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Flash Review 3, 3-16: Borderlines
Gotheiner Charts the 'Territory'

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2005 Beliz Demircioglu

NEW YORK -- Zvi Gotheiner's new "Territories," seen February 26 at the Duke as part of the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project, is physically and intellectually inspiring. From the moment the audience entered the theater, Gotheiner and his Zvidance performers dropped clues that the evening would offer different ways of looking at borders and territories. The stage seemed wide-open and exposed, revealing the dancers, dressed in black rehearsal clothes, 'warming up' and measuring parts of their bodies and of the stage with a tape measure while we found our seats. One performer, Eric Hoisington, walked up to a spotlight and measured the length of the circle illuminating him, continuing to measure as he retreated and the spot's dimensions changed.

In order to explore multiple ideas of 'Territories,' Gotheiner found various ways of measuring bodily and intellectual difference. In physical micro form he experimented with setting borders and measuring distances with the bodies of the performers. He played with the idea of how a body creates a closed form and what is inside gets locked into it. When he used the body parts to measure distances between different bodies Gotheiner's choices were creative. He wasn't limited by just hands. In one section a female and a male dancer were standing apart. As she got closer to him, she used her neck as a measuring tool of the distance between them. She kept replacing her neck on the floor to the ending point of her last placement until she reached him. In macro form the dancers explored evaluating distance in space.

Gotheiner verbally amplified his physical comment on closed areas within a society when an Asian performer recounted meeting a man who tried to insult her by repeatedly taunting her with "ching-ching." Modes of communication like this can also create closed areas, the choreographer seemed to be saying.

The reoccurring idea of invasion and subjugation was introduced by Todd Allen and Jimmy Everett putting their hands on Ying Ying Shiau's head and directing her movements in place while her eyes were closed. The men's apparent power over her was so strong that even when Shiau took few steps away from them she could only stay by herself for a matter of seconds before falling back into their hands. As she finally escaped their control and was able to stand on her own, she opened her eyes. This powerful imagery foreshadowed Gotheiner's conclusion.

The piece balanced individual perspectives against collaged points of view, with Naoko Nagata's costumes highlighting the individuality. Other sections, in which all the dancers executed the same movement but with distinct personal inflections, neatly mirrored New York City, the differences respected and appreciated.

Differences of another sort were addressed when Allen and Hoisington took the stage adorned like Greek and Egyptian sculptures. A third dancer explained the differences between these forms before the two began a duet which evoked the dramatic physicality of Rodin's sculptures.

Mark London's lighting was subtle and strong, supporting the metaphors created in the piece with linear and separated shapes reflected on the floor and the backdrop. Dancers sometimes used these shapes as their borders. Their spatial struggle with crossing and staying in and out of these margins was also reflected in their individual movements.

Throughout the work, pointed fingers became physical metaphors for finding the borders between limits. As the fingers physically pointed at each other, metaphorically they were pointing at different perspectives on personal, cultural, sexual, religious and emotional territories. The piece concluded with a dancer outlining the simplest territory of the self inside the form of the body. She closed her eyes and pointed at her own eyes with her pointed fingers.

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