Award-winning and critically acclaimed choreographer is a recent 2018 Drama Desk Award nominee, a 3Arts Award fellow and a Princess Grace Choreography recipient. Nejla hails originally from Germany bringing a luminious and transcultural perspective to her creations. Her focus is regularly drawn to the role that memory and history serve in constructing identity, causing and resolving conflict and transforming cultural tensions into deep, authentic moments of human connections.
In 1993, Ms. Yatkin graduated from Die Etage a Performing Arts College in Berlin, Germany. Following this, she danced as a principal with numerous companies in Germany (Fountainhead Tanz Theater, Dance Butter Tokyo and Pyro Space Ballet [1992-1995]) as well as the United States (Cleo Parker Robinson [1996-1999] and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company [1999-2000]). She was critically acclaimed for her performance Stravinsky's Firebird as Firebird with the Denver Symphony under the direction of Marion Alstop and choreographed by Cleo Parker Robinson. During this time, Ms. Yatkin worked with such leading choreographers as Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomare, Anzu Furukawa, Katherine Dunham, Diane McIntyre and Ron Brown among many others.
Since 2000, Ms. Yatkin has been choreographing solo dances inspired by great female choreographers resulting in 5 evening length solo works that have toured nationally and internationally around the world to critical acclaim. In addition, she choreographs for her own project - based company NY2Dance and has been commissioned by noted dance companies including The Washington Ballet, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, The Maryland Dance Ensemble and the Baltimore Ballet, River North Dance Chicago, Leverage Dance Theater and Modern Dance Company. Her work has toured the world: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, El Salvador, England, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Santo Domingo, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United States and Yugoslavia. Additionally, it has been performed in some excellent venues. For example, as a Guest Choreographer with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company, her work was commissioned and presented at Lincoln Center Out of Doors (2001) as well as the Joyce Theater (2003). Other venues include Dance Place and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), The Place in London, England, Metropolitano in Medellin, Colombia and the Oscar Neumeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil among many others. The support for Ms. Yatkins work has been consistent as well as high-quality. Since 2001, Ms. Yatkin has been the recipient of three Artist Fellowships for her Excellence in Dance and Choreography from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency of the National Endowment for the Arts (2001, 2003, 2005), and a three-time recipient of the Creative Performing Arts grant from the University of Maryland (2003, 2005, 2008). In 2002, she was awarded Local Dance Commissioning Project by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
In 2005, Ms. Yatkin was the recipient of the Creation Fund from the National Performance Network, Dance Place and Miami Dade Community College in order to create a new solo work entitled De/Reconstructing Mata Hari. This won her critical claim in the New York Times and Washington Post and won her two Metro DC Dance Awards. Subsequently, the work toured in Maryland, Virginia, DC, New York, Florida and in three cities in Mexico as part of the International Festival of Tamaulipas. In the summer 2007, she was one of the choreographers selected to be part of Slow Dancing exhibition by David Michalek at the Lincoln Center Festival as well as featured in the silent movie Louis produced by Wynton Marsalis and directed by Dan Pritzker.
To date, the response to Ms. Yatkin's work has been uniformly positive. The opinion of her work is best summarized by Jennifer Dunning (of the New York Times): "(Ms. Yatkin) is a magician, telling tales and creating worlds with understated images and movement. (She) is after more than choreography. Thus far, Ms. Yatkin has received five Metro D.C. Dance Awards, she was named as one of Top 25 to watch by Dance Magazine and was given the award for Outstanding Emerging Artist by the D.C. Mayor Arts Award Committee. For her choreography, Ms. Yatkin was three times selected to be part of the adjudicated Maryland Choreographers Showcase (2001, 2003, 2005). For the work created for the Washington Ballet in 2008, she was a finalist for Best New Work in the Metro DC Dance Awards. In 2009 Wallstories choreographed by Nejla Yatkin was selected as Top 10 dances of 2009 in the Washington Post as well as awarded the Overall Excellence in Dance at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2011. For her recent choreographic commission for a Musical The Boy Who Dances On Air she was nominated for a 2018 Drama Desk Award and a Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography. Her short Documentary collaboration with Videographer Enki Andrews received the Silver Palm Award for Outstanding Short Documentary category from the Mexico International Film Festival.