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Lilia Pavlovsky as the Sun

Kayla Ankeny as the Moon

Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia

Time played by Kat Yew and
the Three Wise Men

Lilia Pavlovsky as Rachel is comforted
by angels Zoya and Kyrylo Pavlovsky

Nina Arianda as Death

Brandon Vance as the Devil

Antonina Ermolenko as the Avenging Angel

Svitanya Women's Vocal Ensemble

Dmytro Tafiychuk

Still the River Flows


Celebration of Winter Rituals
from the Carpathian Mountains

December 26-28, 2008
La MaMa ETC, New York City

created by Yara Arts Group
directed by Virlana Tkacz, designed by Watoku Ueno
costumes coordinated: Maria Vlasova,
music directed by Julian Kytasty,
traditional music: Mykhaylo Tafiychuk
script assembled by Virlana Tkacz, Alexandra Tkacz, Svitlana Matviyenko and Wanda Phipps
movement by Shigeko Suga,
stage managers: Livia Hill and Alexandra Myrna

with: Nina Arianda, Andres Carreno, Antonina Ermolenko, Inka Juslin, Kyrylo, Lilia, Taras and Zoya Pavlovsky; Alexandra, Roxolyana, Stefan and Zoya Shepko, Shigeko Suga, Nadia Tarnawsky, Brandon Vance, Kat Yew.
The Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia: Ivan, Mykola and Petro Zelenchuk, Dmytro and Mykhaylo Tafiychuk;
Svitanya Women’s Vocal Ensemble: Susan Anderson, Kayla Ankeny, Anne Erhart, Mary Kalyna, Chrissy Steele and Petia Zamfirova;
and Syzokryli Dancers: Artem Derkatch, Ksenya Hentisz and Vitaliy Simonian.


Village Voice December 24, 2008

Still the River Flows: Celebrations of Winter Rituals from the Carpathian Mountains is a special evening of music, song and puppetry that stems from an old Eastern European tradition now celebrated with Christmas. Expect to see an 18th century puppet play and songs about the birth of the world as singers perform ancient Hutsul koliadas (winter solstice songs.) A women’s a capella ensemble, Svitanya, sing alongside crooners from the village of Kryvorivnia in the Carpathians.

New York Press December 25, 2008

You’ll probably never make it to Kryvorivnia in the Carpathian Mountains. Thankfully, Kryvorivnia can come to you. Or at least a group of musicians from there can come to perform ancient winter solstice songs called the Koliada. There is also a nativity puppet play and an Eastern European Women’s Vocal Ensemble. Bottom Line: An ethnomusicologist's wet dream but also one of anyone who loves music, Eastern Europe, human voices, puppets and stuff.

The Villager December 24, 2008
This multidisciplinary event by Yara Arts Group features traditional winter songs and musicians from the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe. Sections of a nativity puppet play from the 18th century with traditional music arranged by Julian Kytasty is performed as well as solstice song from other countries sung by Svitanya, an Eastern European Women’s Vocal Ensemble. Singing the Koliada, the Tafiychuk family of musicians join singer from the village of Kryvorivnia in the Carpathians. The Koliada songs are part of a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in its origin, traditions and symbolism.

Time Out December 18, 2008
If you’re full up on tinsel but still long to make the solstice, join the Yara Arts Group for this celebration with traditional Carpathian singers and a Nativity puppet play that dates back to the 18th century.

