Performing Arts: Dance
  PILGULIUM/Baryshnikov Arts Center
December 15, 2021
Ella Rothschild’s Pigulium portrays a different flavor of loneliness than a lot of digital performance that has come from the pandemic. Instead of focusing on isolation, Rothschild shows the desolate effect of sustained unhealthy relationships in a bitter trio. Adi Zlatin performs a vengeful spirit, constantly berating all that is around her. Ariel Freedman shares some of this fire, but also falls into more whimsical affective shifts. Keren Luria Pardes contrasts Zlatin with a chronic, submissive depression, hanging on the edge of each scene, showing true concern only for a small, red book she whips out as her only solace.

Pigulium utilizes a dreamscape structure in which events blur into one another to illustrate feelings and mood swings. The events that may have caused these feelings are absent, leaving us in a one-note wash of pure subjectivity. There are times when the three performers share moments in which they grimace, keep their distance, and tangle in uncooperative folk dances.

Elsewhere, they occupy their own worlds. Freedman delivers a long monologue by herself with her arms absurdly extended by a prosthetic set of two right forearms. Sitting profile, she turns her head to the void, reciting a litany of her troubles in alternating tones of stoic remove and prideful gloating. Any reference to anyone else, however, conjures associative suspicion of her cast mates.

What grounds the material is a dinner table designed by Ofer Laufer. Perfectly timed for the holidays, it is the primary prop on which dysfunction is staged. A table cloth is used as a shroud for Zlatin, first atop the table, and later beneath it, her slow pulling of it over her head inches a sprawling table setup to near collapse as Freedman works quickly to condense it all at the edge.

A supportive ensemble of dancers from Maslool Professional Dance Program enter not so much as dinner attendees, but as a visualization of energetic interpersonal wavelengths that keep the three primary performers from achieving peaceful coexistence. Movements ripple through them, eventually landing on and manipulating the main players into new configurations of mutual avoidance.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

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