A recipient of numerous awards including Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation in New York in 2008, Nejla Yatkin began her journey as a choreographer after graduating from Die Etage, a Performing Arts Conservatory in Berlin, Germany. She then went on to perform as a principal dancer with various companies in Germany and United States.
Currently in the city as part of her project ‘Dancing around the World’, Nejla says, “I have been in the city for almost two weeks now. ‘Dancing around the World’ is a year-old project which started in April 2015. I have travelled to 15 countries till date, before finally setting foot in Hyderabad.”
Divulging more about her current project, she says, “Well, I stay in each country for a period of two weeks — with a local host; in Hyderabad it’s Pujita Krishna Jyoti, a Kuchipudi dancer who runs a dance studio in Sainikpuri — and give workshops to local dancers and participants.”
In Hyderabad, they noticed how the participants perform and how the city influences them, before finalising on how to go about teaching them.
Has she managed to take something from the city to add to her already extraordinary repertoire, we ask, “To be honest, it felt more like I was introducing contemporary dance here. So no real exchange was possible. However I must add that there is a lot of potential here.”
As a choreographer, one of her strengths is that she manages to give a philosophical connotation to her dance. “Whenever you go deeply into any art form, there is a transformation happening within your own self. When I share that transformation with my participants, they end up experiencing the same,” she says.
When quizzed if she tried inculcating Bollywood dance style into her contemporary style, she said, “I don’t think I will. While Bollywood is good and very colourful, I feel it has been overexposed. So we have tried to capture a more subtle India and tried to show moves which are another side of the city.”
Nejla will continue on her journey and be travelling to four other countries before finally heading back home to the United States. “We are planning to have a big launch where we will be inviting two dancers from each country to be trained and they will also perform alongside me,” she shares.
Enki Andrews is a multimedia interactive artist who travels along with Nejla Yatkin, filming her performances while also capturing the essence of every country they travel to as part of their project, ‘Dancing around the World’.
Having collaborated together for this project, the Chicago-based filmmaker takes aesthetic shots, while seamlessly blending it with the performances of Nejla and the local participants.
Talking about his maiden trip to India, Enki says, “The thing that is most exciting about this city is how it doesn’t stop. While I have heard several tales about India and its cities, to be actually in one and not just as a tourist is great.”
Sharing information about the elements he has tried to inculcate into the video, he says, “I attempt is to represent the people of the city, while also capturing site-specific performances, which people who are familiar with the city would recognise.” He has tried to combine landmark locations with performances. “I will be using quite a lot of cut’s with other things in the city, like traffic, art, flower or even cows.”
Divulging information on what else we can expect from the video, he says, “I have captured the quick flows of the sun-setting, time-lapses of the traffic in the city, and also the amazing view of the city atop a hill.”...