ZviDance

ZviDance
Dance Theater Workshop, NYC
April 7–10, 2010
Reviewed by Wendy Perron

 

Kyle Lang and Kuan Hui Chew in Zoom. Photo by Heidi Gutman, Courtesy ZviDance. Video design by Tal Yarden.

 

Until the last three minutes, the strongest element in Zoom, Zvi Gotheiner’s premiere for his 20th-anniversary season, was the video design by Tal Yarden. On a wide screen shadowy figures materialized and disintegrated like bright blotches that repeat themselves or bleach out. Those images were as close to dreams or memories as I’ve ever seen onstage. The live duets that accompanied them sported Gotheiner’s usual mix of well-crafted, visceral movement alternating with gestures. But these were no match for the ghostly onscreen mysteries.

In the coy opening section, a sole dancer in pink mustered a sultry stare and mimicked applying lipstick. On the screen behind her were messages like, “I want u to take my picture; I need a new pic for my profile.” To this viewer it seemed demeaning for the dancer and annoying for the public. (I dutifully report that others loved it.) Later those “pics” we took on our cell phones flashed across the screen.

But the piece deepened as it progressed, and each solo seemed better than the last. ZviDance has a pack of good movers including fluid, springy Robert M. Valdez, Jr.; Jocelyn Tobias, galloping and thrashing on the floor; the crisp Ying-Ying Shiau; and Kyle Lang, bold in red pants, relishing every move. Liz Prince’s vibrant costumes made those few moments when all 10 dancers were onstage cause for celebration.

Scott Killian’s music, with it’s heavy beat and occasional crashes, provided a nuanced version of disaster. Wedged in was a Brazilian rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1950s pop hit “Sixteen Tons,” which lightened the proceedings (the lyrics, doleful in English, sounded upbeat in Portuguese).

Kudos to Gotheiner for embracing current technology with energy and humor. Zoom is very today. Even his style of audience participation was via cell phone, as people stepped out of the audience and onto the stage when they received a texted request to do so. Amusing, even ingenious. The section where Samantha Harvey lies down, cozying up to her laptop, was fun. She invited a shared stream of consciousness via texting. Someone texted they wanted to see a cartwheel, and they got it. Another texted that the guy in red pants was hot (inevitably). Another texted greetings in Russian: “Privyet.” And then all 10 dancers dashed around in an exuberant free-for-all.

At the end, when all the ruckus cleared out, only two dancers were left. On the screen now were expressions like, “I guess I missed you. Was hoping you’d be there” and “Well, I’ll keep my phone on.” In those few words one could imagine what yearnings the texter was going through, which came through in the cringings and skippings of Rommel Salveron stage right, and the curving moves of Kuan Hui Chew stage left. In this final scene, Zoom reached a certain poetry of loneliness.

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ZviDance

92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival
Ailey Citigroup Theater, New York
March 14-18, 2007
Reviewed by Naomi Abrahami


Pictured: Jae Mon Joo
Photographer: Julie Lemberger
Courtesy: ZviDance

One does not just watch a dance by Zvi Gotheiner. One enters a world with its own internal logic, a sensual, organic world of movement, language, and images where one is pulled along by currents unseen and inevitable.

Gertrud, billed as a tribute to Gotheiner's mentor Gertrud Kraus, flows at a relatively calm pace. It opens with a single dancer receiving instructions to, for example, turn their head toward nine o'clock, walk three steps in the direction of two o'clock, etc. On the backdrop are the rows of mysterious “dancing stick figures” that Gotheiner, in the program notes, has told us Kraus kept in her notebook after she stopped choreographing. As the layers of the piece unfold through the repeated riff-like instructions from dancer to dancer, shifts of scenery, and dramatic vignettes, one gets the picture of an intense, demanding, unpredictable woman whose influence on the then-17 year old Gotheiner was enormous. Neither saccharine nor melodramatic, but laced with affection and humor, Gertrud transcends the personal, evolving into a meditation on the process of becoming an artist and the act of creation.

A rhythmic, driving, propulsive piece, Les Noces (marriage or wedding party) provided a welcome contrast to the quieter, more reflective Gertrud. Once again, Gotheiner allows his work time to unfold. A woman sitting alone on a bench is called to movement by a sudden, siren-like sound. Others join her. The men and women face each other on low, black benches. Touching one another's hair, they tentatively check one another out. Various couplings are tried on and discarded. Pairs form: men and women, women together, men together. Conflict arises and is resolved. A single couple is chosen and the dancers unite in celebration, forming a circle that keeps turning even when broken. Space is left for the missing person to return.

In its affirmation of humanity, Les Noces might remind the viewer of Martha Graham's Acts of Light, with it final stage full of dancers striving separately, but in unison, toward a common vision. Here, as the dancers of the wedding party rush to place benches beneath the feet of the bride and groom as they symbolically walk down the aisle, we are left with the image of a community supporting its own on an unknown journey to which even the main players are blind. Yet, with confidence and hope they walk forward into the future.

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