The Other Witch
The Other Witch is a multi-media and multi-lingual dance performance featuring elements of contemporary dance, dance ritual, text, sound, and music. The dance solo is a haunting visual experience that alludes to the untamable aspects of Nature. The piece is inspired by and references Mary Wigman’s 1914 dance piece Hexentanz, but recreates itself anew. The Other Witch will premiere as a virtual solo film in three segments.
The dance work will premiere as a virtual solo piece in three segments. It will then be available to travel around the world to recreate itself again and again with a community of multigenerational women, through movement workshops and conversations. During the course of the workshops, new juxtapositions against the solo piece will be developed and may be incorporated into a new piece, co-mingling the solo with the many others to form a new, continually evolving dance conversation around otherness and connectedness, in the context of the powerful archetype of the witch.
Described by The New York Times as “a magician, telling tales and creating worlds” and “a fierce and supple performer,” Chicago-based choreographer Nejla Yatkin travels the globe inspiring empathic connections between people and their environments. She creates solos, choreographs ensemble dances for stages and sites, collaborates on plays and film/video projects, and educates young artists. Nejla hails from Germany; her artistic lineage enfolds European dance-theatre, American modern dance, African American modern dance, and numerous international influences. She is the recipient of awards from the Princess Grace Foundation, the National Performance Network, 3Arts, and the Baryshnikov Arts Center, among others.
“Exploring a rich movement tapestry of disembodied arms, legs and spine, Yatkin’s witch is at once human and arachnid, faceless, hatching, it would seem, from an egg of billowy fabric that serves simultaneously as set, prop and costume.
“The Other Witch” is a shadowy figure, always and foremost enigmatic and unpredictable, perhaps even dangerous. Who knows? Will she bite? Mask designer Anna Wooden’s black sequined mask is a full-skull helmet that conceals the witch’s human face in parts one and two and suggests a spider-like creature, while it is a distinctly human hand that emerges from the voluminous folds of fabric. Arms and hands unfold like independent animals, fingers groping, arms seeking prey almost plant-like entwining the space in the darkness. An eerie humming voice and percussion effects complement the undulation of isolated shoulders and torso, abstractions of spine. Is she laying eggs? Casting a spell? Seeking her prey? What is the mask and what does it conceal? Only in part three do we see the humanness of flowing hair and glimpses of a face, full body movement and an integration of forms coalescing into spinning, twirling, arching freedom and wholeness.
Yatkin, whose work delves deeply into the confluence of art and nature, created “The Other Witch” in part as a response to German expressionist dancer Mary Wigman’s solo 1935 work, “Hexentanz,” and in part as a statement of our times.”
– Lyn Colburn Shapiro