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      Netta Yerushalmy
    Raise high the flags and lanterns

    Netta Yerushalmy's recent concert brings a bounty of energy and curiosity to the modern dance parade.


    Netta Yerushalmy carries the torch for modern dance. Possessing none of that cynicism or restraint that characterizes so many of us that face the multiplicity of traditions and the indifference of our generational culture at large (and so by implication some part of ourselves), she makes big, energetic dances full of a self-assurance that has nothing to do with arrogance.

    Choreography by: Netta Yerushalmy.
    Dancers: Josh Bisset, Lawrence Cassella, Ashley Gilbert, Tzveta Kassabova, Paul Matteson, Toni Melaas, Mindy Nelson, Cara Perkins, Kayvon Pourazar, Erin Owen, Colin Stillwell, Netta Yerushalmy.
    Music by: Arthur Solari, Richard DeCicco, John Cage.
    Lighting design by: Josh Bradford.
    Joyce SoHo
    155 Mercer (btw. Houston and Prince)
    May 27-29, 2004

    "Thresholds," grown cohesive since I saw it in progress as the Kitchen last year, turns an eye toward geometries of bodies and cities. Jim Jennings' film of moving train forms highlights the relief of empty space, areas of light against solid structures. The dance works in much the same way, placing a pair exploring light intertwining curvatures against a trio of women part cut-out dolls, part automatons, part good traditional soldier girls. Jane Gotch and Mindy Nelson's costumes further support the distinction. A visual work finding abstract interest in people and cities, the feel is inquisitive. Like all of Yerushalmy's work, there's a vitality derived from taking real pleasure in movement. The dancers all achieve the two-fold life of precision and organic energy. At the end of the piece the dancers exit and the film reels silently until the next work is ready to begin. This welcome disabling of traditional concert timing of see-applaud-whisper-see-applaud-whisper helped to create an alert engagement for the audience.

    "Thereness," a quartet for women that follows the making and breaking of circular form most clearly belies the strong influence of Doug Varone on Yerushalmy's choreography. But rather than creating a work that is derivative, this piece feels to be a working-through of ideas of craft and development- a lesson in an approach to building a moving mass. Performed beautifully, it is an excellent piece of concert dance.

      Beautiful the way a scraped up and muddy eight year old is, this work is full bodied and "dancey" without employing any of the tired types of "beauty" that traditionally circumscribe dancing.
    7:36 is more overtly an experiment, and takes the concert's title "chance. encounter. occurrence." most straightforwardly to bear. A collection of fellows, each rehearsed separately share the space for the first time during the first night of performance. The Cagean strategy here helps to create a level of fuzz or noise absent from the work structured coherently from a single perspective. All the men's material relates somehow, and many seem to follow a similar progression, but the timing and the spacing of their correspondence is intricately jostled. All in white, occasionally the boys shape shift into little buddhas, especially Lawrence Cassella, who spends a good deal of time becoming a cross-legged marble. In the intermission preceding the dance, they played cards. Kayvon Pourazar lost the game and had to dance his material twice. The lone white mouse left in the maze, he retraces his steps until the next piece is ready to begin. Simplicity and curiosity again meet remarkable performance and vibrancy.

    The last work, "Crater in Us", set to John Cage's magnificent "Credo in Us", makes the case for creating work in intensive residencies. Made last summer at The Yard, where Yerushalmy was one of the choreographers in a one-month residency, this piece goes beyond any of the other works in the program, in terms of craft, in terms of coherence, and most significantly in terms of finding a work's identity significantly beyond the curiosities and questions that instigated its development. Whereas the other work on the program was excellently made work inside of the parameters of concert dance (by which I mean it occupied a known landscape and familiar compositional strategy, and could be seen even as it was happening in terms of its place in the modern dance lineage), "Crater in Us" has a frictionless relationship to the coordinate plane of its craft and composition. Complicated, full of sense but undiagrammable, "Crater" is legitimately joyful. The experience watching the work is not one of a person sitting in the audience zone watching something occur in stage space, but of being in the room in which a serious event is happening. Even in a non-proscenium space like Joyce SoHo, where there the white box lessens the separation of audience and performance, I often find it easy to construct a traditional sense of distance from the work in front of me.

    "Crater" obliterates this possibility both through vitality and unnameability. I don't watch it and see compositional tools, organizing schema, dance phrases. It has a sense of unity the way an organic thing has a sense of unity. Beautiful the way a scraped up and muddy eight year old is, this work is full bodied and "dancey" without employing any of the tired types of "beauty" that traditionally circumscribe dancing.

    This type of work, the event of a choreographer and group of performing artists actually being able to realize their potential collision, could only be the result of a lived duration. When so many rehearsal processes are broken into a few hours here and there, once or twice a week, we cannot expect ourselves to be able to significantly develop our work. There are residency models out there, like the Yard, like CCDE's Silo residency, that help keep our generation moving along. I think we need, as a group, to find a new way to actualize our working process in the city. "Crater" can be a flag for this parade.

    Finally, a note of props to Arthur Solari, who composed the music for the first three works of the evening (with Richard DeCicco for "Thereness"), and the outstanding performers, an A-list roster of the 24-34 set who's selfless devotion to dancing, to newness, and to each other was palpable throughout.

    JUNE 15, 2004

    Reader comments on Netta Yerushalmy:

  • i saw the show!   from Rossella Fusco, Mar 21, 2008

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