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contemporary artists, writers & performers react to the pagans

Yara's winter weekend festival, MALANKA featured the reactions of contemporary artists, writers and performers to pre-Christian winter rituals. The event took place over a three-day weekend January 26-28, 2001 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, that wonderful mansion on Fifth Avenue and 79th Street.

Last summer artists from Yara traveled through the villages of Ukraine asking people to sing Christmas carols. They were totally taken with the fantastical stories of some of the songs they heard. These were obviously very old winter songs that had nothing to do with the usual Christmas story. When Yara's director Virlana Tkacz, returned to New York, she translated some of her favorite winter songs and sent them to the artists who had previously participated in Yara winter festivals. During the summer she had also heard many stories about an ancient New Year Malanka, a wonderful carnival scene which has nothing to do with boring ballroom dancing. People dress as Malanka (a bride who does everything backwards) and Vasyl (her groom), a goat, a bear, a gypsy, a soldier, a judge and, of course, the devil. They do little simple scenes and sing Malanka songs. Yara's most recent theatre piece, Song Tree, created by artists from Yara, Ukraine and Gogol Bordello, was based on this tradition. Yaryna Turianska, the ethno-musicologist involved in the show, decided to share her research with various musicians who live in New York.

MALANKA a three-day festival of art, music and poetry

Friday Jan 26th - 8 PM the opening of the art exhibit and wine reception with music. Participating artists include: Ihor Bereza, Jason Eksuzian, Anya Farion Annette Friedman, Petro Hrycyk, Peter Ihnat, Alexandra Isaievych, Maria Lupo, Olga Maryschuk, Margaret Morton, Kateryna Nemyra, Algis Norvila, Andrea Odezynska, Carmen Pujols, Joel Schlemowitz, Zoriana Sokhatska, Youlia Tkatchouk and Tristan Wolski.

Saturday Jan 27th -- 8 PM special gala featuring a concert of winter songs by Alexis Kochan & Julian Kytasty; Yaryna Turianska, John Rublowsky, Oleh Ivanyschuk & Laura Biagi; Natalka Polovynka; Maryana Sadovska, Jina Oh & Akiko Hiroshima. A reception with a food installation by Olesia Lew and Stefa Charczenko will follow.

Sunday Jan 28th - 4 PM
a concert of new interpretations of ancient winter songs by Yaryna Turniaska, Odarka Polanska, David Depietro, Laura Biagi, Tristra Newyear, Ilya Temkin and the Experimental Bandura Trio, as well as readings of new poetry by Krystina Lucenko and Vasyl Makhno.

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In photos top: Yara's Jina Oh, Mariana Sadovska and Akiko Hiroshima.
Center: art by Anya Farion, Ihor Bereza and Kateryna Nemyra
Bottom: Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz, Alexander Kozachkoff and Piroshka
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