“Orchids are outrageous, funny, overtly sexual. They’re the drag queens of nature. Why are they such weird, out-of-this-world things?” asks Neta Pulvermacher, whose The Orchid Show runs through Sunday at the Kitchen.
Developed in collaboration with Andy Partridge of the British pop band XTC, Pulvermacher’s new autobiographical work draws on fantasy and the playfulness and isolation of her youth in a kibbutz children’s house. During a run-through at the Limón studio, cutout props and colorful cartoon costumes create a magical swamp. Six dancers perform a witty narrative about the odd world of orchids and the eccentrics who love them.
One night at her apartment, Pulvermacher reads the opening of the piece, “You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food, and cars, but once you’re hooked on orchids, you’re finished. You never get off orchids—never.” She laughs. “The dancer who reads it in the show sounds like Meryl Streep in Out of Africa.”
Watching a video of the opening solo—a dancer traversing lily pads to the XTC track “River of Orchids”—Pulvermacher’s nine-year-old son says, “She has to kiss the ground!”
“My toughest critic,” the choreographer jokes. “His delight and wicked humor formed the work.” The Orchid Show is a whimsical comparison between orchid pollination and human courtship, as well as a meditation on obsession. Never have orchids been so grasping, grappling, and powerful. “I love the idea of things going out of control and spinning into another dimension.”
To Pulvermacher, the production “looks like kindergarten art, like a homemade recital, a low-tech lecture that goes awry. It’s a great relief after years of doing heart-wrenching work.”