The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company is visiting Portland for the third time this weekend at Lincoln Hall, bringing the new-ish production “Wallflower” (2014) to show us. Although it lacks the riotous circus surrealism of the company’s earlier shows, “Wallflower” is still an engaging dance work, once you get inside it a little.

The dance was made for the Tel Aviv Museum of Modern Art, and it’s an abstract outlier in Pinto and Pollak’s work, which typically has narrative elements. “Wallflower” doesn’t really have little stories in it. It’s more about what happens when the museum closes, the lights go down, and the paintings come to life.

White Bird is showing Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak's "Wallflower" at PSU's Lincoln Hall this weekend./Courtesy of White Bird

White Bird is showing Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s “Wallflower” at PSU’s Lincoln Hall this weekend./Courtesy of White Bird

We know the dancers are “paintings” because of their colorfully abstract costumes, and we know they are in a museum because of the two stark white walls that dominate the stage. When you think about it, paintings are a form of “wallflower,” I suppose, in a positive way, and when they start to move around they continue to maintain their affinity for the wall. In “Wallflower” the wall is a prop that the dancers constantly lean against, touch with their hands, even crawl along with the help of their colleagues. They can escape the magnetism of the wall, but usually only with the help of a bridge of their friends. And when they find themselves without a helping hand, movement is very difficult, slow, made in laborious bursts.

Accompanying them is a soundtrack provided by three Japanese musicians. The music doesn’t provide a narrative hook, either, though at “Wallflower”’s climax it moves away from its odd peculiarities and occasional darkness toward something that sounds triumphant. Yes, “Wallflower” DOES have a climax, and though I’m tempted to give it a way—it would be fun to talk about its implications—I won’t. (A hint: Think about what might be lurking beneath the “painting”?)

Along the way, the dancers have some delicious moments, first in a series of duets (no, the possibilities of the duet have not yet been exhausted) and then a set of trios. And one dancer, Zvi Fishzon, spends most of the concert wrapped in a costume that allows him to play “sculpture.” Sometimes to humorous effect, though not always.

I had the museum in mind the whole time, and I wonder how viewers who didn’t make sense of “Wallflowers” that way dealt with the piece. It could be tough sledding.


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