The dancers in Netta Yerushalmy’s piece “Devouring Devouring,” that premiered last week at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater, enter the bare stage from behind an orange folded curtain. They appear alone, and then various combinations of the four dancers move energetically across the floor, sometimes entangling with one another like vines. An opening sequence that is repeated brings to mind images of a clock and time passing.
Three of the dancers are from New York — Joanna Kotze, Toni Melaas, Stuart Singer — and Ofir Yudilevitch is from Israel. Yerushalmi, who was born in the U.S. and grew up in Israel, began the piece with the idea of observing how dancers in New York and Israel, learning the same movements, would interpret and perform them in different ways.
The dancers’ faces are full of concentration; they’re dressed in simple black pants and grey sleeveless shirts. One man appears in a white baroque gown that skims the stage and later he carries the other man. There’s urgency and anxiety, beauty too, in these imaginative encounters.
Yerushalmy is the recipient of a Jerome Robbins Bogliasco Fellowship in Dance, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Six Points Fellowship from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, among other awards and commissions. She trained in Israel at Misgav Dance Workshop, Kibbutz Dance Company and Bat-Dor Studios, before relocating to New York, where she studied at NYU.
During the performance, there is minimalist music and silence, and also a recording of a 1960s Woody Allen comic routine, repeated twice. A moose and a couple named the Berkowitzes get mixed up, a suggestion of how easy it is for one thing to seem like another.