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  • Angela Allyn

Ouroboros at Links Hall

Part solo dance concert, part immersive ritual, part anthropological exposition, part autobiographical performance art,  Nejla Yatkin’s recent presentation at Links Hall makes for a sensory experience unlike the usual fare.   Audience members come into the space which has been converted to a kind of diaphanous tent and are greeted by Yatkin and offered a refreshing spray of rose water and a turkish delight sweet to start the evening.  A circle of silk covered chairs and decorative pillows is arranged for us visitors to her space and a large deposit of flower petals sits in the center of the floor.  Composer and drummer Shamou will play haunting rhythms on a doumbek drum and audience members will be brought into the circle to join the dance as participants in this shared experience. 

Ouroboros is the symbol of the snake or dragon devouring its own tail symbolizing the circle of life and the cycle of death and renewal. Natkin refers to the universality of snake dances and the infinity symbol as she traces her multi national history from Anatolia to Berlin and to the States, speaking multiple languages and capping the show with a sing along version of Peggy Lee’s iconic song “Is That All There Is?” 

Yatkin is a fascinating person and a compelling presence, long and angular and somewhat exotic with colored braids and a multi textured ethnic referencing costume by Katrin Schnabl that actually glows in black light.  Her movement style is sinuous and circular and her presentation is dramatic and somewhat glamorous.

The evening is an impressionistic series of sections that detail her ongoing concerns about sacred femininity, the power of dance, our connection to nature and our own natures.  There is also a section that deals with the shadow side of this, but overall the experience is optimistic and hopeful.  The series of sections eventually circles back on itself, reprising the opening gestures of this moment, this city, this land, bringing us to a close of the wide ranging contemplations and grounding us back into the Constellation space and sending us out into the night.  

The one note I had: I attended the night there was an ASL interpreter and she was in total darkness for a portion of the program rendering the interpretation invisible. It is essential for all presenters to think intentionally about accessibility and alter aspects of the presentation to keep these adaptations front and center to provide access.

Ouroboros was presented March 8 to 10, 2024  at Links Hall at Constellation, 3111 Western Avenue in Chicago.   For more information go to : 

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