American Dance Festival Presents Netta Yerushalmy’s MOVEMENT Review — Derivative NOT!

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We’ll look back and think perhaps that it was the louder and louder beats that summoned us to a new universe in the Nth dimension.  These sounds of this new world are created by composer Paula Matthusen— moving from beeps into anti-catchy chords that nonetheless please and work to arouse our senses.  

The sounds seem to be animating the creatures on stage too.  In our more mundane world they would be called dancers.  At first only two are moving.  We see still bodies on the sides— barely. All appear the color of bright celery stalks,  or perhaps living in a future time and place when spring is entirely chartreuse.  Sometimes their movements are subtle twitches.  We don’t focus on how much they are tuning each other out until they get wide-eyed and pucker lipped as they croon neck and turn head to gaze upon their other.  

You too might imagine that each dancer is internally spinning cocoons around rhythms that only they can sense. When more spill on to the stage they partner fleetingly or quickly glue together.  They dance.

We are saturated in an intoxicating brew from a strange and foreign terroir.  Though entranced, we don’t understand the language being spoken but we blink from time to time as the movements seem to briefly burp into something more familiar.  Is that a movement from a Tae Kwon Do lesson?, one wonders.  Did the lighting and colors somehow shift while the creatures brisk-walked the stage a la Lucinda Childs? 

Are those formal bows to start off a tea ceremony?  Why is she typing and winking?  Did he just go into warrior pose for a reason?  Why is she sitting stage front poised like a library lion back on its heels? Are they copulating on stage?  

We smell a story line, but it persists only as an aroma wafting towards us and then quickly drifting away before we can identify it.

American Dance Festival Hosts Yerushalmy’s Meditation on Found Movement

Paradoxically, Yerushalmy’s work that feels so entirely new is anything but.  Like a sculptor with a strong appetite for dumpster diving to unearth found object treasures, Yerushalmy’s movement pastiches were summoned and mined largely from the bodies of her most able dancers.  These dancers hail from across the globe, serving up their personal multicultural movements to Yerushalmy’s vision.  They have also danced professionally committing other choreographers’ work to their body memories, and from time to time letting other-people’s-movements ribbon, pirouette, splash, jerk or jump on to the stage. Meanwhile, Matthusen’s music ripples energy into the hall.  And to top it off, Lighting Designer Tuçe Yasak slides or flashes red, purple or strobe.   

If you too know an artist who mouthes the word derivative with bilious distaste bring them to Yerushalmy’s thought-provoking meditation on who owns what in our shared cultures.  In the post-performance discussion we learned from Yerushalmy that there are more than 200 citations required to acknowledge all the contributors to Movement.  Many of these contributors get less than 30 seconds of spotlight.  Though feasting on these citations would be a delicious banquet, don’t think Yerushalmy is dabbling in copyright infringement.  In this writer’s opinion, artistic works of any kind don’t get more original than this.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

For more information visit the Netta Yerushalmy website.

Read more about the American Dance Festival 2024 here. 

Photos: Marina-Levitskaya, courtesy of Netta Yerushalmy

Find more Picture This Post dance reviews in the latest roundup — CHOREOGRAPHERS WE LOVE. Also, watch a short preview video here —

Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES BY AMY MUNICE.

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