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Allison Hiroto sings the songs of
of the Buryat grandmothers
photo by Alannah Farrell

Jeanie Bogart reads
as Redentor Jimenez plays
photo by Serge Matsko

Katja Kolcio & Nicole Stanton dance
as Julian Kytasty plays
photo by Yorie Akiba

Stefka Nazarkewicz with projection
with projeciton from Yara's first show
photo by Alannah Farrell

Buryat songs against the projection
Of Yara artists on Lake Baikal
photo by Serge Matsko

Tom Lee reads Sayan Zhambalov
photo by Jeehoon Chun

Meredith Wright reads poem from Gorongosa
as Francois Nnang plays
photo by Jeehoon Chun

Consul of Ukraine presents medal
photo by Jeehoon Chun

Princess Olga Medal


A Festival of Art, Poetry, Song and Music
Friday- Sunday January 22-24, 2010
Ukrainian Institute of America
2 East 79th Street at Fifth Avenue in New York

Celebrating Two Decades of Dreams and Destinations


The Past Reaches into the Future: Yara’s 20 Years and Counting

reviewed by Olena Jennings
Ukrainian Weekly, 2/14/2010

Landmark pieces from Yara’s twenty years were presented in the romantic elegance of rooms of the Ukrainian Institute, January 22-24. The event’s diversity is symbolic of Yara’s creative spirit.
Friday night’s gathering was intimate. Guests were guided through the various rooms of the Ukrainian Institute, initially by Inka Juslin’s dancing. Inka has become skilled at interpreting the rooms through the shaping of her body… The poets interpreted their previous experiences with Yara in texts through image and form. For example, one of Wanda Phipps’s poems was based on the composition of a Pavlo Tychyna poem translated for Yara’s first production, A Light from the East… The centerpiece of the evening was a duma performed in the piano room on the bandura by Julian Kytasty and portrayed in dance by Katja Kolcio and Nicole Stanton. Finally, the guests found themselves back in the same room to listen to Askold Melnyczyk read a personal essay about his literary encounters with Norman Mailer and his forays into the world of writing…
On Saturday night, Yara invited its actors, musicians, and other collaborators from past shows. Notable moments included readings of Pavlo Tychyna poems from Light from the East and Japanese poems from Forest Song, read in English and Ukrainian translations. With their powerful harmonies, Buryat songs from Virtual Souls, Flight of the White Bird, and Circle were a highlight of the evening according to many. They were sung by Yara artists Cecilia Arana, Akiko Hiroshima, Allison Hiroto, Eleanor Lipat and Meredith Wright, who also read some of traditional Siberian poetry. One of Ukrainian pieces presented was a performance of “Symptoms of Poetry” by Oksana Zabuzhko from one of the workshops that Yara conducted at Harvard The show culminated with a performance by the band Debutante Hour...
On both nights, the Ukrainian Institute was embellished with art inspired by Yara. Andrea Odezynska’s “Three Kyrgyz Songs” was filmed during her travels to Kyrgyzstan. Margaret Morton’s photographs were a direct representation of her entrance into Kyrgyz culture during the Kyrgyz shows at La MaMa E.T.C. and on Yara’s adventures abroad. Andrea Wenglowskyj’s video was inspired by her own birth into Ukrainian culture and drew on a poem by early 20th century poet Vasyl Yeroshenko. Roman Hrab’s installation was stunning in its simple representation of Ludmyla Taran’s “India Ink…” The reception room was lined with Peter Hrycyk’s photographs representing Serhiy Zhadan’s poem “Honey.” Other works featured included Shu Kubo's Japanese paper cutting "Wheat Harvest," inspired by a traditional midwinter incantation from Koliada. Makoto Takeuchi's photographs of Watoku Ueno's productions Sundown and After the Rain, and Peter Ihnat's photographs from Song Tree with Mariana Sadovska and Gogol Bordello. Marko Shuhan's paintings and Anya Farion's sculpture also created vivid impressions.
A highlight of the night was the presentation of the Order of Princess Olga from the Consul of Ukraine for the work that Yara has done with Ukrainian translation and culture. Present during the award ceremony were Sean Eden and Shona Tucker, who worked in Kyiv on a performance based on Les Kurbas’s life. Shigeko Suga traveled to Kharkiv, to participate in Blind Sight about the poet Vasyl Yeroshenko and Lviv, for Yara’s Forest Song. Cecilia Arana sung with Nina Matvienko in Kyiv in 1995. Tom Lee performed at a theatre festival in Kyiv in 1996. Akiko Hiroshima sang Ivan Kupala songs in Ukraine in 2002. Wanda Phipps has been an avid translator of Ukrainian poetry since 1989. In order to emphasize the collaborative nature of this work, Virlana decided to accept the award from everyone at Yara.
To celebrate the evening and the award, culinary artist Olesia Lew created a cuisine from the Silk Road to the Carpathians, beginning with a toast of shypshynivka, vodka infused with rose hips. There was great reason to toast!

In Search of Expiation for Babel's Transgression: Yara is 20
reviewed by Valentyn Labunsky
Nova Hazeta, January 28, 2010

How can we understand other cultures without knowing other languages? This seems like an insolvable dilemma. But only to those who have never seen the amazing theatre pieces created by Yara Arts Group which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
On this occasion Virlana Tkacz, who founded Yara, and her artists presented a gala concert at the Ukrainian Institute that was remarkable as is everything that Virlana Tkacz does. When you walk into the hall before the concert even begins you know something absolutely extraordinary will take place. African drummers beat out rhythms on their unique drums. You understand them without translation. This is at the essence of Yara – the synthesis of many cultures of the world in forms that are comprehensible without language. Moreover, readings of Ukrainian poetry and prose simultaneously in Ukrainian and English by Virlana Tkacz and her actors achieve incredible effects, and the audience which doesn’t understand Ukrainian or English can feel the poetry of a language they do not comprehend through its phonetics, through its sound. But those who understand both languages have the unique opportunity to appreciate the melody of each language and how they convey the artistic text. The artistic experiments of Virlana Tkacz and her colleagues touch not only words, but song and music. Can you perform a song in English on the bandura with lyricism and authenticity? You can. The well-known bandurist Julian Kytasty proved this during the evening at the Ukrainian Institute…
Actors of various nationalities, Ukrainian, Afro-American, Chinese, Japanese, perform with Yara. They bring together the people of the world. They also create new forms of art through the synthesis of various cultures and world views. For this noble work, Virlana Tkacz, who heads Yara Arts Group, was awarded the Order of Princess Olha presented to her by the Consul of Ukraine Bohdan Movchan. Virlana, however, feels that the medal honors not only her work, but also the work of all the Yara artists…
If Virlana Tkacz did not exist in our community we would have to make her up. Life without her would be boring. In her shows, theatre pieces, concerts, installations lives a great creative essence, the always whirling human soul, searching for the new, experimenting, creating, changing everything around her, dispelling boredom and the primitivistic and filling our daily lives with meaning. Together with her you start being proud that you are a Human Being. "

For more pictures and information on Yara 20 Years of Theatre
Yara's book In a Different Light: A Bilingual Anthology of Ukrainian Literature Translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps as Performed by Yara Arts Group

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Photos on this page by Margaret Morton and Jonathan Slaff Copyright (c)2007 Yara Arts Group; all rights reserved.

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