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ZviDance’s “MAIM” Overflowed with Passion and Pathos

by Bonnie Rosenstock
January 8, 2020
New York Live Arts
219 W 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 691-6500
“MAIM” (pronounced my-im) in Hebrew means water. But the English pronunciation “maim” could be just as appropriate for ZviDance’s outstanding World Premiere (December 18-21, 2019) of the same name, whose goal is to raise awareness of the scarcity and destruction of our precious waters. Renowned choreographer Zvi Gotheiner based his multi-media work on his experiences growing up on a kibbutz in northern Israel where droughts, water shortages and the necessity for water conservation were a daily constant in his young life. These personal experiences were seamlessly forged with his investigations into the growing global water shortage brought on by man-made devastation.

The performance on December 18 opened with a sense of urgency, as his seven capable dancers (three women, four men) in bare feet and dressed in white stomped heavily in unison, producing a soundscape while running in patterns of circles and lines. Their palms up and eyes looking heavenwards, searching for signs of rain, perhaps. The dancers later each had a star turn dancing solo with their shadows which were projected high behind them. The ensemble danced as one finely honed organic unit and in various skilled partnerships. They also performed a fine sequence in slow-motion as if underwater. Towards the end of the piece, they poured water into a cup from a water pitcher. Later, they held the half-full glass, took a sip, set it downstage, went back several more times to take more sips. Left them there in front.

The production was a glorious blend of dance, visuals and music. The music was supplied by Scott Killian’s original score with guitars and vocals, and the lighting was designed by Mark London. However, the video design by Josh Haggason was so riveting that admittedly at times I forgot to watch the dancers and just marveled at the changing visuals. (Full disclosure: I’m also a photographer.) The first projection, which panned from left to right and then right to left was a region of arid, cracked, waterless earth. The landscape was fascinating in its bleakness, which revealed earth tones, textures and patterns of rocks, crags and debris. As the dance piece proceeded, the visual imagery keep pace in mood and ambiance with the movement imagery created by the dancers. There was a three-panel of purple, suggestive of waves. Later, there were underwater scenes, a sink filling up with (and wasting) water, empty plastic bottles floating and getting crushed, a close-up of a leaking tap.

This timely and well-constructed piece is bigger than the sum of its three complimentary parts. It deserves another viewing so that I can fully appreciate Gotheiner’s fine choreography as executed by his capable dancers.

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman

Photo © & courtesy of Heidi Gutman

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