News Column

'Take a deep breath and be open to the piece' [Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)]

July 6, 2013


U.S. premiere of 'Oasis' kicks off Bates Dance Festival

Astrid Riecken

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 23, 2012: Dancer and choreographer Nejla Y. Yatkin, left, and one of her six dancers, Korhan Basaran, rehearse for their upcoming show 'Oasis: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Middle East But Were Afraid To Dance' which will have its world premier at the Dance Place in Washington, D.C., March 24. In Oasis, the Princess Grace Choreography Fellow (awarded by the Princess Grace Foundation in New York City), explores the beauty as well as complexity of memory, migration, transformation, identity and multiculturalism through movement. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

Astrid Riecken

Dancer-choreographer Nejla Y. Yatkin, center, with NY2 Dance company members Karina Lesko, left, and Sevin Ceviker rehearse for their upcoming show "Oasis." Photograph by Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post.

LEWISTON -- The Bates Dance Festival enters its fourth decade this summer with the U.S. premiere of "Oasis" on July 12-13. It's an evening-length multimedia work based on an allegorical tale regarded as the Middle Eastern forerunner to "Romeo and Juliet."

Several other outstanding Main Stage performances are scheduled for coming weeks, including the virtuosic sophistication of Doug Varone and Dancers with his latest masterpiece, "Mouths Above Water;" the nuanced retrospective duet, "A History by Bebe Miller Company;" and the fascinating and innovative multimedia "Voyeur" by Bridgman | Packer Dance.

A few days ago, choreographer/dancer Nejla Yatkin talked about the year-long process of bring "Oasis" to the Festival. The work, which was commissioned by Bates College, features a score by Maine- based Persian composer Shamou.

She said "Oasis" employs mystical realism to weave a layered story through movement, poetic imagery, shadow play, humor and text. "Take a deep breath and be open to the piece," is her advice for the audience. She explained that "Oasis" holds a mirror to human experience and shows "how humanity lost its soul and how we now try to find ourselves."

Yatkin said, "I don't try to tell people what to do. I keep the question open for all humanity, not just the Muslim world." Seven dancers explore the beauty and complexity of memory, migration, transformation, identity and multiculturalism. It is presented in 55 units, she said, using some shadow animation. The work recently had its world premiere in Peru.

A free "show and tell" is offered at 7:30 p.m Tuesday, July 9, at Schaeffer Theater on the Bates campus. Yatkin said she will talk about the process and her style, and a section of "Oasis" will be performed. "Oasis" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. July 12 and 13, at the air-conditioned Schaeffer Theater, and it is advised that the production includes some adult content.

On July 18 and 20, Doug Varone and Dancers returns to the festival to celebrate its 25th anniversary with two new works, "Mouth Above Water" set to a haunting score by Julia Wolfe, and Varone's signature tour de force, "Rise," inspired by John Adams' score.

Bebe Miller Company performs July 26-27 , with a live performance accompanied by a digital-media installation that offers audiences a glimpse of the visual history and thematic journey that comprise Bebe Miller's creative path.

The Festival's Musician's Concert is scheduled for July 31, at the Franco-American Heritage Center. Bridgman | Packer Dance appears Aug. 2-3, at Schaeffer Theater with a unique approach to integrating video into dance. It combines dance with visual images evocative of famous paintings by Edward Hopper.

Laura Faure, direct of the Bates Dance Festival since 1988, said much of the photography in "Voyeur" was shot around Portland and will be familiar to local residents and recognizable as subjects in Hopper's paintings.

The stage presentations are just a part of the Bates Dance Festival which has earned world-wide recognition and acclaim. The Festival's Professional Program enrolls 190 participants, age 18 and older, who have a minimum of four years of current and continuous dance training.

There's also Young Dancer Workshops and a Youth Arts Program. Faure said the "show and tell" events a few days prior to each production are offered free to the public. The sessions "contextualize the performances," she said.

Tickets for the Main Stage performances at $25 for adults, $18 for seniors and $12 for students. The box office phone number is 786- 6161.

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