[DANCE] It's official: Chaos breeds creativity. Case in point: Tel Aviv, Israel-based choreographer Inbal Pinto's phantasmagoric carnival ride, Oyster, which hits the Schnitz tonight as the capper to local dance presenter White Bird's eighth season. Under Pinto's big top—which is simply outlined on stage with a pair of twinkling rope lights—no one is without a talent, or a tragic flaw. A wild-eyed ballerina with a halo of red curls flutter-trips across the stage, only to topple backwards onto a stool strapped to her butt. Tall men in tattered collars and Einstein-fros slither and jerk through intricate routines, their limbs amputated by armless jackets. Rag-doll ladies float lazily skyward, strapped into complicated harness-and-pulley contraptions. Each character is beautifully cursed in his or her own way.
Reviewers have exhausted their name-check quotas, from Fellini to Pina Bausch, in an attempt to describe the bizarre visual spectacles Pinto and her co-artistic director, Avshalom Pollak, have presented since Pinto left Israel's famed Batsheva Dance Company (a White Bird favorite who will return for a Portland performance next October) and founded their 12-member company in 1990. Summon the spirit of Cirque du Soleil's lavish big top shtick and Matthew Barney's creepy-brilliant The Cremaster Cycle as a starting point for the freakishly charming Oyster (2003), which is supposedly inspired by moviemaker Tim Burton's short story "The Melancholic Death of Oyster Boy." In a world of choreographers intent on isolating movement from music, setting and meaning, Pinto happily revels in the mash-up of these elements, using fanciful costumes of her own design and a double-handful of plot points to buttress her eclectic mix of modern dance, ballet, acrobatics and herky-jerky pantomime. It seems the Batsheva alum has picked up one of her old artistic director Ohad Naharin's most effective stage tricks too, buffeting her dancers' equally lithe and horrific movements with a wry collage of sound that flits from big band Harry James and Peruvian '50s-era exotica queen Yma Sumac to lonesome, raw stretches of windscapes, clinks and bells. It's all about the total effect with this woman, and the effect in Oyster is both sublime and unsettling—like any good circus, or shellfish, should be.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 245-1600 or Ticketmaster 790-2787. 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 3. $19-$43.