Mayumana hits home

After years of appearing in Jaffa and around the globe, the successful troupe is embarking on a domestic tour.

Mayumana 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mayumana 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
W hen it comes to grabbing the audience’s attention, in the most universal sense possible it looks like Mayumana may have cornered the market. The percussion-based dance troupe has been churning out hit shows all over the globe for 15 years from its Jaffa base, and it is finally taking its wares on the domestic road.
On November 2 (at 9 p.m.) and November 3 (at 8:30 p.m.), Jerusalemites will be able to catch some of Mayumana’s infectiously energized output at the Jerusalem Theater, when the Flashback production comes to the capital. While the show is largely an amalgam of material the company has put out over the years, with some new items in the mix, Mayumana co-founder Boaz Berman is keen to point out that the team always has something new to say.
“This is not a ‘Best of,’” he declares, “even though I don’t have a problem with the ‘Best of’ concept. We tell a story with this show. We have taken stuff from shows we have done in the past, but we hardly ever do the same thing twice.”
The latter, says Berman, is an essential ingredient for keep him, fellow founder New Yorkborn Eylon Nuphar, and all the dancers in the Mayumana gang on their toes, in more senses than one. “It keeps us fresh, and it helps to keep the audiences interested in what we do,” he notes. “We are always looking for new directions, new sounds, new movements, new ways to convey our thoughts and ideas.”
And while, by definition, the title of the current show may indicate a dip into the past, Berman says that none of the Mayumana team is ever likely to rest on their laurels.
“We are always looking forward. The show portrays the road we have traveled, from even before we opened for business – the initial process of creation. You can see the way in which we have developed over the years, and that leads into the new things we have created,” he explains.
Berman has also engaged the services of TV personality and satirist Moti Kirschenbaum to get the message across.
The production features a giant screen that shows Kirschenbaum telling part of the Mayumana story.
“Moti adds a lot to the show. He narrates our story in episodes, and we present the excerpts from past shows in a different and new style,” says Berman, who danced in the troupe himself for 10 years before concentrating on management and writing music for the various productions. “It is like cooking a stew with all sorts of ingredients. You have different dancers, new ideas and different props each time.”
Berman certainly has the requisite training in the musical sphere. He spent two years at the Rubin Academy of Dance in Jerusalem studying classical percussion, and followed that with Afro-Cuban percussion tuition in New York. He also earns a crust from composing film scores.
Since Berman and Nuphar got together in 1996 and conceived the new artistic enterprise, Mayumana has put on a string of shows that have pulled in the crowds in Jaffa and across the globe. The company opened its account with Momentum, which its creators described as “a meditation on time” that “explores the human compulsion to orchestrate and synchronize our routines and movements to the ticking demands of the clock.”
As a scene setter for the troupe, that sounds perfect.
Like British-based outfit Stomp and several others before it, Mayumana combines music, dance, rhythm, theater and humor to portray all manner of situations in a mesmerizing format. The Jaffa-based company also has the added advantage of combining a wide cultural mix in its artistic team. Berman says that wasn’t necessarily the way he and Nuphar planned it, but it just panned out that way.
“We started auditioning dancers, and we noticed that they came from all over – France, Canada, Brazil and other countries besides Israel.
That makes what we offer the public even richer and more multifaceted,” he says Mayumana, in fact, comprises two troupes. One is based here, while the other does the rounds of the international circuit. Spain is a particularly lucrative market for the company, in terms of both providing entertainment and taking on board new skills.
“We have spent a lot of time there, performing and also learning flamenco and incorporating that in what we do on stage,” notes Berman.
“We also performed in New York, off-Broadway. That was a good experience.”
After so many years working from the comfy confines of its home Jaffa base, what prompted the foray to the eastern end of Route 1 and elsewhere around the country? Besides the Jerusalem shows, there are more slots lined up for Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Karmiel.
“In Israel we have been appearing in Jaffa exclusively, and we thought it would be a good idea to air things out – we like changes – and also to go to all sorts of places in Israel and show the public that we have a show that is worth watching,” Berman explains. “It is a good opportunity for people who have never seen us perform live. And for others who have seen something of what we do, this is a chance for them to see a bit of other stuff we have done. This is a very joyful show.”
Berman says that he and Nuphar bring their full bag of professional tricks to the Mayumana fray, which encompasses all their academic training and a vast array of artistic and athletic pursuits.
Berman’s athletic interests have taken in Thai boxing – on a national level – and various marine activities, such as surfing and sailing. Mayumana productions often include sea-oriented elements. Meanwhile, Nuphar has been a gymnast, a long distance runner, studied music, theater, photography and cinematography, as well as percussion, Oriental music and belly dancing, “Our shows are so much than ‘just’ dance and beats,” Berman says. “There is acting and comedy and even a cappella singing. I think the Jerusalem and other audiences will be surprised and entertained.” •
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