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NEJLA YATKIN – Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2022


Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2022

Chicago-based choreographer, Nejla Yatkin, has been awarded the first Sybil Shearer Fellowship in the new Sybil Shearer Studio at Ragdale to be scheduled during spring 2022. During her residency, Nejla will develop a new piece entitled A Dance For A Time Being; a video and augmented reality dance project for 6 dancers over 60. The project celebrates and brings awareness to aging through an exploration of how our identity is shaped by place and community and how one’s sense of self evolves over a lifetime.

Yatkin writes, “Dancers’ bodies, like trees, accumulate wisdom and knowledge throughout years of training and living—a wealth that is overlooked because dance is popularly seen as an artform of youth. With this project, I intend to make the gains of age visible through the art of movement in public places.”

“A Dance For A Time Being explores the aging body and place; revealing the traces we leave behind in the spaces we move in. I will collaborate with 6 BIPOC dancers over 60 in 6 different neighborhoods in Chicago; including artists with Black, Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern and Indigenous identities who will dance at outdoor sites meaningful to them in their communities.

The work will explore how identity is shaped by place and community; how one’s sense of self evolves over a lifetime; and how we make meaning out of life’s joys, tragedies, and everyday moments by celebrating and bringing awareness to the aging body in motion.

The ability of AR technology to permanently place dance in public spaces, adding dance to the existing array of public art, has yet to be fully exploited; this project makes gains in that area while juxtaposing concepts of aging body/old with technology/new. In addition, while choreographers have explored the aging body in various ways, this project makes a special study of the relationship of a body to a place where it lives, arguing that a body is not separate from its environment. In Western society we like to hide aging—this project invites us to appreciate its creative potential.”