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To LIKE or not to LIKE is ZviDance’s question

by Bonnie Rosenstock
November 14, 2017
New York Live Arts
219 W 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 691-6500
LIKE, in its world premiere, is ZviDance artistic director Zvi Gotheiner’s third work in his trilogy on perceptions of friendship, social belonging and social hierarchy, which began with ZOOM (2010) and SURVEILLANCE (2014), both of which I didn’t see. LIKE, an entertaining interactive evening-length multi-media work with a dire warning, scrutinizes our ever-increasing dependency on technology and how it is shaping our social interactions. The premise is to “like” the dancers, who are competing for the top prize in a TV reality dance show, using cellphone votes that are projected on a screen so we immediately see the results.

The leggy Alison Brigham Clancy, “an amazing dancer,” Gotheiner told me at the November 8 opening night gala, did a terrific job hosting the competition with sarcasm, biting wit and a spiraling meltdown. They collaborated on her outrageous lines, which probably reflect the real thinking of some of those reality judges, but are too frank, hurtful and disturbing to say. “With Trump winning, there’s a different hierarchy of winners and losers,” said the Israeli-born Gotheiner. “I thought it would be interesting to comment on it. I wanted to slowly degrade humanity, with somebody who enjoys being powerful. At the beginning, she’s quite civil, and then she’s losing it as she goes along.

“It was interesting to research it as an artistic process with the dancers, which was fantastic,” continued Gotheiner. “They pushed me. We brainstormed, improvised, and it got clear. We laughed about it, did two moves and then talked for two hours.”

The audience members had to program their cellphones to the designated website, so that after each round they would be “judge, jury and executioner,” said Clancy with wicked glee. The four men and three women included Chelsea Ainsworth, Alex Biegelson, Isaies Santamaria Perez, Jessica Smith, Doron Perk, Stephanie Terasaki and William Tomaskovic. Round 1 featured short solos, which showcased the dancers’ personalities and individual styles. Ainsworth won the first round. Terasaski told me at the gala that the vote was legit, that every night of the five-performance run would be different according to the votes, and they didn’t know ahead of time who would be eliminated, which was “stressful,” she admitted.

Round 2 were Blue Team and Red Team trios. Perk had been eliminated. “Not everyone’s dreams come true,” Clancy gushed. Since they didn’t know the voting outcome ahead of time, these talented dancers created the choreography, with the task to stay connected, in the three minutes allotted them. The two dances were deftly performed and featured dragging, pulling, floor work, lovely lifts and smooth transitions.

Ainsworth’s team won, and she thanked her family who came even though “they told me I’m not worth it,” she said. To her haters, “they can suck it,” she added.
Smith, who was eliminated “isn’t one of the elites,” said Clancy, “but she did get five votes from her mom.”

At one point, the dancers gave acceptance speeches. They riffed off real speeches, which they condensed and made more personal. Terasaki took one of Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar speeches. Someone mangled Sally Field’s iconic Oscar-winning “You like me” speech, but I don’t remember who it was.

After a “commercial break,” with fake commercials and a video peek into the dressing room, with Clancy pumping free weights, the remaining four contestants were paired and asked to perform an intimate duet. “Dance together and die together,” Clancy announced. Terasaki said they had to memorize 20 different duet combinations, some of which would never be performed, depending on the vote.

The final winner never happened, as Clancy cracked up and everything went haywire. All the dancers returned onstage for a powerful group number. But did the medium deliver the message, or was it just a fun evening? Hard to say, but my vote is for ZviDance.
ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman


ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman


ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman


ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

ZviDance in Zvi Gotheiner's LIKE.

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman

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