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The Clarice

Inbal Pinto Speaks on Shimon Peres and her ‘Wallflower’

The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack company performing ‘Wallflower’ in 2015

The eyes of the world have turned to Israel this week following the death of Shimon Peres. Twice the prime minister of Israel and a member of the Israeli parliament for more than thirty years, Peres was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and a prominent advocate for peace. Peres’ death has put Israeli politics in the news this week, but Israeli culture is also having a moment here in D.C. – live and on film.

This Sunday you can see Ohad Naharin, the founder of the Gaga dance movement style and Batsheva Dance Company, in the award-winning documentary about him — Mr. Gaga – at the Jewish Film Festival. And the following Thursday, the Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company will perform their choreography Wallflower live in a one night stand at The Clarice.

Inbal Pinto got her start as a dancer with Ohad Naharin/Batsheva in the early 1990s. Joining forces with Avshalom Pollak – an experienced actor – the company creates distinct artistic visions. I spoke with Pinto by phone to ask her about the Company’s upcoming performance at The Clarice, the piece the company will be performing – Wallflower – which was first performed at a museum, and the legacy of Shimon Peres.

Jonelle Walker: What was the inspiration for Wallflower? What generated it among the company?

Inbal Pinto: First of all, this piece was created for the Tel Aviv Art Museum and, so, it was basically the first time we did a piece outside of a normal stage and the fact that it’s in the museum has a big effect on the process of the creation, of building it. The way that we approached it was using our bodies in the craftiest ways. Like, imagining our bodies like a plastic artist using his tools and materials. Refining our bodies as texture, as different textures. Almost like imitating strange combinations of materials, and how we define those in our own bodies … Of course, we are talking about human beings, so that creates all kinds of images when you are using your body as a metal … it defines your communication with others.

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Manifesting Premieres Works by Mauceri, Graf, and Reid at NextNOW Festival

On Saturday, September 9, 2016, at the University of Maryland’s NextNow Festival, three playwrights premiered first drafts of new commissioned works. The plays were commissioned by the University of Maryland as part of the Festival.

Maria Ortiz and-Becca-Ballinger. Photo by-Dylan Singleton.

Maria Ortiz and Becca Ballinger in ‘Shirt Too Big, or Do You Like It?” Photo by Dylan Singleton.

Shirt Too Big, or Do You Like It?, by Sam Mauceri, explores the complex, fraught territory of sexuality and gender identity, following two bisexual students, April (Maria Ortiz) and Evan (Becca Ballinger), on a date in Evan’s bedroom. Both Ortiz and Ballinger turn in strong performances, giving life to Mauceri’s naturalistic dialogue and smartly navigating the more heavy-handed discussions of identity.

The play has interesting in-depth discussions of bisexuality butShirt Too Big feels like a short selection from a longer play: key background details are unclear, secondary characters are underdeveloped, and the central conflict arises too rapidly to be satisfying. The play leaves one wanting for full-length version and, with any luck, Mauceri will have the opportunity to develop it.

MaryamFoye in 'Rock,-Paper, Photo by Dylan-Singleton. Open with

Maryam Foye in ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors.’ Photo by Dylan Singleton.

Everything Will Be by Joe Graf, explores an apparently simple late night encounter between two strangers on a park bench. A smoker (Maryam Foye) and a non-smoker (Noah Israel) meet coincidentally and, after a slow start, the non-smoker confesses that he has been struggling to find his way after graduating from college. Graf’s plot isn’t a great grab and Everything Will Be fizzles a bit by the time it reaches a climax. Moriamo Akibu’s sophisticated direction and the performances from Israel and Foye helped the play spark.

A deconstructed theatre work, Rock, Paper, Scissors, by Sisi Reid, pulls apart the identity of a black queer woman. Rock, Paper, Scissors doesn’t have a traditional plot or characters; Black (Foye), Queer (Ortiz), and Woman (Ballinger) fight it out in high-stakes rounds of rock, paper, scissors. Through each “shoot out” the characters try to understand each other, but of course ultimately one wins while the other loses, reflecting the difficulty of integrating distinct identities. The performances and direction were weaker for Rock, Paper, Scissors than for the other plays, possibly simply because instructive works are particularly difficult to execute without cliché. Reid’s work was a clever way to end an evening that was also about young people finding their way.

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NextNOW is the Final Arts Festival of the Summer

For many of us, summer means hot evenings out attending arts festivals. Music fans travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles to attend big music festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. And locally, the DC area has the Capital Fringe Festival, the more traditional Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and more.

As summer winds down, there’s one final festival where you can soak up both the waning heat and pop culture: NextNOW Fest. Produced by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, NextNOW Fest includes two days of concerts and performances September 9th and 10th.

If you’re concerned about the cost of the Uber to and from College Park for the festival: all events are free. You read that right: FREE.

Musical group Black Masala will be performing a free show Saturday evening at NextNOW Fest. Photo by John Shore.

Musical group Black Masala will be performing a free show Saturday evening at NextNOW Fest. Photo by John Shore. 

Saturday 5:30-6:30 pm you can catch local group-on-the-rise Black Masala. Alternately tagged dance, funk, and soul, Black Masala plays a hybrid of gypsy punk (popularized by Gogol Bordello) and New Orleans street jazz. Their new album drops October 30 so expect audience favorites and soon to be favorites.

Later Saturday night is New-York-based, Japanese-born, MitskiRolling Stone called Mitski’s recent album “one of 2016’s most striking.” Her songs draw on emotional themes like romance and identity, with an ethereal/nostalgic 90s alt-pop feel; think: The Cranberries mixed with Celine Dionne. “I tend to be flung around by my emotions,” Mitski said in a recent interview with NPR Music.

Musical artist Mitski -- performing a free show Saturday night at NextNOW. Photo by Ebru Yildiz.

Musical artist Mitski — performing a free show Saturday night at NextNOW. Photo by Ebru Yildiz.

More established acts will be performing at NextNOW through The Clarice’s Artist Partner Program, including Bandaloop. The San Francisco-based Bandaloop—who are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2016—have danced on the side of skyscrapers in India, christened new buildings for Hermes and Virgin Galactic.

Bandaloop. Photo by Atossa Soltani.

Bandaloop. Photo by Atossa Soltani.

The San Francisco-based Bandaloop—who are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2016—have danced on the side of skyscrapers in India, and christened new buildings for Hermes and Virgin Galactic. For NextNOW, they’ll take to the air in The Clarice’s Grand Pavilion throughout the two-day festival. Check the NextNow website for more details on when to see the self-described “pioneers in vertical dance performance.”

Megan Pagado, lead curator of the Festival and associate director of The Clarice’s Artist Partner Program, described NextNOW as central to The Clarice’s mission. “It’s a priority for us to create an environment that celebrates the creativity of our campus community and facilitates active exploration of the arts,” she said.

As Washington begins to wave farewell to the sweltering days of summer, don’t miss the emerging and established artists of NextNOW Fest.

Full event listings and tickets for some events are available at The Clarice’s website.

This article was originally posted on DC Metro Theater Arts.