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Madrid City in English
Sunday 18th of November 2018

Event details

Mayumana – Racconto
24 November  -1 December  

Mayumana, in the words of founders Eylon Nuphar and Boaz Berman, is 'art with  no boundaries'. The group, conceived in 1996, takes its name from the Hebrew word for skill. Their new show, Racconto, an Italian word meaning ‘retrospective’, revisits high points from previous productions whilst showcasing the group's seemingly superhuman skills.

            Two years after its founding the group first performed in Israel, where they received the Award for Excellence in Theatre Production from the Israel National Academy of Theatre. At first glance the most obvious boundary broken by Mayumana is a geographic one — the group consists of artists and performers from around the world. This inter-cultural nature makes the stage an United Nations of music, dance, language, and culture from every corner of the earth.

            The show begins with the entire cast sitting around a long, rectangular table, while narrator Andreau Buenafuente explains in his booming baritone voice how the group can act in perfect synchronization. He says "¡izquierda!" and the group snaps its collective head to the left. "¡Derecha!" and in an instant they all face to the right.

            Without warning each member simultaneously leaps onto the table with white paint buckets and the real show begins. They pound them with drumsticks and explode into an impressive display of choreographed poly-rhythms and dance, changing seats and leaping over one another with the flexibility of Olympic gymnasts, all without missing a beat. Projected onto the screen behind them is footage of previous performances, highlighting the precision of their movements and the fruits of a 17 year career.

            Racconto incorporates routines from their previous shows; The Mayumana Show (1998), Bejuntos (2006), and Momentum (2008). Between acts the narrator recounts the artistic and creative steps the group has taken throughout its evolution.

            Despite trying to narrate their story in a self-deprecating, comic manner, the humour can tend toward juvenile and cliché, especially when juxtaposed with the flawless execution of the performances. Mayumana has an abundance of talent in many different fields. Some parts are more dance oriented, while others are more musically inclined, and there are some very special moments that simply can’t be pigeonholed. They can be as innovative as street performers, as talented and professional as a ballet company, or as trippy as an electronic disco rave, with lasers flashing, smoke drifting beneath black-lights, and their earth shaking beats.

            What is perhaps the most original facet of Racconto is how technology is used to break the boundaries of 'traditional' audience participation. Rather than the usual call and response or clapping to a beat, members of the audience can expect to become integrated into the show itself. A member of the cast will leave the stage with a hand-held camcorder and film the unsuspecting spectator as they react to their image and voice being projected behind the performers for all to see. If you don’t want to be in the show, sit in the nosebleeds, but if you truly want to experience Mayunama you mustn’t fear the limelight.

            Racconto is used as an opportunity to reveal the group’s ever-mutating story, as well as to demonstrate the vast range of skills that they have gained throughout the years. It almost feels as if they are selling themselves a bit short, through playing footage of previous performances they fail to show the crowd the same innovation that brought them into the theatre.

            That being said Mayumana is still by far one of the most interesting dance troupes around, though I hate to simply label them as a 'dance troupe'. They aren’t the first group to break some of these boundaries, especially those pertinent to technology, but they do manage to integrate them into the field of dance to profoundly enhance the show. In doing the same thing that made them such a culturally diverse group they create their art in a way that both conforms to and defies the ‘norm’. Through the same inclusive attitude that has made them such a culturally diverse group, Mayumana seamlessly incorporates technology,
music, and dance into their performance.

            Racconto will be in Madrid until Jan 1 at the Teatro Nuevo Apolo, and is well worth the €20 (+ booking fee) ticket. In their retrospective Mayumana gives the audience a smörgåsbord of their abilities, mostly those of the past, some of the present, and perhaps demonstrating just a hint of the future.

Racconto, Teatro Nuevo Apolo, Plaza Tirso de Molina, 1. Tel: 91 369 06 37 (Metro: Tirso de Molina). Tickets from €20 (+ booking fee) at Until 1 Dec.


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