- Last Updated: 10:39 AM, August 21, 2012
- Posted: 11:05 PM, August 20, 2012
NY2Dance, Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place; 212-279-4488. Through Sunday.
Nejla Yatkin has an appetite for dances with big ideas — sometimes more than she can digest. Born in Germany of Turkish parents, she’s a straightforward, somewhat old-fashioned choreographer, and her dances can seem like lectures — but interesting ones.
At last year’s Fringe Festival, Yatkin presented a piece about the Berlin Wall. This year, she’s widened her net to the whole Middle East.
“Oasis” is subtitled “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About the Middle East But Were Afraid To Dance.” This would actually take several weeks, but in 70 minutes, Yatkin paints a panorama of the diversity — and conundrums — of the region.
The work begins with a nearly naked couple in a lover’s duet — yet they are blindfolded. This flawed idyll turns into a chain of oppressed and oppressors. Three hooded men capture and abduct the male lover using ropes and a black veil. In the darkness, they bind and torture him, as a projection blandly explains the process of waterboarding.
But the victim becomes the oppressor and places his veil over a smaller man, turning him into his dancing boy. The way he covers and restrains the young man is both sensual and brutal, even more unsettling than the unalloyed violence of torture.
Two male-female couples at the sides mirror the scene, while the recorded narrative tells of a woman’s pregnancy and forced marriage. In the center, the lover sips tea using the young man as his table. When finally left alone, the boy, now outfitted with a mirrored belt and finger cymbals, dances a beautiful, swirling solo.
A tongue-in-cheek fashion show of women covered from head to toe in black follows, which segues into a meditation on women’s rights.
“Oasis” can be too didactic; the frequent film interludes of a young girl and her grandfather talking in parables are preachy. And after all the examination and discussion, the pure dance finale seems anticlimactic.
Still, like last year’s “Wallstories,” just when you think “Oasis” can’t work, Yatkin comes up with an image that ties everything together. With this kind of track record, maybe her next dance should be about the economy.