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  •  REVIEW: ZVIDANCE: DABKE+COUPLING

    L-R: Kuan Hui Chew, Chelsea Ainsworth, Samantha Harvey, Nicole Smith in Zvidance: Dabke+Coupling
    Photo by Jacqueline Chambord
    L-R: Kuan Hui Chew, Chelsea Ainsworth, Samantha Harvey, Nicole Smith

    Life Force Dancing

    Zvidance brings Middle Eastern energy to NYLA

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    When the Arabic music plays, the dance sings, in Dabke, Zvi Gotheiner's newest dance presented at New York Live Arts. The Arabic Dabke dance and the Israeli Debka dance are very similar; "dancers, linked by hands or shoulders, stomp the ground with complex rhythms, emphasizing their connection to the land," according to program notes. The group sections, to actual Dabke music, are infectiously fun and energetic and just light up the theater when they occur.

      
    ZVIDANCE: DABKE+COUPLING
    Choreography by: Zvi Gotheiner.
    Dancers: Christopher Adams, Chelsea Ainsworth, Todd Allen, Alex Biegelson, Kuan Hui Chew, Alison Brigham Clancy, Tyner Dumortier, Samantha Harvey, Rommel Salveron, Ying-Ying Shiau, Nicole Marie Smith and Robert Valdez, Jr..
    Music by: Scott Killian (non-Dabke music in Dabke).
    Costumes by: Reid Bartelme (Dabke).
    Lighting design by: Mark London.
     SCHEDULE
    New York Live Arts
    May 31-June 3, 2012

    Zvi Gotheiner grew up in a Kibbutz in Israel and danced the Debka every Friday night., and he says "I have great admiration for the Dabke dancers of the Middle East. They are magnificent, athletic, loose, spontaneous and on occasion ecstatic. Certainly, Nicole Smith seems to be all of these in her solo. As all the solos in Dabke are, it is based on actual Dabke clips on YouTube. Kuan Hui Chew also lights up the stage each time she appears, and her all-out athletic solo takes the evening to its close.

    Along the way, there is a slightly confusing section of shirtlessness, as a man removes his shirt and folds and holds it like a flag, and a woman bares her chest in what may be an assertive, almost defiant declaration of self. Both seem to refer to what Gotheiner speaks of as the new identitiy that European Jews created for themselves as they immigrated to Palestine from Europe in the early 20th century.

    All eight dancers — Chelsea Ainsworth, Todd Allen, Alex Biegelson, Kuan Hui Chew, Tyner Dumortier, Samantha Harvey, Nicole Marie Smith and Robert Valdez, Jr. — radiate energy and life. Dabke works, from start to finish, and feels as fresh and vigorous as anything Zvidance has created. It is a celebration of dance, dancers and Middle Eastern culture at its healthiest.

    Coupling, a series of duets that makes up the first half of the evening, is reliably solid and occasionally inspired. All six duets have plenty of brisk contact, especially the two male-male duets, and there is a steady flow of lifts in most of the male-female duets. Kuan Hui Chew shines in two of these duets as well, giving an extra spark to both, one with Tyner Dumortier and another with Rommel Salveron. And Christopher Adams is a welcome addition to the Zvidance group in two of the other duets. Music choices feel strong and add to the muscularity of the choreography.

    JUNE 9, 2012
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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