If u cn rd this, you may be crossing the street against the traffic staring at your iPhone screen. And should you get knocked down, bystanders may have to weigh their options: Call 911 before taking a photo of you sprawled in the street and e-mailing it to their friends, or after? On the other hand, you, dear reader, may be a semi-Luddite—grateful to have a cell phone when lost in Newark but unmoved by Facebook’s enigmatic displays of virtual friends, and worried what habitual tweeting may do to Generation Y’s prose style (such as it is).
If any choreographer could make multi-apped cell phones and wireless bonding appear warm and cuddly, it might be Zvi Gotheiner; tender lyricism floats much of his choreography. But it also occurs to me, while watching Zoom, his foray into onstage digitality, that his Achilles heel is prolixity. No twitterer he. He spools out phrases of luscious, earthy, full-bodied dancing that seems to keep reproducing and sending out new shoots of its own volition. Sometimes you wish for pruning shears. And just when you think Zoom is coming to a structurally satisfying end, Gotheiner brings on two of his fine dancers (Kuan Hui Chew and Rommel Salveron) for a fairly long duet. Maybe he thought he hadn’t given them enough time onstage. And uniting spectators and dancers in a largely improvisational technological bash can result in fun for all or generate a spate of exchanges so bird-brained that they approach satire. I’m thankful that Gotheiner provides some handsome background dancing by Jocelyn Tobias and Samantha Harvey, while their colleagues phone friends in the audience (“stand up and wave, mom”), receive calls, and have their pictures taken by and with admirers.
We’re given our marching orders at the outset by projected words purportedly coming from Alison Brigham Clancy, who throws her long legs around and twirls until her bright pink skirt flares out around her. We’re supposed to take out our cell phones, snap her and phone the number on the screen or e-mail it to an address (I couldn’t get through). Clancy, a vivid performer, gives us ample opportunity to test our skills—now and then alighting to pose, laugh, pout, and make us think she might unzip her dress.
The photos we’ve taken appear intermittently on the screen at the back, interspersed with the handsomely designed patterns and transformed video images designed by Tal Yarden and enabled by video operator Robert Yardley. Whenever our visions of Clancy do show up, a performer’s gestures can cause them to tilt or come forward. A sideways wave makes them slide across and disappear the way a finger can swipe data on a cell-phone screen.
Then there’s the texting made public. In two sessions, Tobias, belly-down on the floor in front of a laptop, receives and—with near-virtuosic quick-thinking and finger-motion—replies to text-messages from us, the empowered spectators. We can watch the dialogue unroll on the screen. Tweet, tweet! People like her red dress—where’d she get it? To “technology rules,” she replies reasonably, “yep well hmm. . .” Thoughts supposedly emanating from dancers appear fleetingly on the screen too. While Aaron Carr does some great jumps and splats into falls, the projected words ask, “Like my smile?” (He’s not smiling.)
Intermittently, dancers pour onto the stage. Sometimes two pair up and hold down center. Sometimes everyone—including Kyle Lang, Barbara Koch, Ying-Ying Shiau, and Robert M. Valdez Jr.—joins in big swooping phrases of movement that look more analogous to leisurely phone conversations and handwritten letters than to the reigning e-talk. They’re a bright bunch in their sporty, bright-colored outfits by Liz Prince, as they career around an arena vividly lit by Mark London. The music by Scott Killian, with an added bit of contemporary Brazilian music, also suggests a revel.
Gotheiner may indeed be making a comment on the wired generation, but, although he’s a baby-boomer, he’s on Facebook and Twitter. In Zoom’s sometimes smart, sometimes engaging, sometimes dopey shenanigans, he’s got technology in a bear hug.
The Thursday night performance during ZviDance’s 20th-anniversary season honored its history with solos by Gotheiner performed by company member Elisa King and three cherished alumni: June Balish, Eric Hoisington, and Christine Wright. It was a pleasure to watch these seasoned dancers. Balish, in an excerpt from the 1994 Fragile, cradled a dry leaf as she balanced big, sailing turns with little runs; King made sweeping, weighty, dramatic moves to music by Schumann and Luis M. Carmona; Hoisington—fit and athletic—reprised, to a Bach unaccompanied cello sonata, the troubled, drastic choreography Gotheiner created for him in a 1990 work; and Wright, in Solo for Christine, seated on a chair, filled a Bach prelude with eloquent questions about reaching, rising, sliding away, turning back.
Somebody’s probably already put them on YouTube.