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World Music-Theater piece employs traditional Buryat Mongolian music and throat-singing.
Yara Arts Group's twelfth premiere at La MaMa.
March 15 to 31, 2002
La MaMa E.T.C. 74A East Fourth Street, NYC

NEW YORK, February 21 -- In "Howling," the newest work by Yara Arts Group, Siberian legends are used to create a World Music-Theater piece about a woman who kills a wolf, only to be pursued by the pack and discover that she is, in fact, from the Wolf Clan. Virlana Tkacz directs.

"The production follows the Yara Arts Group style of dramatizing ancient myths with movement, world music, and songs sung in many languages. Last summer members of the troupe journeyed to Mongolia to record old Buryat songs and shaman rituals. "Howling" is based on wolf legends they heard. Music of the piece include traditional Buryat instruments and throat-singing, mixed with folkloric influences from other cultures. The cast includes five performers from Buryatia, three of them being Honored Artists of the Republic, and six New York members of Yara Arts Group.

"Howling" was created in rehearsals by director Virlana Tkacz, Buryat artists Sayan Zhambalov and Erzhena Zhambalov, and Yara artist Watoku Ueno with the ensemble. Music included arrangements by Erzhena Zhambalov of ancient melodies that Sayan Zhamablov and Virlana Tkacz recorded this past summer on a trip to Mongolia. Set, lights, and costumes were by Watoku Ueno, movement was by Katja Kolcio and video will be by Andrea Odezynska. The show will feature virtuoso instrumentals and throat singing by Battuvshin, and percussion by Yoshikata Shimada. The cast includes Yara artists Eunice Wong, Meredith Wright, Angela Lewis, Stephanie Summerville, and Anais Alexandra Tekerian, as well as Buryat artists Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov, Victor Zalsanov, and Dondok Dasheyev.

Director Virlana Tkacz heads the Yara Arts Group and has created eleven original theater pieces with the company, all of which had their American premieres at La MaMa. The set, lights and costumes are by Watoku Ueno, resident designer and founding member of Yara Arts GroupThe piece is multilingual but is easily accessible to English speaking audiences.

Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov have worked with Yara Arts Group since 1996. They live in the Buryat Republic in Siberia and are considered the premiere artists of their generation. They perform as the band "Uragsha" with Battuvshin, Victor Zalsanov and Dondoc Dasheyev. They have played traditional Buryat Music at the Museum of Natural History, the Knitting Factory, and to a sold-out auditorium at the World Music Institute for the last two years. Reviewing their work in "Circle" for Rhythm Magazine, Michal Shapiro wrote, "The next time someone tells you that the Yara Arts Group at La MaMa is putting on a show, go see it! It isn't often that one can enjoy such a satisfying evening of theatre perfectly fused with music. This is what good art is all about--exhilarating, uplifting and entertaining. And for the world music lover, it is a feast of gorgeous singing, authentic costuming and masterly instrumentals."

Yara Arts Group created "Circle" at La MaMa in the spring of 2000 as a World Music-Theater work with artists from the Buryat Republic in Siberia. The Village Voice called it "a stunningly beautiful work (that) rushes at your senses, makes your heart pound, and shakes your feelings loose." Backstage (Irene Backalenick) praised the intermingling of Buddhism and Shamanism, music and dance in this "haunting" work, citing its powerful singing and exciting staging and deeming the production a "rich, exotic experience that holds us in its thrall."

Founded in 1990, Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa, creates original pieces that explore timely issues rooted in the East through the diverse cultural perspectives of the group's members. Yara artists are of Asian, African, Eastern and Western European ethnic origin. They bring together poetry, song, historical materials and scientific texts, primarily from the East, to form what one critic described as "extended meditation on an idea." The company has created six pieces based on materials from Eastern Europe including: "A Light from the East," "Blind Sight," "Yara's Forest Song," and "Waterfall/Reflections." The New York Times (D.J.R. Bruckner) called this piece, developed with folk singer Nina Matvienko, "a theatrical enchantment given cohesion by choreographed movement and by music on a prodigal scale." Since 1996 Yara has created five more theater pieces with Buryat artists from Siberia.

Last Spring, the Buryat artists of this production sold out a concert at World Music Institute. Those artists, performing under the name Uragsha, will perform a concert of traditional Buryat Mongolian songs, music and throat-singing March 20 at La MaMa's La Galleria.

"Howling" was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Alliance for Resident Theatre of New York, Yara's numerous individual contributors and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Also see more pictures and reviews of Yara's Howling

Victor Zhalsanov and Eunice Wong in "Howling."

Meredith Wright as the storyteller.

Poetry about a wolf in "Howling."

The wolves scratch her.

The wolves hold her.

Sayan Zhambalov makes a ritual drawing.

Meredith Wright, Eunice Wong, and Erzhena Zhambalov during ritual.

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