BWW Reviews: Yehuda Hyman's Mar Vista

Yehuda Hyman's "Mar Vista" (Spanish for "view of the sea") is a presentation of his Mystical Feet Company, a warm and poignant remembrance of his parents, two spiritual misfits who found each other. I wasn't sure what to expect when I entered the 14th Street Y on Sunday, June 14, 2015, but I came away pleasantly surprised. What I thought would be an over-the-top evening of raw emotions turned out to be a passageway to the heart of one very special individual, namely Yehuda Hyman.

Mr. Hyman's dance concert was written and choreographed by himself, in collaboration with the Mystical Feet Company-Ron Kagan, Dwight Richardson Kelly, Amanda Schussel, and is-according to the program's notes-"a fractured memoir about an American Jewish family." Something we've all seen before.

Weaving together dance, gesture, spoken word, improvisation and ritual, it is Hyman's attempt to come to grips with his family's past and how this has impacted on his life up to the present. While this is an old cliché in thousands of theatrical performances, the fact that it is presented without sentimentality, or the need to bare one's soul to the world and scream, is refreshing and thought provoking.

Hyman's mother had a very colorful past: a forbidden wartime romance in Istanbul and then a journey to the United States, winding up in California, where most of her affairs turned to ashes. His father was a sober, staid character who cherished the ground his mother walked on, while she passed him over for more exotic and colorful boyfriends. While we feel that this would be a good match, it is not until the end of the evening when the father, a 41 year old bachelor, is about to propose that we feel Hyman's mother has come to the realization that she'd better take the marriage plunge soon--she's 32--or she'll be left bereft and bereaved, not to mention what was referred to in those faraway days as an old maid.

As good and sincere as the production is, it would have benefitted from some more spontaneity on the part of the writing and dancing. It sometimes had the feel of being overly scripted. Much of the movement is superfluous and cut be cut, since it adds little to our understanding of Hyman and his parents. What does it really convey? Where are the raw emotions that would tend to overwhelm such people? A great deal of the performance seemed arbitrary, put there for the simple reason that Hyman is a dancer and needed something to do.

Some judicious editing and a further assessment by the collaborators are warranted. I'd like to know even more about Hyman's parents. I need some clues, and I want more.

These are only my observations. I will leave it to Mr. Hyman to decide what to do. He is a man of talent. What's his next step?

Photograph: Napoleon Gladney

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