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  •  REVIEW: NEJLA YATKIN

      For People With Wings in Nejla Yatkin
      Photo by Quinn Batson
      For People With Wings
    Dark Passage through Life

    Nejla Yatkin seeks transcendence

    By SARAH CARLSON
    Offoffoff.com


    Nejla Yatkin is a striking physical presence. Her long limbs, lithe body, prominent cheekbones, and jet-black tresses are a feast for the eyes. She is a performer who would be a pleasure to watch regardless of the choreography, not a bad place to start for a solo artist.

    Originally from Germany and now based in D.C., Yatkin seeks to express the interconnection of spirits through an openness of mind that embraces all roads to transcendence. In a program note, she alludes to her lofty mission, which is also explicit in the names of her works. For People With Wings and Echoes of Hope for Those Still on the Ground compose a two-part, evening-length ode to finding oneness with creation, existential peace and fulfillment.

    NEJLA YATKIN
    Choreography by: Nejla Yatkin.
    Dancers: Nejla Yatkin.
     SCHEDULE
    Joyce Soho February 14-16, 2008

      
    Charcoal-colored crinoline reflects light like whispers of smoke or a shimmering mist. The fabric is tossed and draped to provide a mask and then a frame for Yatkin's mesmerizing isolations. Hands ripple delicately like the black feathers that have just descended from her amorphous core. A percussive discord accompanies the action, suggesting proceedings that are at once sacred, mysterious and risky. At last unveiled, she appears in her strapless gown to the gorgeous vocal stream of Evelyn Glennie's rendition of "La Wally" by Wilhelmina Fernandez. For a moment, Yatkin resembles Cher arriving at Lincoln Center in Moonstruck; both besotted by operatic splendor. For People With Wings assumes a mildly abstract, aesthetically intriguing sensibility. It unfolds its meaning gradually, just ahead of the mind's ability to predict its direction. Yatkin later emerges out of her dress like a rising phoenix. Mostly bare, she seems to revel in her embodiment. She is glorious in her flight; a soul exuding satisfaction, fully integrated into its realms both physical and spiritual.

      Echoes of Hope . . . in Nejla Yatkin
      Photo by Quinn Batson
      Echoes of Hope . . .
    Echoes of Hope for Those Still on the Ground is more prop-heavy and grounded. Shoulder blades wrestle in Yatkin's bare back. They yearn to extend beyond their confinement into, perhaps, wings. Yes, a pure white pair of wings is exactly what Yatkin later suspends center stage as if on display like a cross above an alter. Text rolls on the back wall, a poem about childhood, then adulthood, then old age. One by one, she takes on each stage of life and its lessons; discovery, disillusionment, acceptance. In the end, an umbrella showers feathers, white this time, in a shower of hope for future flight.

    Yatkin's artistry suffers from her tendency to spoon-feed her intent. In Echoes of Hope, she would do better to trust the power of the images she creates. Her props are evocative symbols that resonate profoundly apart from linear narrative. In keeping with her mission, Yatkin might consider letting her structure transcend the ordinary, to give the audience room to rise and meet her halfway and in doing so provide encouragement for those still on the ground.

    FEBRUARY 20, 2008
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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