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An Interview with Netta Yerushalmy about their upcoming performance "From Trees", the lead for the "April and Paris" jazz/dance collaboration at the University of the Arts, at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA)

by Robert Abrams
April 14, 2011
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
215-893-1999

Featured Dance Company:

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA)
PIFA (office)
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Attn: PIFA Festival
260 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
215-546-PIFA
www.pifa.org

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) is a sponsor of ExploreDance.com.

From Trees will be performed April 2 and April 23. Tickets are $5 to $10 each.

Merriam Theater at 260 South Broad Street
Robert Abrams: What is your role in the show?

Netta Yerushalmy: I am a NYC based choreographer. i was invited to create a dance work with the students in the professional ensemble. The work is created to and inspired by the original score that composer John Hollenbeck has written for this event.

RA: Please describe the performance you will present at PIFA.

NY: "From Trees" will be presented as the lead for the "April and Paris" jazz/dance collaboration at the University of the Arts. It is a collaborative piece with music composed by rising jazz star John Hollenbeck and performed by the University of the Arts' big band "Z" ensemble.

RA: What has the collaboration allowed you to achieve that would not have been possible without it?

NY: John Hollenbeck had already written the score by the time I was brought into the project. Still, from my end of the creative process, it does feel like a collaboration in the sense that I am joining forces with another creative voice and inviting his work to lead and shape my thought process.

RA: What is "new" about the art you are presenting at PIFA?

NY: I believe that there are modes of thinking that John and I are working with that might be new to the students. I find it interesting to work with young artists and see how they are able translate and integrate concepts and qualities used in the work.

RA: What is the connection between your show at PIFA and Paris between 1910 and 1920?

NY: Well, this project could be conceived as an ode to the Ballet Russes in their heyday of mega productions presented in Paris in the early 1900s. Painters, composers, and choreographers were brought together to collaborate and feed off of each other creating a real synthesis of arts forms.

John wrote his score based on three Mondrian paintings that were made in Paris, I am choreographing a work based on the score and the paintings, and the costume and lighting designers will join forces with us as well, with the music being performed by a live big band, and the dance ensemble comprising 14 wonderful dancers. It will be a spectacular event.

RA: If audience members were seeing your PIFA show for the second time, what should they pay special attention to in order to enhance their appreciation of your art?

NY: When looking at this dance I would encourage viewers to let go entirely of notions of narrative. Perhaps a look at the paintings would provide a crutch in the sense that it would enable the viewer to see the dance as a flow of forms, lines, colors, textures, and rhythms. These of course are being executed by live beings that are full of personalities, so it is tempting to try and decipher their intention. But I urge viewers to let go of that and to allow the composition of bodies in space to fill their field of vision - like a painting.

RA: Please describe your educational work.

NY: I often am invited to teach workshops and set work on high school students who are in somewhat of a serious dance training frame work. These meetings feel educational to the extent that young dance artists are exposed to new ways of thinking about this art form, but more importantly - new ways of perceiving themselves - through the performative aspect and through the exploration of their budding personality and artistry.

RA: What else would you like people who are thinking about purchasing a ticket to your show to know about your art?

NY: Highly skilled artists, who have thought a lot about what they are presenting, are involved in this production. People should buy tickets and come and sit and open their eyes and ears and hearts to an experience that will hopefully feel new and interesting, but also probably not tangible - in the best sense. When one allows beauty -ugly, awkward, opaque, asymmetrical beauty - to affect one's life, we as artists have achieved our goal.

To purchase a ticket to this show, go to www.pifa.org/events/980191541.
To purchase tickets to all PIFA dance events, go to www.pifa.org/events?bucket_id=1.
For more information about Netta Yerushalmy, go to www.NettaY.com.
To follow PIFA on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/PIFAPhilly.
To "Like" PIFA on FaceBook, go to www.facebook.com/PIFA.Philly.
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