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Dancing Around The World


Dancing Around The World

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Dancing Around the World
is a worldwide performative  tour of various cities to explore the ways in which people interact with each other and move and mingle within a spectrum of global environments. During this yearlong endeavor, we engaged, connected, and collaborated with dancers, artists, citizens, visitors, centers, sites, and the environment. In this project Nejla and Enki will explore the five themes of geography long discussed in social science literature as well as long realized by observers of societal processes. These include: 1) location, 2) place, 3) human environmental interaction, 4) movement, 5) regions; all viewed through the prisms of dance and video.

The project traveled around the world from April 2015 to April 2016.

Dancing Around The World Documentary Short Film



Everything in life moves. The human body is designed to move and engage with the environment through movement. Throughout a lifetime of choreographing, teaching, and dancing I have learned how beneficial dance is to human development. Dance sharpens the senses, enhances social intelligence, challenges the body and mind and consequently reinvigorates our cognitive, physical and social development.

From April 2015 until April 2016 videographer Enki Andrews and I embarked on a journey of a lifetime. We traveled around the world starting in Chicago with a project I developed entitled "Dancing Around The World". During the travels I gave dance workshops, created site-specific dances, we interviewed people and observed and Enki documented human motion as well as collected information about what moves us as humans. The importance of this project was not only that I wanted to deeply understand why I create dances but also how it matters in everyday lives of people and in some cases how it even saves our lives in profound ways.

The project involved collaborating with dance communities in cities around the world to create site-specific dances with local dancers, filming them, interviewing artists about why they dance. Throughout the process we also edited and created short movies with my collaborator Enki Andrews to take our global community with us around the world.

Throughout the journey I taught local dancers from each city a movement process, in addition we engaged with US Embassies as well as German Embassies, exchanged with cultural institutions, Galleries, Dance Companies, Theater Companies and museums around the world. Our intention with this project is to create self-awareness & community via kinetic empathy by harnessing the inherent benefits of public site specific performances. We have visited 20 countries including Colombia, Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Finland, Germany, Turkey, Italy, France, Tunis, Kenya, Madagascar, India, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan and Australia. We finished the project in May of 2016 with a public performance in Washington, DC as well as Reston, Virginia.

Background Story: How Dancing Around the World Developed?

In 2007 Nejla Yatkin started creating dances in public spaces because she felt that, as an artist who was interested in freedom of movement and expression, she needed to make her art available to people from all walks of life and not just people who could afford to go to theaters and opera houses. The first project happened in Washington, DC. For several weeks Nejla and her dancers would go to Dupont Circle and dance in front of the public. The reaction of the people walking by was eye opening. During the second week she interviewed people who stopped to view the performances so she could get some insight into their experiences. Some of the people noted that the space had forever been changed for them. By placing dance unexpectedly in a public space, the location itself had been transformed in surprising ways.

Out of that experience many similar projects developed. She has since created dances in public spaces in New York, Berlin, Avignon, Istanbul, Tegucigalpa, Krasnoyarsk, Panama City, San Salvador, and Lima. From these small projects big questions arose: What is freedom of movement? How do we express ourselves in the world and what connects us as humans? Do we create the environment or does the environment create us? What is space? What is a place? How are we connected in a given space to people and what moves us?

Building on these disparate experiences and faceted questions, Dancing Around the World aims to engage and connect the people and cities where Nejla and collaborators will dance, growing the conversation and the questions beyond local borders and with content that is relevant to each site.