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Yara at 25: Looking Back/Moving Forward
January 24 March 1, 2015
On January 24, 2015, The Ukrainian Museum and Yara Arts Group will open Yara at 25: Looking Back/Moving Forward, a museum exhibition that is both a retrospective of Yara's theatrical work and a look into the future.
The exhibition includes costumes, instruments, photographs, props and videos from Yara's productions at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, and from performances and research expeditions in Ukraine, Buryat Republic in Siberia, Kyrgyzstan, China and Japan. Yara artists will also create several live events in conjunction with the exhibition to celebrate this anniversary. The exhibition opens on Saturday January 24th at 7PM at The Ukrainian Museum, 222 East 6th Street in New York City. It continues through March 1.
Yara Arts Group is widely recognized for its innovative work to bridge culture, language, genre and time. Yara was born on February 25, 1990 when a group of New York artists creating an original theatre piece about Les Kurbas -- an experimental and influential theatre director in 1920s Kyiv -- decided to celebrate his birthday. The show A Light from the East incorporated the diaries of Kurbas with poetry and the dreams of the young Yara artists. It was developed at La MaMa Experimental Theatre and premiered in November 1990. The piece was created anew in Ukraine as In the Light, the first Ukrainian-American co-production and opened in 1991 at the Franko National Theatre in Kyiv the very week that the Soviet Union collapsed. Ellen Stewart, legendary La MaMa founder, joined the group in Kyiv and Yara became a resident company of La MaMa.
Since then Yara has presented a wide range of theatrical works, musical and literary events, workshops, art and photography exhibits and lectures, and has published six books, most recently "Still the River Flows: Winter Solstice and Christmas Rituals in a Carpathian Village," featuring the Hutsul Koliadnyky, who Yara first brought to the US in 2005. Over the years, Yara has developed a pool of actors, singers, musicians, poets and other artists from New York, Kyiv, Ulan Ude and Bishkek. In the constantly fluctuating world of theatre, Yara has been able to foster allegiance among a very diverse group of artists and provide them with opportunities to create and perform. Through these artists, Yara has developed an equally diverse audience base. For example, our involvement with Gogol Bordello developed ardent support for us among young ethno-music fans.
Yara's artistic family includes: Virlana Tkacz (Fulbright and NEA Fellow, award-winning director and translator), Watoku Ueno (NEA/TCG award-winning designer and Henry Hewes award nominee), Wanda Phipps (NYFA award-winning poet), Nina Matviyenko (legendary Ukrainian folk singer), Shona Tucker (Audelco award-winning actress), Eunice Wong (winner of the Helen Hayes Award), Mariana Sadovska (award-winning actress and singer), Andrea Odezynska (award-winning filmmaker), Julian Kytasty, renowned bandurist. Eugene Hutz and Gogol Bordello (popular Ethno-Avant-Garde band), as well as many other talented actors, singers and performers such as Kenzhegul Satybabieva and Ainura Kachkinbek-kyzy of Kyrgyzstan and Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov of Buryatia.
Yara Arts Group has been directed for 25 years by Virlana Tkacz, who was named Honored Artist of Ukraine in 2007 for her work, one of the few American-born artists to receive this distinction. Under her direction Yara has staged over thirty original theatre productions at La MaMa Experimental Theatre, Harvard Summer School and throughout Ukraine, Siberia, and Asia, as well as regularly holding festivals and events at the Ukrainian Institute and The Ukrainian Museum in New York. This retrospective exhibition and the related programs are a celebration of Yara's continued success in providing a forum for cross-cultural and cross-generational genre-bending arts.
A special concert Yara at 25 will take place on Friday January 30th at 7PM at the Ukrainian Museum. The evening will feature Yara actors performing poetry from the shows in their signature style, interweaving the original text with its translation, the two languages entering into dialogue with each other. Julian Kytasty, well-known bandurist and Musical Director of many Yara productions, will perform works from Yara's shows with other musicians. Wanda Phipps, poet and Yara's dramaturg, will read her own works.
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