The afternoon concert began with a scene from Yara’s play Koliada: Twelve Dishes, performed by Olga Shuhanthat introduced the Koliada ritual. The Koliadnyky then arrived to sing traditional Hutsul koliadas. Koliada songs are part of a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in origin and symbolism. It is considered to be the most important event of the year, since people believe that spring and the harvest will not come to the village unless these songs are sung in every household.
A separate winter song is sung to the household, both living and deceased. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: “what is said, will be so.”
Ivan Zelenchuk is lead singer and leader of the Koliadnyky. His father’s handwritten notebook of winter songs helped preserve this tradition in the village despite intense persecution under fifty years of Soviet rule in this area. Now in his fifties Ivan considers his involvement in the Koliada his personal mission. He met the members of Yara when they first visited the village in 2002. Afterwards he took part in Yara’s Koliada theatre productions in Kyiv in New York at La MaMa Theatre. Singing with him was his brother Peter Zelenchuk and his son Mykola Zelenchuk who plays the trembita, a traditional twelve- foot long mountain horn. They were accompanied by Dmytro Tafiychuk, a virtuoso traditional fiddler, as well as a master player of the duda, bag pipes made of goat skin. Dmytro also took part in Yara’s project last year. The Koliadnyky were joined by Yara artists Vira Slywotzky and Meredith Wright who sang several traditional Hutsul koliadas. Violinist Valerie Zhmud joined the Koliadnyky for several instrumental pieces.
Yara Arts Group is a resident company at the internationally acclaimed La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. The group has created eighteen original theatre pieces that celebrate the cultures of the East since 1990. Yara's first show, In the Light, was about Les Kurbas; it was performed in Kyiv during the week that Ukraine declared its independence in 1991. The workshop for Koliada, Yara's recent show, took place in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. Yara has created nine theater pieces with Ukrainian material, including Explosions (based on poetry and documentation about Chornobyl), Blind Sight (inspired by the work and travels to Japan of blind poet Vasyl Yeroshenko), Yara’s Forest Song (based on Lesia Ukrainka’s verse play), Waterfall/Reflections (with Nina Matvienko), Song Tree and Kupala (with Mariana Sadovksa), and Swan (based on Oleh Lysheha’s poetry). Since 1996, Yara has also worked on theater pieces with Buryat artists from Siberia. In addition, Yara presents art, stages music and poetry events, and conducts master classes and workshops. Last winter Yara artists created the installation Still the River Flows for the Ukrainian Museum.
For tickets and information call the Ukrainian Museum at (212) 228-0110.
For information on Yara's event Still the River Flows
in Philadelphia Dec 8-10, 2006
For information on Yara's event Koliada on Fifth Avenue at Ukrainian Insitute of America, Friday, Dec 15, 2006
For reviews and photos of Yara's installation Still the River Flows
at the Ukrainian Museum
For reviews and photos of Yara's show Koliada:Twelve Dishes at La MaMa
and Koliada:Twelve Dishes
Yara Arts Group
306 East 11th St., #3B
New York, NY 10003 USA
Email Virlana Tkacz at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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