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Finding an ‘Oasis’ at Fringe Festival

Turkish choreographer bridges worlds with inspiration from Persian folk tale, ‘Layla and Majnoon.’

Every arts career starts somewhere -- and for 15 years, New York's International Fringe Festival has launched hundreds. This season's roster boasts a dozen dance events ranging from hip-hop and flamenco to a dance-opera based on the Tarot.

One of the most alluring might be Nejla Y. Yatkin's "Oasis: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Middle East but Were Afraid to Dance." Yatkin, 41, has Turkish parents; she grew up in Germany and lived in two worlds, shuttling between East and West. She speaks Turkish, German, English and French, and she knows Latin. She adds: "Now I'm studying Spanish on my iPhone!"

Her new work, 70 minutes long, tackles veiling, women's issues and education. "[It's] a Persian story, 'Layla and Majnoon,' like 'Romeo and Juliet.' I'm using that as a mystical place to start from." "Oasis" plays at Theater 80 in the East Village beginning Aug. 18.

"Majnoon means crazy; Layla stands for ethereal things like the moon. They love each other, but the guy is poor and the woman is rich; society doesn't let them come together. He winds up in the desert, blind and reciting beautiful poems for the rest of his life." Iranian composer Shamou is providing original music.

New York audiences, she says, "rarely see the complexity and diversity of the Middle East. The events of the Arab Spring inspired this piece, as I was inspired as a teenager by the fall of the Berlin Wall. How can democracy be successful if all the voices are not included, like those of women and gays?"

If you go



New York International Fringe Festival

Aug. 10-26

Various venues

$15-$18; 866-468-7619

www.fringenyc.org

 
 
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