Nejla Yatkin

Nejla Yatkin (performer) is originally from Berlin, Germany with Turkish roots and residing in Chicago. She brings a luminous and transcultural perspective to her work. While her choreography is never literal it nevertheless remains evocative of searing themes that resonate in universal human experience. Her focus is regularly drawn to the role of memory and history in constructing identity, causing conflict, and the possibility of transforming cultural tension into deep, authentic moments of human connection.

Her recent dances have been inspired by stories of events of significant places in the world. Such was the case with: The Berlin Wall Project or Oasis: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Middle East but Where Afraid To Dance, and Dancing with Cities,a moving site-specific work that investigates urban sites. The success and power of Cities inspired Dancing Around The World, which beginning in April 2015 will be traveling to 20 cities throughout the world and returning to the US in 2016.

Since 2000, Ms Yatkin has been choreographing solo works inspired by great female choreographers. To date, she has choreographed five evening-length solo works that have toured nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. In addition she choreographs for her own project-based company NY2Dance and on other companies such as the Washington Ballet, River North Dance Chicago and the Modern American Dance Company among many others.

She has been the recipient of four Artist Fellowship Awards for her Excellence Choreography from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and a three-time recipient of the Creative Performing Arts grant from the University of Maryland. Other awards include the Local Dance Commissioning Project by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, two Creation Funds and two performing Arts Residency tours from the National Performance Network.

For her past creations Ms. Yatkin has received five Metro D.C. Dance Awards, including two times the Outstanding Individual Performance, Best Scenic Design, Best Multi-Media Performance and Best Overall Production. In 2005, she was named as one of Top 25 To Watch by Dance Magazine and was given the award for Outstanding Emerging Artist by the D.C. Mayors Arts Award Committee. Since her Choreography Fellowship Award from the Princess Grace Foundation, she was also awarded a 2009 Special Project grant as well a Princess Grace Works in Process Award to be in residence at the Baryshnikov Art Center in 2015. Since moving to Chicago she has been awarded the 2012 3Arts Award and the Illinois Individual Project grant.

In addition to her commitment to choreography, she is also passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience with the next generation. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame from 2008 to 2012 and from 2001 to 2008 she was a tenured Professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Maryland. Ms Yatkin is also the subject of the upcoming documentary Where Women Don’t Dance to be release in 2015.