement.

This is a real visual treat, and at times the cast look like illustrations from a magically skewed imagination. Adding to the atmosphere is a soundtrack of Korean, Chinese and Japanese music, delicate and haunting, percussive and suitably otherworldly.

"Boobies" is a refreshing, enchanting and endlessly inventive piece of dance theatre. There were plenty of children in the audience who didn’t seem put off by its dark undertones and were spellbound by their journey into an extraordinary world.

Edited by Jeff.

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