Symphony of sound and visuals in Mayumana’s ‘Currents’

If Jorgensen’s recent performance by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra provided what we typically associate with music, Mayumana’s arrangements Friday night were anything but. Hailing from Israel, Mayumana is a group whose work is easily able to entertain all audiences, regardless of age or nationality. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

If Jorgensen’s recent performance by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra provided what we typically associate with music, Mayumana’s arrangements Friday night were anything but. Hailing from Israel, Mayumana is a group whose work is easily able to entertain all audiences, regardless of age or nationality.

Using a combination of dance, sound effects, unorthodox instrumentation and vocalization, the show seemed dedicated to pushing the envelope on what constitutes music. The best known comparison I can make to it would be the group Stomp. If you have ever seen any of their work, Mayumana’s performance was fairly similar. Both use everyday objects as percussion and inject humor into their performances to appeal to a wide audience.

While the similarities are noticeable, they are not identical. For example, Mayumana places a much greater focus on the visuals and their interactions with the percussion. In one of the night’s most entertaining moments, one of the performers left the stage to incorporate audience participation, stopping at four or five spectators and allowing them to provide their own beatboxing skills to match his. During this, another performer followed him, equipped with a video camera that livestreamed the audience interactions onto the system of screens set up on stage. Allowing the audience to take part and then projecting them as if they were on stage was a nice visual touch which further enlivened the performance.

The objects used to provide percussion were very surprising. While there was the standard fare of garbage cans and buckets, two particular objects stood out: Scuba flippers and a glass of water. Performing a tap-dance-like routine, the dancers wore flippers on their hands and feet. This provided a range of tonalities when they stepped, clapped and shuffled about. The glass of water segment was truly a surprise. Using only a small tank filled with water, the performer utilized the surface tension of the water to produce a multitude of strange sounds as he filled or emptied the glass.

In the show’s description, it was mentioned that this particular performance, “Currents,” was inspired by the “historical battle of currents between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla in their quest to finding energy sources for the world.” Perhaps I attended the wrong show, but from what I saw there was really no suggestion of such a theme. Two or three of the segments had something to do with electricity, but even then, there was no sense of a feud between opposing sides. The show, to me at least, seemed to be just a collection of humorous or unique segments that each did something interesting with percussion or visuals. If they were really trying to represent Edison and Tesla, it didn’t work.

Despite that one nitpick, this was still a very fun and enjoyable show. While this isn’t the first time these performance techniques have been attempted, the men and women behind Mayumana were still able to inject their own unique flavor and style to make seeing the performance worthwhile.


Evan Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at evan.burns@uconn.edu.