Performing arts: Nejla Yatkin, Kris Kristofferson, Carlos Perez

NY2DANCE: Nejla Yatkin in "Journey to the One, a Tango," part of her company's program at Dance Place over the weekend.
NY2DANCE: Nejla Yatkin in "Journey to the One, a Tango," part of her company's program at Dance Place over the weekend. (Lois Greenfield)
Monday, November 15, 2010

To watch Nejla Yatkin dance is to wonder where the Western world ever got the idea that female dancers should look like waifs. Yatkin's six-foot frame and abs of steel shouldn't be such a rarity onstage. Yet what makes the Turkish-German choreographer so impressive isn't height alone, but that she's in fuller command of her body than most dancers who stand inches shorter.

Yatkin's company, NY2Dance, presented a triple-bill program at Dance Place on Saturday. The curtain came up with the choreographer kneeling prostrate in a pool of feathers and black tulle. To a flutter of percussive music and then an aria by Catalani, Yatkin manipulated her long arms as if one sinew stretched from shoulder to fingertip. It seemed like five minutes before she stood, gradually shedding layers to reveal the strongest legs in modern dance.

Yatkin is not an easy soloist to follow, but her nine dancers did in "Journey to the One, a Tango." Good, innovative choreographers attract skilled dancers who are willing to try anything, and that about sums up this troupe. Yatkin, a former District-area resident, now holds a Princess Grace Choreography fellowship. She's got resources, and she deserves them.

The program concluded with a reprise of "Wallstories," one of the best new works to premiere in Washington last year. Set to Pink Floyd's "The Wall," the suite is a perfect conduit for Cold War reverie, seamlessly blending movement, spoken word and projections of spray-painted concrete.

At times, it's tough to see Yatkin the soloist in her own ensemble work. But then comes "Is there anybody out there?," in which three male dancers hold one woman aloft as her arms sweep the cinderblock walls at the rear of the theater. She's dancing, but her feet never touch the ground.

-- Rebecca J. Ritzel


Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson is in no hurry, but he doesn't like to waste time. At the Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday night he marched onstage in his customary regalia of black shirt, black jeans and black boots at 8 p.m., exactly on time, and launched into a generous 30-song solo acoustic revue of his bone-deep body of work.

A hardy 74, he moved lightly from one coiled, economical story-song to the next -- punctuating each tune with an abrupt "Thank you!" or better still, "True story!" rather than allowing the last note to hang in the air, as it can, within Strathmore's sound-abetting walls.

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