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Winter Solstice Ritual from the Carpathian Mountains
Photographs by Alexander Khantaev

December 17, 2006 - January 5, 2007
Opening Reception: Sunday, December 17 4-6 PM
featuring Koliadnyky winter song singers from the Carpathians
Spring Street Gallery -- 110 Spring Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

On Sunday, December 17 at 4:00 PM the Spring Street Gallery and the Yara will open Koliada: Winter Solstice Rituals from the Carpathian Mountains, an exhibit of photographs by Alexander Khantaev. In January of 2003 Mr. Khantaev traveled with Yara’s director, Virlana Tkacz, to the village of Kryvorivnia in the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine, where for two weeks they documented the Koliada. The photographs exhibited are from this expedition.

Koliada is 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. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: “what is said -- will be so

The Koliadnyky, or winter song singer who came here especially from the Carpathians, will sing traditional koliadas at the opening reception.

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. Singing with him will be his brother Peter Zelenchuk and his son Mykola Zelenchuk who plays the trembita, a traditional twelve-foot long mountain horn. They will be accompanied by Dmytro Tafiychuk, a virtuoso traditional fiddler, as well as a master player of the volynka, bag pipes made of goat skin. Dmytro also took part in Yara’s project last year.

Alexander Khantaev was born in Irkutsk and lives in Ulan Ude, Siberia. His photographs have been shown in New York, Kyiv, Ulan Ude, Indiana University and form the core of the award winning book Shanar: Dedication of a Buryat Shaman in Siberia. His photos from the Koliada in Kryvorivnia are also on display in Kryvorivnia’s Cultural Center and have been shown at La MaMa Galleria in New York, RA Gallery in Kyiv and at the Ukrainian Museum in New York. This is his third exhibit in Saratoga Springs. The Open Space Gallery first exhibited his shows Shamans in Sibeira (2001)and Meetings in Mongolia (2002).

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. Since 2003, Yara has worked documenting the Koliada in the Carpathians. In addition, Yara presents art, stages music and poetry events, and conducts master classes and workshops. Last winter Yara artists created the art installation Still the River Flows for the Ukrainian Museum in New York City.

For information on Yara's event Koliadnyky in Concert at the Ukrainian Museum in New York Dec 3, 2006
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

Translation of a Koliada Song.
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Phone/Fax: 212-475-6474
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