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Veteran musician David Broza and Mayumana rhythm group creators Boaz Berman and Eylon Nuphar have been mutual fans for years. They've performed short projects together over the years, but now they've joined forces in a full-length show called Bejuntos - which recently launched in Jaffa.
The production is a mix of art forms. There's music and song, dance and rhythm, Mediterranean, South American, and Spanish beats.
"It's like my mother's chicken soup, how do you describe it? It's a very contemporary pop music turned vaudeville-like, cabaret-like.... it's something like nothing else you've ever seen because there is no such thing," Broza says. "There's no singer-songwriter anywhere in the world who has created a joint venture with [a rhythm group]. It's Paul Simon meets Stomp, Bruce Springsteen meets Blue Man Group, it hasn't happened yet. This is happening here, right out of Tel Aviv."
The show takes the best of Broza, mixes it with the best of Mayumana, and produces a high-level entertaining spectacle. Guitar maestro Broza still strums the tunes, but he also clowns around and keeps a beat with the rhythm troupe. Similarly, Mayumana's actors sing, play music, and perform in tune with Broza's songs.
Regardless of who is doing what, everyone maintains a top level of talent in music, song, and dance.
The show is all about collaboration. The name Bejuntos derives from the word juntos meaning "together" in Spanish, and "be," a Hebrew prefix used to identify its Israeli elements.
"I've always felt Spaniards and Israelis share similar tastes. In general, there's the Mediterranean feel, and there's the mix of Jewish Arab Christian blood in Spain, and that's what you get in Israel," says Broza, about the obvious Spanish theme in Bejuntos.
There's a heavy influence on Flamenco in Bejuntos, though there are also such styles as rap, samba, reggae, and belly dancing. And of course, Mayumana's signature ability to turn nearly all items on stage into musical instruments is once again revealed.
"It's not like half of the show is David Broza's songs and half of the show are Mayumana features. All the parts are new and created together," says Berman.
Broza's songs are interspersed throughout the performance. Lesser known songs like "Painted Postcard" or "Me Voy" are rejuvenated on stage with Mayumana's new arrangements.
"It's a most entertaining way of performing my songs. It's wild," says Broza, who has been in the music arena for more than three decades.
For its part, Mayumana (from the Hebrew meaning skill, dexterity or proficiency) came about in 1996. In 2000, the troupe won the Israeli Theater Academy's prize for Excellence in Theater Production. The troupe began with about a dozen dancers and today includes a cast of 50.
"The aim today is to continue to find the energy, to be new all the time," says Berman, one of the country's hottest percussionists. "People ask us why we don't have more than one show. The reason is that we're revamping all the time. We don't replace actors all that often. The people who started with us are still here. Our cast includes people from all religions from all over the world. We're more of an international group but everyone knows it was created in Tel Aviv."
Mayumana put its regular show on hold for Bejuntos. Broza also put his local concerts on the side to concentrate on the joint project.
Together they're hoping to conquer not only Israeli audiences but foreign ones too.
"Art and culture have no boundaries," says Broza, who is currently working on separate albums for the Israeli and North American markets. "Anybody who claims that because of being Israeli [he cannot succeed] is just lousy; and they're throwing the blame of their lousiness on being a minority. There's no minority. Look how Idan Raichel or Ohad Naharin have done worldwide...The reality is that if you're good you'll get the stage and audiences will come to see you."
At the moment, Bejuntos is only playing at Mayumana House in Jaffa; however, a number of international venues have already expressed interest in hosting Bejuntos abroad. For those in Israel, this is a show to catch while you can.