BRAMA Theatre Events Workshops Translations Series Newsletter Calendar Store Yara Home

Marina Celander dances with the swallows
photo by Waldemart Klyuzko

Julian Kytasty created the music
map of the island where the epic journey began

the 2000 kilometer journey brought many deaths

The promised land seemed empty

The 20th century brought devestating events

Marina Celander with Maria Malmas
photo by Waldemart Klyuzko

Following the Milky Way
photo by Pavlo Terekhov


Following the Milky Way

the epic journey in search of a home of the last speakers of Old Swedish who today live in a village in southern Ukraine

created by Yara Arts Group

conceived & performed by Marina Celander
with music by Julian Kytasty

directed by Virlana Tkacz
set, lights & video by Ihor Shuhan
projections by Waldemart Klyuzko with assitance from Darien Fiorino

June 21-23, 2018, New York
La MaMa Great Jones

Following the Milky Way is a new theatre piece created by Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. It follows the epic journey of the last speakers of Gammalsvenska (Old Swedish) who today still live in a village in southern Ukraine. Following the Milky Way will be shown at La MaMa Great Jones June 21-23, 2018.

In the summer of 2015 Yara artists Marina Celander, Virlana Tkacz and Waldemart Klyuzko traveled to an isolated village on the banks of the Dnipro River called Gammalsvenskby (Old Swedish village). They were enchanted by the lush vegetation and the bounty of the land, but had come to meet the last speakers of Gammamsvenska. They could communicate because Marina was born in Malmo, Sweden, while Virlana & Waldemart both speak Ukrainian. They were hoping to hear a few songs and stories, but instead heard about an amazing, epic journey of displacement, migration, and search for home.

The ancestors of the villagers had come from Hiiumaa Island in the Baltic Sea, once a part of Sweden, but today part of Estonia. In the 1781-82 they had to walk over 2000 kilometer to southern Ukraine and many died on the way. They grew to love their new home, but dreamt of their Swedish homeland which many managed to visit in 1929. The wars and revolutions of the twentieth century devastated the community, resulting in multiple displacements and harrowing stories.

They met Elsa Kozenko, a frail 85 year old, born in Sweden during her parents’ brief visit to the homeland and returned with them to Ukraine when she was 10 months old. Anna Annas, is a somber woman in her 80’s whose grandson had just returned from the war in Donetsk Region. Maria Malmas, an exuberant 70 year old, sang many songs, complained about her legs and told chilling stories of being sent to labor camps in the Arctic Circle at the age of 6 and her long trek home.

Following the Milky Way is conceived and performed by Marina Celander, with Virlana Tkacz (director), Julian Kytasty (music) and Waldemart Klyuzko (visuals) with assistance from Ihor Shuhan and Darien Fiorino. Nadia Tatchyn is production manager.

Despite world events that disrupted their sanctuary on the Dnipro, forced them into labor camps and made them run as refugees, the people of Gammelsvensk, like the swallows who tell their tale, followed the Milky Way and created their own “home” in southern Ukraine.

YARA ARTS GROUP was established in 1990 and is a resident company at La MaMa, the acclaimed experimental theater in New York. Yara has created thirty three theatre pieces based on extensive research in Eastern Europe, Siberia and Asia, in Yara’s signature style of multilingual dialogue and songs supported by evocative visuals and documentation.

Following the Milky Way Yara was made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as the Self-Reliance Foundation and the numerous friends of Yara Arts Group. To reserve a seat write



MARINA CELANDER is a theatre artist, singer and dancer, living in NYC and performing both in dance and theatre nationally and internationally. Marina received the Pan Asian Rep's annual Red Socks Award "in appreciation of a deserving artist" in 2014. Marina performed her solo show Mermaid's Howl at the Stockholm Fringe Festival and was nominated for the Fringe Innovation in Performance Award. Marina has performed with Yara for the past 17 years in Ukraine and New York.

VIRLANA TKACZ is the artistic director of Yara Arts Group, a resident theatre company at La MaMa. She has created 30 original theatre pieces that have premiered at La MaMa and have been performed in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Bishkek, Ulan Ude, and Ulan Bator, as well as the villages of the Buryat Aga Region of Siberia and China. She translates with Wanda Phipps and received the NEA Translation Fellowship for her work on the poetry of Serhiy Zhadan.

JULIAN KYTASTY is one of the world's premier players of the bandura and the instrument's leading North American exponent. As a performer, recording artist, composer, and band leader, he has redefined the possibilities of his instrument. Since 1998, Julian Kytasty has worked with Yara Arts Group, creating music for productions and performing with the company in New York, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Julian Kytasty has composed music for theatre, puppet theatre, modern dance, and film, including an award-winning film score for the National Film Board of Canada documentary My Mother's Village. His playing was featured in The Guide, Ukraine's submission to the 2015 Academy Awards. His most recent solo CD is "Nights in Banduristan."

WALDEMART KLYUZKO (visuals) is a Kyiv artist and photographer. He has worked with Yara since 2010 and was nominated for a NY Innovative Theatre Award for Yara's Raven. He also created the projections for Yara's Dream Bridge, Midwinter Night, Fire Water Night, Capt. John Smith Goes to Ukraine, Underground Dreams, Winter Light, Hitting Bedrock and Dark Night Bright Stars. His art was exhibited in New York at La MaMa Galleria, the Ukrainian Museum, the Ukrainian Institute of America and the Bezpala-Brown Gallery in Toronto.

DARIEN FIORINO appeared in Yara's 1917-2017: Tychyna .Zhadan & the Dogs last June at La MaMa. He has been seen in Shakespeare's Cymbeline (Iachimo), Wilder's Our Town (George Gibbs) and Arcadia (Ezra Chater). Last year he attended American University in Washington DC and will be going to Cornell in the fall.

IHOR SHUHAN is a graduate of Bard College at Simon's Rock, where he majored in Theater Performance. He spent a semester abroad training at the London Dramatic Academy, in the United Kingdom. He appeared in Yara's "Where the Rivers Flow" in New York and Philadelphia this spring.


Return to contents

If you would like to be included on our mailing list
send us your name and full postal address

or write to:

Yara Arts Group
306 East 11th St., #3B
New York, NY 10003 USA

Phone: 212-475-6474

Top of page | Arts & Culture | Yara Homepage
(c)2018 Yara Arts Group; all rights reserved.
BRAMA Home -- UkraiNEWStand -- Community Press -- Calendar
Advertise on BRAMA -- Search BRAMA
Copyright © 1997-2011 BRAMA,, Inc. All Rights Reserved.