Still the River Flows: a glimpse into winter rituals in a Carpathian villageis an installation that echoes the theme of the Ukrainian Museum's exhibition The Tree of Life, the Sun, the Goddess: Symbolic Motifs in Ukrainian Folk Art. Conceived by Virlana Tkacz and Watoku Ueno of the Yara Arts Group, the installation creates a glimpse into the Koliada, traditional winter rituals in a Carpathian village. The piece opened to the public on Sunday, December 11, 2005 at 2PM and will be on view through January 29, 2006. A series of short performances, vocal workshops and concerts will accompany Yara’s project. The first was a vocal workshop with Mariana Sadovska on Sunday December 4, 2005.The second was a concert “Koliada: From Medieval Epics to Modern Mosaics” by Bandura Downtown with Julian Kytasty, Mike Andrec, Natalia Honcharenko, Ruslana and Boyan Makarenko on Saturday, December 17, 2005.
Director Virlana Tkacz, set designer Watoku Ueno, filmmaker Andrea Odezynska, photographer Alexander Khantaev and poet-translator Wanda Phipps create a collaborative work presenting elements of the koliada, a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in its origin and symbols. For the last three years Yara artists have been documenting the koliada as it exists in the village of Kryvorivnia in the Carpathian Mountains of southwestern Ukraine, learning about the traditional rituals and listening to stories the villagers told.
The koliada songs are part of a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in its origin, traditions and symbolism. It is considered to be the most important event of the year in the area, since people believe that the spring and harvest will not come to the village unless these songs are sung in every household. A separate song, chosen specifically for that person by the leader of the singers, is sung to every member of the household, both living and recently deceased. The words are of ancient origin and exhibit traces of the worship of sun, ancestors and nature. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: what is said will be so. Their striking poetic images intend to secure the described qualities.
On the eve of the koliada, there is a ritual dinner of twelve dishes and specific customs that are adhered to. Last winter Yara’s new theatre piece at La MaMa, Koliada: Twelve Dishes, was based on this ritual and included traditional singers from the village of Kryvorivnia. In January 2003, Virlana Tkacz was accompanied to the Carpathians by photographer Alexander Khantaev. The photographs he took were on exhibit last January at La MaMa Galleria and are part of this exhibition. Also included are videos Andrea Odezynska created on the winter rituals in this village.
Yara Arts Group, a resident company at the world-renown La MaMa Experimental Theater creates original theatre pieces, art exhibits and music and poetry events that are rooted in the cultures of the East. Since the group was founded in 1990 its members have created sixteen original theatre productions that were collaborations with artists from Ukraine, Siberia and China.
Yara's first show In the Light, was about Les Kurbas and performed in Kyiv during the week Ukraine declared its independence in 1991. The workshop of Koliada took place in Kyiv last winter during the Orange Revolution. Yara has created a number of theatre 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 theatre pieces with Buryat artists from Siberia. In addition, Yara presents art, music and poetry events, conducts master classes and workshops.
For reviews and more photos see Still m
the River Flows
at the Ukrainian Museum
For reviews and photos of Yara's show see 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: email@example.com
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