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Review 1, 5-5: Shut up and Dance
Grownup Dancing to (Mostly) Grownup Dances from Zvi Gotheiner
by Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2004 Gus Solomons jr
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NEW YORK -- Zvi Gotheiner
makes delicious movement that blends ballet, done with a released
attack, and the buoyancy of folk dancing. In its New York season
at Symphony Space, April 28-May 1, his ten-dancer company, ZviDance,
performed three of Gotheiner's recent works. They nicely showed
his stylistic range -- lyric to dramatic -- as well as his choreographic
strengths and weaknesses.
Elisa King danced a
solo from the 2001 "Interiors," depicting a woman unable to water
a plant because of mental distractions or painful recollections
that divert her each time she tries; she balances the pitcher upright
as she shifts it around her torso, dribbles the water down her throat,
and finally, she eats a mouthful of leaves from the still thirsty
plant. And in a duet from the same work, sexual restlessness obsesses
Todd Allen and Ying Ying Shiau; emotional momentum accumulates as
the movement gains speed and complexity. At the climax, both huddle
in a fervid embrace atop the chair that shares the cramped trapezoid
of light they're trapped in.
When "Interiors" premiered
in 2001 at the Duke theater -- a troublesomely wide and shallow
stage space -- Gotheiner stripped it of all drapery, exposing rear
and side walls, putting dancers and audience all in the same room,
eliminating theatrical masking and shaping the space only with light.
At Symphony Space, he and his talented lighting designer Mark London
employed the same effective strategy. A bare brick wall backed the
dances and exposed lighting battens framed the sides, effectively
creating a neutral space for the dancing.
"Lapse," created in
2002 for Repertory Dance Theater of Utah, took us on a journey of
indeterminate nature. Dancers jog backwards, as if devolving into
the past, where they rediscover past relationships and encounters.
Over the course of the half-hour ballet, each dancer emerges from
the group for moments of solo reflection or brief, intense but emotionally
ambiguous encounters with others.
In blue-patterned bathing
suits by Naoko Nagata, the dancers recline in a diagonal line as
if lolling on a beach, while King dances off to one side of them.
Tall, powerfully built David Rodriguez engages in a troubled discourse
with himself, while a tight clump of others drift in and out behind
him. Sleek Barbara Koch's long blond ponytail flies, as she does
her leggy soliloquy surrounded by the four men. Allen dances a stretchy,
sinuous solo, ending prostrate, and then braids his legs around
those of Shiau, who hovers over him in a mixture of tenderness and
Through a maze of London's
harsh white beams that slash across the space, highlighted by a
misting machine, the dancers weave and tangle in human chains; Gotheiner
skillfully reshapes the space and mood continuously throughout,
knitting the episodes together with variations of the running motif,
round and round in a clockwise course, and ending the ballet with
Allen leaping into blackness.
The popular composer
for dance Scott Killian devised the intriguing scores for the two
dances above, using a mix of electronic and instrumental sounds,
textures, and rhythms that supported but didn't dictate kinetic
ideas. The newest work, opening the program: "Easy for You to Say,"
which premiered at Juilliard last December, rides on the acerbic
melodies and surging harmonies of the Piano Quintet in G Minor by
The dance begins with
a spate of joyous, buoyant motion for ten dancers. Shortly, the
dancers start to hum bits of the score. Ashley Gilbert and Eric
Hoisington, during their duet, repeatedly clap hands over each other's
mouths to silence the singing. Allen and Hoisington partner together
with Allen persistently asking "Did you say something?" or "What
did you say?" but getting no response from the mute Hoisington.
Between the musical movements, dancers move to the sound of their
The vocalizing and text,
perhaps an attempt to humanize the dancers, fall flat; it's arbitrary,
naive, and theatrically underdeveloped. Perhaps it worked, jokily,
when Juilliard students performed it, but it adds nothing to the
lyrical purely kinetic expression of the lovely, elongated lines
and tricky foot patterns that make Gotheiner's dancing by his luscious
-- and very grownup -- dancers such fun to watch.
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