NETTA YERUSHALMY HELGA AND THE THREE SAILORS
November 7, 2014
Across the back of Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, white paper stretches lengthwise over a white Marley floor. Home movies project revealing a determined little girl, around 3 years old, pumping her arms and tromping down the sidewalk. Next to the projection, Netta Yerushalmy snaps out a brisk walk forward, and twists back reflecting the intent if not the exact steps in the film. The tautly rhythmic passage repeats again and again until it turns into a mental hum. This theme resonates throughout the new work “Helga and The Three Sailors.” It would seem Yerushalmy is Helga and the three sailors are her supporting dancers, Marc Crousillat, Amanda Kmett’Pendy and Sarah Lifson.
In the first half, the slim Ms. Yerushalmy dominates the action. Easy flow straight-ahead steps basted in the modern dance idiom, concentrate on micro movements that grow in intensity and size as they repeat. At one point, body erect over traveling small steps, Yerushalmy’s shoulders undulate sensually. The action repeats until the three steps resemble a secret folk dance. While Yerushalmy dances alone and flanking projected images of a young girl (this time 5 or 6 years old dancing in a kitchen), the three dancers drape their bodies around the perimeter of the space.
About halfway through, Yerushalmy takes to the corners, and the three dancers move in tandem or solo, casting eyes down or up, squinting at the audience and shaking their limbs around in youthful, giddy ways.
Each of the three dancers takes a spin across the floor in a strong, propulsive riffs that’s reminiscent of a scratched LP repeating a groove over and over. The very fluid Crousillat explores the greatest level of expressivity and technique, while Ms. Lifson displays expert control. In a particularly athletic moment, Crousillat and Lifson stand together facing away from the audience as Ms. Kmett’Pendy rocks over their bodies spreading her straight legs, and neatly swinging her limbs through theirs.
These quirky sequences are mounted over a soundscore that taps into the rhythmic baseline performed and composed by Judith Berkson. Still, white light by designer Carol Mullins draws up and down, at times lengthening and shortening the performance area.
Personable and spare, Ms. Yerushalmy is exploring an individualized track that deserves watching.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis