Inbal Pinto Dance Company

Experimental Israeli dance with theatrical punch

PREVIEW Two years ago the Inbal Pinto Dance Company made its San Francisco debut with Oyster. On first glance it looked like a freak show, one of those traveling circuses that paraded so-called human deformities to titillate audiences. I mean, what are you going to do with a two-headed, four-armed MC and a crone who controls live puppets? The entire piece looked like a mix of Fellini, without his loving acceptance, and early Günther Grass, without his sardonic humor — plus a solid dose of that French invention, "new circus." Watching the performers move and dance in that no man's land between fantasy and reality, you couldn't quite let yourself relax to enjoy Oyster's sheer theatrical punch, because underneath all the merriment hid a ghost in the basement.

For their return visit, this Israeli group, appropriately co-managed by a choreographer and a theater director, is presenting its latest work, Shakers, which has nothing to do with condiments or 19th-century New England religion. Its inspiration comes via one of the most common kitsch objects you can buy in tourist locations ranging from Oslo and Moscow — where they make sense — to Cairo and Bombay — where they don't. Remember snowglobes, those little glass-domed, hermetically-sealed trinkets you shake and snow keeps falling, falling, falling? Shakers.

INBAL PINTO DANCE COMPANY Sat/11, 8 p.m., and Sun/12, 2 p.m., $39–$27; family matinee, Sat/11, 2 p.m., $12–$25. Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 392-2545,

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