by Ihor Slabicky
Ukrainian Weekly January 18, 2009
     Virlana Tkacz’s productions with the Yara Arts Group are always astounding and brilliantly executed. This year’s offering Still the River Flows was no exception. The three-act piece created by Ms Tkacz is based on the timeless Ukrainian Christmas traditions.
     The first act, “Cosmos” presented the Creation Story – when there was no world, nothing , except an endless expanse of water – as it is sung in the koliady. This featured Lilia Pavlovsky (as the Sun) with dancer Inka Juslin (as the Breath) and Kayla Ankeny (as the Moon).
     Act 2 was “Cave,” the “vertep” Nativity play that is usually presented with puppets. Here, Virlana Tkacz had the actors playing those roles Herod (played by Taras Pavlovsky) the Three Wise Men (who spoke three different languages), Rachel (Lilia Pavlovsky), the Angel Antonina Ermolenko), seductive Death (portrayed by Nina Arianda) and the Devil (Brandon Vance, who violin plays the deadly song that end Herod’s life). The chorus was directed by Julian Kytasty. All were serious and profound.
      The third act, “celebration,” was light-hearted entertainment to ease the solemnity of the second act. This allowed the performers to highlight their own talents. The third act began (or the second act finished) with Nadia Tarnawsky coming out of the wings, dressed in a smock, sweeping the stage with a huge broom, exclaiming: “That’s a wrap!” The first impression was that the piece had ended. Ms. Tarnawsky then took off her smock, revealing her beautiful folk costumes, and started singing “Mii Mylenki” (My Beloved), gracefully dancing with the broom, in a reveries over her loved one. As she danced off stage, Mykhailo Tafiychuk and Dmytro Tafiychuk came out and played traditional Hutsul fiddle tunes. Svitanya performed “Sadi Momo,” accompanying themselves on dumbek, guitar, tambura and gaida. Ms. Ermolenko sang “Kazala Meni Maty” (As Mother Told Me) with accompaniment by Mr. Vance on violin, and Ms. Juslin danced “Time Passes,” to name just a few.
      This they did against the background of a set designed by Watoku Ueno that imparted the dynamics of a river flowing through the snow-covered Carpathians, flowing through and around mountain and valleys, surrounded by birch trees.
     Several things truly impressed about this work by Ms. Tkacz. First was the sheer size of the cast. I counted 30 members on the stage for the final curtain call – all dressed in authentic and ornately detailed costumes. They were balanced by the minimalist set design. Most impressive was the fact that the cast members were performers of various ethnic backgrounds from all over the world. Although Yara Arts Group is based in New York City, for this piece Ms. Tkacz brought the Svitanya Women’s Ensemble from Philadelphia, Nadia Tarnawsky and Brandon Vance from Cleveland, the Shepko family from upstate New York and the Pavlovsky family from New Jersey. Inka Juslin is from Finland, Kat Yew is of Korean background, and of course, the Koliadnyky from Kryvorivnia, arrived from Ukraine. Ms Tkacz must be lauded for assembling such a talented ensemble and inspiring them to perform at their best.

by Helen Smindak
Ukrainian Weekly January 18, 2009
The multidisciplinary event was directed by Virlana Tkacz and designed by Watoku Ueno. Captivating visuals accompanied the singing of ancient Hutsul koliadas about the creation of the world, and sections of a Nativity puppet play from the 18th century were presented with traditional music arranged by Julian Kytasty. The Svitanya ensemble performed solstice songs from East European countries.

These events were made possible by Self-Reliance (NY) FCU, Trust for Mutual Understanding, public funds from New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour and Yara’s numerous friends and donors.


Koliada and Hutsul Music at the Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 7, 2008

Winter Sun: New Art and Tradition
at the Ukrainain Institute of America in New York December 19-21, 2008
Friday Dec 19 8PM Exhibit opening: works of contemporary artists
Saturday Dec 20 8PM Gala concert, readings by poets and new culinary interpretations of ritual food
Saturday afternoon December 20 Seminar & Workshop in Hutsul music and winter songs

Still the River Flows a theatrical celebration featuring Nativity puppets,
Carpathian musicians and winter song singers from around the world
at La MaMa Experimental Theatre New York Dec 26-28, 2008

About the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia

"In Search of the Hutsul Koliada of Kryvorivnia" by Virlana Tkacz

Koliada: Photographs by Alexander Khantaev at Spring Street Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY Dec 17, 2006 to Jan 5, 2007
Workshop in Winter Song Singing with Koliadnyky, Alexis Kochan and Julian Kytasty in New York Dec 16, 2006
Koliada on Fifth Avenue Art and Music Festival at Ukrainian Institute of America in New York December 15, 2006
Still the River Flows installation and concert Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, December 8-10, 2006
Koliadnyky in Concert at Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 3, 2006
Still the River Flows installation at Ukrainian Museum, reveiws and photographs December 11, 2005 - February 6, 2006
Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia in Concert at La MaMa Galleria March 16, 2005
Koliada: Winter Rituals photo exhibit and video installation at La MaMa Galleria January 15-23, 2005
Koliada: Twelve Dishes information
on theatre piece, reviews and photographs at La MaMa ETC March 4-20, 2005
Koliada theatre workshop at Les Kurbas National Theatre Center, Kyiv, Ukraine December 4-5, 2004

Photos on this page by Alexander Khantaev and Jonathan Slaff Copyright (c)2008

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