OBO: OUR SHAMANISM
This new World Music Theatre piece by Yara Arts Group employs traditional Buryat Mongolian music and throat singing. Yara's eleventh premiere at La MaMa, is directed by Virlana Tkacz. It plays March 15 to April 1, 20001 at La MaMa E.T.C. Th-Sat at 8:00 pm, Sun at 3:30 pm and 8:00 pm, $15/tdf Box Office (212) 475-7710.
NEW YORK, February 21 -- Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa, creates new World Music-Theater pieces by combining stunning singing, breath-taking design and the oldest folk sources imaginable. Last summer they to journeyed to the Buryat Aginsk region of Siberia to record shaman rituals. "Obo: Our Shamanism" was born from this experience. The piece, directed by Virlana Tkacz, features documentary footage of a shaman ritual from Buryatia, meditations on what the artists experienced and traditional Buryat Mongolian music, folk song and throat singing.
"Obo: Our Shamanism" was created in rehearsals by director Virlana Tkacz, Buryat artists Sayan Zhambalov and Erzhena Zhambalov, Mariana Sadovska, Battuvshin and Badmahanda Aiusheyeva. The piece will be based on music and rituals the artists observed and recorded last summer in Siberia. Music will be by Erzhena Zhambalov with additional songs by Mariana Sadovska. Set and lights will be by Watoku Ueno and video will be by Andrea Odezynska. The show will feature the soaring vocals of Badmahanda and Mariana Sadovska, as well as virtuoso instrumentals and throat singing by Battuvshin and Sayan Zhambalov.
"Obo: Our Shamanism" was preceded in December, 2000 by Yara's "Song Tree," a work that was born of the troupe's field research in Ukraine last summer. In that production, spirits of ancient myths descended on a woman who had buried herself in work and science. It contained music based on beautiful polyphonic women's songs that Yara members recorded in the villages of Poltava. Director Virlana Tkacz heads the Yara Arts Group and has created ten original theater pieces with the company, all of which had their American premieres at La MaMa. Video is by Andrea Odezynska, whose film, "Dora Was Dysfunctional," won awards at the Hamptons Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival and was an Academy Awards Short Subject Finalist. The set and lights are by Watoku Ueno, resident designer and founding member of Yara Arts Group. The 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 and Badmahanda Aiusheyeva. 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 last spring. 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. "
Maryana Sadovska worked with Yara on the group's first project in Ukraine, titled "In the Light." For the last ten years she has worked at the Gardzienice Center for Theatre Practices in Poland as actor and musical director. She has appeared in that theater's productions of "The Life of Protopope Awwakum," "Carmina Burana" and "Metamorphosis or The Golden Ass," which she co-created using ancient Greek music. Last month she appeared in "Metamorphosis" production at La MaMa. In December she appeared in Yara's "Song Tree" which she helped to create at La MaMa.
Last spring, Yara created "Circle" at La MaMa, an exhilarating 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 rich singing and exciting staging and deeming the production a "rich, exotic experience that holds us in its thrall."
Founded in 1990, Yara Arts Group 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 four more theater pieces with Buryat artists from Siberia. Last Spring, the Buryat artists of this production sold out a concert at World Music Institute.
The show will be accompanied by a photo exhibit, "Portraits of Siberian Shamans," featuring works by Siberian photographer Alexander Khantaev, who accompanied Yara on trips to record the Shamans. The exhibit will be open March 21 to April 1 at La MaMa La Galleria, 6 East First Street. Hours are Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 pm. There is no admission charge. The artist's reception will 6:00-9:00 pm Wednesday March 21.
"Obo: Our Shamanism" was made possible, in part, by Yara's numerous individual contributors and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Challenge Program and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information check the calendar on Yara's website at www.brama.com/yara/. For four years, Yara Arts Group, a resident company
Shaman Bayir Rinchinov decorates a ritual birch Photo by Alexander Khantaev
Shamaness Dulma-avre talks with her drum.
Photo by Alexander Khantaev
The crown of horns a shaman wears as he talks to the spirits.
Photo by Alexander Khataev
Yara Arts Group
306 East 11th St., #3B
New York, NY 10003 USA
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