Jewish Traditions Inform Movement

Jewish Traditions Inform Movement

Neta Pulvermacher’s dance company celebrates 20 years in two programs at Flea Theater

The Neta Dance Company celebrates 20 years of dance with a retrospective of works that have been influential in shaping the artistic vision of choreographer Neta Pulvermacher.

The NETRO season includes seven company works in two programs over two weeks with many guest artists—former company members Stephanie Tooman, Anna Udovicki and Kraig Patterson and dancer-collaborators including Derry Swan, Paul Matteson and Maile Okamura. The choreographer will also perform in one of her compositions for the first time in ten years.

The highlight of the season (on Program A) is the revival of Pulvermacher’s powerful “Five Beds/Children of the Dream” from 1993, set to an original score by Yuval Gabay. This physically charged and evocative work for six is based on the choreographer’s experience growing up in a kibbutz, a social experiment that has been mostly abandoned.

“I made the piece in 1992 and 1993,” the choreographer said. “It took a long time to make and I started just after I gave birth to my son. Having children brings us back to our own childhood. Looking at life up until that point I was always looking forward. Now it’s both. Children put us in touch with mortality in a weird way. It was a strange, kooky way I grew up—communal child-rearing. I’m very aware of how different that is from the way my own son is being raised.”

“Five Beds” was also made under ideal conditions that are hard to find today. Money that was due arrived “like a miracle,” explained Pulvermacher, and she used it, “to make one piece that I would not make any compromises on.” She also had free space courtesy of the Jewish Theological Seminary, “ a private place to experiment, to bring books to translate to the dancers, to recreate the experience.”

The work, which still evokes strong impressions in the memory ten years after viewing, uses the words and the wordless rhythms of T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker” to drive it: “Home is where one starts from. As we grow older, the world becomes stranger…”

Program A also features “Vivaldiana” (1999), set to Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor,” and “Matildas” (1991), a female duet to an original score by David Shea.

Program B features “Goodbye and Goodluck” (1994/2001), created in collaboration with composer Anthony Coleman and his band SelfHaters, for a cast of six violin-playing dancers. Inspired by hidden tales buried under abandoned buildings and synagogues on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the work delves into the Jewish heritage of humor, hope, despair, guilt and longing.

Also on the program are excerpts from Pulvermacher’s delightful narrative fantasy “Rainbow Girl” (2003), a series of vignettes set to Schubert’s “Impromptus,” played live, and a fictitious radio documentary. Completing the second program are “River of Orchids” (1999), a solo set in a psychedelic swamp of giant vinyl lily pads with music by the British rock band XTC, and “A Song” (1990), a duet inspired by the disappearing culture of the Alaskan Tliglit people whom Pulvermacher met during residencies in Alaska in the 1980s.

Lighting design for both programs is by Erik Bruce and the guest pianist is Julian Gargiulo.