Friday August 12, 2011 - Nejla Yatkin's WALLSTORIES is performed at Dixon Place as part of the 2011 FringeNYC Festival. Some fifty years after the building of the Berlin Wall, this dancework has evolved from Ms. Yatkin's personal memories of living in Berlin as a teenager, her experiences of life in the 'walled' city, and her disbelief on hearing that The Wall had come down.
Creating a series of evocative images, Ms. Yatkin has fashioned WALLSTORIES in eleven scenes, commencing with a depiction of the kiss between Breznev and Honecker that was immortalized in a painting on The Wall - a kiss that seems to last an eternity. Above: dancers Shay Bares and Derek Crescenti.
From there, WALLSTORIES moves thru scenes of the despair, frustration and anger experienced by the citizens of Berlin living in the divided city with the Cold War casting its pall over everyday life. In portraying the human aspects of this particular time in history, Ms. Yatkin has the benefit of a distinctive troupe of dancers - all of whom are too young to recall the actual events. But the choreographer has instilled a sense of time and place in their work giving WALLSTORIES an edge of tension sometimes infused with unexpected tenderness.
The scenes flow in vivid succession, with music from the Pink Floyd album The Wall woven into the presentation of WALLSTORIES amid passages of spoken recollections of life in Berlin during the thirty years that The Wall divided the city. The announcement of the end of The Wall came on November 9, 1989 and on November 11, 1989 the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played the Bach cello suites amid the structure's crumbling ruins. Ms. Yatkin incorporates the Bach suites into WALLSTORIES, including the work's celebratory finale.
Throughout WALLSTORIES, the power and commitment of the dancers of Ms. Yatkin's company, NY2Dance, gave impetus to the choreographer's vision; each dancer makes a strong individual impression while as an ensemble their collective force is impressive. A sold-out audience viewed the performance in rapt silence and greeted the dancers and choreographer with cheers at the end. My evening came to a close dancing briefly with Ms. Yatkin.
Kokyat photographed the performance and here are some more of his images; click on individual photos to enlarge:
Shay Bares, with women of the ensemble
Sevin Ceviker, Fadi Khoury
Ahmaud Culver, Karina Lesko
Nejla Yatkin, Sevin Ceviker
Despite momentary technical glitches which should easily be remedied by the next performance, I felt that WALLSTORIES was among the best danceworks I've seen from New York-based choreographers in the past decade, holding company with works like Sydney Skybetter's HALCYON, Take Ueyama's LOVE STORIES and SALARYMAN, Robin Becker's INTO SUNLIGHT and Lydia Johnson's IN CONVERSATION and SUMMER HOUSE. I very much look forward to following Nejla Yatkin's work in future months.
Further performances of WALLSTORIES at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, are set for:
SAT 8/27 @ 4:00-4:55 PM
SUN 8/28 @ 4:15-5:10 PM
The dancers of NY2Dance are Ahmaud Culver, Shay Bares, Sevin Ceviker, Rachel Holmes, Fadi Khoury, Karina Lesko, Marissa Maislen, Derek Crescenti and Najla Yatkin.