“2280 Pints!” at Dance Theater Workshop

The Neta Dance Company’s upcoming performance, 2280 Pints! (at DTW, May 25-28; tickets $20/$15), is many things. Sparked from Pulvermacher’s response to an installation at the New Museum and borne out of a summer dance workshop at The University of Florida, the piece is a celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary and a collaboration between dance students and a professional dance company. The hour long piece is comprised of individual sections developed by company members and workshop participants, which have accumulated over the past year from experimentation with buckets. In the performance, a cast of 20 dancers inhabits a playing space of 57 white, five-gallon buckets. I discussed the work with Neta Pulvermacher, founder of The Neta Dance Company, who has created over 75 works and is founder of The A.W.A.R.D. Show! and Dance Conversations @ The Flea.

How did you become a dancer?
I was born and raised on a kibbutz in Israel, a community based on communist ideals. My parents’ generation was amongst the founders. They themselves are from Germany but they immigrated right before World War II. We would work in our little zoo and feed animals, work the land, learn art, musical instruments, and learn to think. When I was 13 I went to a neighboring kibbutz to take a dance class and that’s when I met a wonderful teacher that I’m still friends with. She taught us to listen and choreograph to music and somehow dance stuck.

Why dance?
In some ways because you don’t speak with words. In my upbringing there were so many declarations of ideals that it was so refreshing to have something with very different rules, language which is not verbal. It made me feel that I could say or express things that are difficult to do with words. With music, the ear recognizes a pattern much faster than the eye. It takes a lot more to recognize a pattern in dance because the language is a lot more complex. Dance works with linguistic principles, but it does not have the same exactitude as music. It’s more like poetry. It affects you without having to go through your submission which is another reason why I love it. You could be extraordinarily intelligent or dumb and it affects you without you needing to understand.

What are the origins of 2280 Pints!?
Last May I traveled with 11 of my students who are college dance majors to Israel for a study abroad program. I am originally from Israel and seeing my home country through their eyes was like experiencing it anew for me. I realized how that vitality and intensity of living- both joy and sorrow- is intensified by the fact that there is always an impending sense of violence in that part of the world. Going there with them for three weeks made me aware all over again about the importance of joy and not in a hokey kind of way.  Coming back home to New York City for a short time, I was going to direct a summer dance intensive in Florida for two weeks. I was tired and I didn’t feel like revisiting anything and not sure what I would work on. I read in the New York Times a review of the Rivane Neuenschwander retrospective at the New Museum and saw a picture of her piece, “Rain Rains.” I had to go see it. I walked into this room and it looked like it was raining buckets but in each of those buckets she drilled a hole, so the bucket dripped into identical buckets underneath. It was both visual rain and the sound of rain drops- very beautiful and whimsical. Then on Saturday I flew to Florida and on Sunday I said, “I don’t know what’s with these buckets, but there’s something.” So I went to Walmart and bought 30 $5 plain white buckets. I spread it on the studio floor and not a minute passed and the ceiling began to leak. There was something wrong with the AC. It was very funny.

How does this piece relate to your previous work?
I always think of my work like I’m a scientist in that there is something I research. Being in the studio and investigating is my job. I deconstruct the thing to its smallest ingredient and set it up in a way where it begins to interact and play.  I let it start to happen and I lift my hands and that’s when I see what it is. Inspiration comes from causing and enabling interactions between people, space, matter, ideas, and feelings. Those interactions are always relational. If I’m trying to understand what we make, it’s about the power of the imagination to see things other than what they are in relationship to other things and make an action in relation to another action or object. I’ve made a lot of dances, but this is not me being smart, cool, hip, I don’t’ give a shit anymore. I just want to make something that is vital and open, without any fear. To release a smile in a person’s face, a real deep body smile is a big deal.

Is your ultimate hope for this piece to convey and inspire joy?
It’s much more than joy. It’s a bucket world. It’s a micro world created with buckets, activated by people and music. It’s not fancy. The fanciness of it comes from your ability as a viewer to go with the idea that the bucket will become anything you want it to be. It’s trying to strip human behavior and show it through buckets. The buckets become human and the dancers become more human because of their relationship to them. The imperfections become accentuated because the buckets are uniform. I wanted to make something that would be generous and open. It’s unapologetically accessible without trying hard to be that. To get to that simplicity is a long journey. Mostly I just want you to be enthralled by the end of it that you would join us in the dance party.

2280 Pints!
Performed by: The Neta Dance Company: Courtney Baron, Robin Brown, Karen Harvey, Colette Krogol-Reeves, Meghan Merrill, Lonnie Poupard, Matthew Reeves, Rebecca Warner; special guests; and students from the University of Florida MOD project – a student ensemble directed by Pulvermacher at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Wednesday – Saturday, May 25 – 28, 2011 at 7:30pm. Family matinee on Saturday, May 28 at 2pm.  Tickets are $20, or $15 for students, seniors and children.

Tickets are available by calling 212.924.0077 or online at www.dancetheaterworkshop.org/Neta_Dance


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