This time Gotheiner put his dancers through a faux competition that fell in mood somewhere between Dancing with the Stars and Shark Tank, combining eager striving with off-handed sadism. Electronic gadgetry virtually turned the beautiful dancers into products that viewers in the NYLA Theater were inadvertently bidding on.
Gotheiner piled gimmick upon gimmick. First, a saucy emcee, long-legged and slinky, asked the audience members to keep their cell phones on and tune to a particular webpage—likezvidance.com—so that we could all vote for our favorites in each of several rounds.
Video technicians roamed the stage to tape the dancers’ action, repeating and distorting along the way. Witty videos and inventive lighting (by, respectively, Josh Higgason and Mark London) took what I assumed to be a faux competition to the nth degree of ersatz pop culture with a more than subtle ugly tinge. Chic, casual dance wear by Gabby Grywalski distanced the audience from these enthusiastic company members, exposing the perfection which we were buying hook, line and sinker.
The dancers had to variously perform solos, duets, invent small-group choreography “on the spot” using a theme—wrestling (how apt and how out of left field!)—offered by an audience member (who was probably a shill), each round leading to more and more hostile, ugly comments from the superficially charming emcee whose high heels took on the feel of weapons.
Gotheiner’s dancers are strong, good-looking and adept at his body-twisting movements that allow arms and legs to undulate, jab and swing about freely. Their backgrounds and physiques are all different, yet their unity of spirit clearly constitutes a single-minded, stylistic dance troupe. Causing anyone to choose among this bevy of talent and good looks began as a joke and morphed into turning the viewers into mean-spirited voyeurs at an artistic debacle of their own making, forcing the audience to make choices painful to the cast members.
The performers who participated in Like were Chelsea Ainsworth, Alex Biegelson, Alison Brigham Clancy, Isaies Santamaria Perez, Jessica Smith, Doron Park, Stephanie Terasaki and William Tomaskovic.
ZviDance in Like (November 8-11, 2017)
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-924-0077 or visit http://www.newyorklivearts.org
Running time: One hour and ten minutes including one intermission