By JACKIE MOE
It’s the great battle of creativity and invention with Thomas Edison versus Nikola Tesla in their quest for finding energy sources for the world in the spectacular new show “Currents” presented by the song, dance and percussion troupe Mayumana. Blending physical movement with technology, the lively show will bring a journey between two troops — each representing a different view of the essence of light and electricity — to the Segerstrom Center of the Arts on April 6.
Each troop is inspired by a different esthetic and artistic approach, all of which are presented as a dialogue, through unique sounds, lights and visual effects. The Mayumana troupe is one of Israel’s most celebrated cultural exports, entertaining audiences around the world for more than 20 years.
The show combines a variety of elements: specially made musical instruments, massive video art projections including video mapping on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and eleven skilled performers in constant movement, playing on different instruments and musically juggling between different sounds.
“Currents” artistic director Boaz Berman chatted with Backstage SoCal about the inspiration behind the heart-pounding production. As a professional percussionist, music director and musician, Berman is also co-creator of the shows and was one of the original 10 cast members of Mayumana.
What inspired the story behind “Currents”?
The show ‘Currents’ was inspired by the war battle of currents between Tesla and Edison, we picked this as inspiration to create a show that talks about different forms of energy. Once they are coordinated and synchronized, it became harmony. The show presents different forms of energy and we are doing it by the music and movement; one thing synchronizes and works together in harmony and becomes much stronger. That’s the idea.
What unique elements separate “Currents” from other Mayumana shows?
Well, each element in the show is completely different than the other. So this show is about forms of energy and how it works together and it is accompanied by a very dynamic and powerful video. So what we do in this show is we are visualizing the music, basically, when we use the video projection. And this is the most unique thing for our shows. Usually we are not doing video projections in our shows. And each show is having a different storyline or inspiration. The DNA always is the same. We are doing rhythm, movement. Sometimes with the back story, sometimes just as inspiration in the background; music, rhythm, movement, and basically we try to bring some energy and joy to the audience.
Can you describe acts/parts of the show that get the audience’s largest reaction?
Well there are two parts that get a lot of applause. One is, we call it boys table. It’s three boys and a girl sitting behind a table, and we invented this language that they are talking with their hands on the table using rhythm patterns and then with cups. So, and there are different solos that each one of them do and the other imitates the end of the solos. This is something very, very unique and classic for Mayumana and gets a lot of applause. The second is a virtuosic water buckets solo, which one of the actors is doing a solo on a water bucket that I think is very surprising for the audience.
What does the stage look like? Can you describe the stage production?
The stage basically is a black box, but half of the stage we are putting up video screens, seven of them, and they are put into lines. So the actors sometimes walk between them, and the video projections are cut into seven stripes and from different angles you can see different shapes of video. This is the stage and then props goes in and out with the parts.
What is the inspiration behind the various costumes?
In the beginning, the inspiration was to create a tribe, a Mayumana tribe, because we had two kinds of forms of energy so we had two kinds of costumes. Today, as the show evolved and we’ve become longer. Our new part is mainly about energy. So the costumes are like a mixture from the dance worlds.
Are there any particular acts/dancers/artists that you feel readers should keep an eye out for?
There are no stars in Mayumana on purpose. Everybody is different. When you talk to the audience after a show, each one can point out different actors that they really connected to. And this is our goal. They are very different. Each one is coming from different backgrounds and have different energy on the stage. The crowd usually connects to not one specific a performer.
What do you want people to know about the “Currents” production?
The thing that is important to us for people to understand is basically we are doing art. We are doing what we like. We are trying to enjoy the stage. The actors really love what they’re doing. And the slogan of Mayumana is the art of joy. So if people are finishing the show and they have a boost of energy, they want to go dance, sing and basically feel very optimistic, we did our job. Then we are very happy and our battery is charged and good.
MAYUMANA — ‘CURRENTS’
Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6
Tickets: Start at $39
Phone: (714) 556-2787