Netta Yerushalmy

Giving the younger generation a try


Netta Yerushalmy likes to keep things fresh. Despite a busy choreographic schedule, with a commission for the American Dance Festival last summer and a premiere this month at Danspace Project in New York City, she performs with her friend and peer, Joanna Kotze. “It’s good for my brain and my body,” she says. Yerushalmy also likes to shake up her casting. For her Danspace show, instead of working with the dancers she usually choreographs on—all professionals near her own age (37) and with formidable performance resumés—she’s chosen to choreograph on three recent college graduates. Two she met during guest artist residencies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; one she discovered at a Doug Varone summer workshop. All three dancers will make their NYC debuts in Yerushalmy’s piece, November 6–8.

The benefits of working with a new generation of dancers: “They have more time in their schedules. They’re less judgmental. They’re willing to try things. They’re not doing the movement and already thinking, ‘Does this suck?’ But they’re not just passive doers. They’re thinking and discerning and sensitive to what’s happening.”

The disadvantages: “They don’t have clout. They won’t have people rushing to see them, because people don’t know them yet. And they don’t have much experience performing. How can you give someone confidence and experience and depth as a performer when they don’t have it?”

On generating phrases: “It’s a weaving of weight shifts. We start with two base phrases. Then we analytically take apart the first phrase: moving from one leg to the other, or from one leg to a hand. And every time a weight shift happens, you have to go back to the other phrase and take a weight shift from it. Then you go back and forth. So you’re weaving.”

Why she likes dancing for other choreographers: “It’s really helpful for me. Because as you get older, your body is seduced by habituation—your body wants to generate similar stuff. Doing other people’s work gives me information, but by an indirect route. It’s not infiltrating what I’m choreographing or having a visible effect. It’s more about dousing myself and refreshing.” DT


Training: BFA from New York University

Performance: Doug Varone and Dancers 2007–2012; currently performs with Joanna Kotze

Choreography: work commissioned by the University of the Arts and the American Dance Festival


Photo by Gadi Dagon, courtesy of Yerushalmy

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