April 7, 2010

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.