I first met performer/poet/dancer YaliniDream when I moved to New York three years ago. I was hunting for a profile subject for my Arts & Culture journalism seminar, and wanted to write about a Sri Lankan artist. A friend directed me to one of YaliniDream’s collaborators. I headed to a performance, thinking: wow, I live in a town where there are Sri Lankan/diasporic artists!
The performance was cool–and funny, and dark, and raw, touching upon issues related to the conflict in Sri Lanka. The combination of dance, music (particularly the exquisite, keening cello of Varuni Tiruchelvam), spoken word/poetry and visuals was deeply transporting and complex. Foolishly, I hadn’t expected a show–any show, really–to pull such an intense reaction from me. I left the show almost (okay, who am I kidding, actually) in tears at the power of what the performers had done, and their sheer bravery. (After all, I chose a profession where I spend most of my time alone in a room with a computer.)
While the blogosphere is a poor substitute for live performance (sorry, Internet, it’s true), here are some snippets.
This work seems newly relevant now, and YaliniDream has a slew of performances coming up—-New Yorkers can check her out this weekend (including tonight, in the Bronx), and on other upcoming dates (see website). (Keep reading for an audio clip with the cello.)Over the past three years, I’ve seen YaliniDream perform many times. One of the most interesting things about the performance is the way it rewards repeated viewing. While I find this generally true of theatre, YaliniDream keeps evolving in very particular ways—-parts of the show fall away, others change, and the new parts are created. She takes on new characters and new voices. One of my favorite pieces to see/listen to is called “To Catch Just One Tear.” That’s the piece in the video above. The music in the video differs from the way I originally heard it, when she was performing with Varuni.
The audio snippet, on her website (http://www.myspace.com/yalinidream) comes a bit closer to what I first heard. (Click the second link down in the player on the top right.)
I like YaliniDream’s work because of its bald courage. It pushes issues of sexuality and gender that are sometimes overlooked in conflict situations, and also conveys deep empathy for people from different walks of life. She’s often quite funny, but she doesn’t hesitate to touch on unbelievable pain, both in Sri Lanka and its diaspora.
I asked her how her work had changed over time—-she has been performing parts of this piece for several years–and she offered up that it had become more humorous as she had come to the realization that truth is not only “heart-wrenching” but also “hilarious.”
Ed: 6/19/2009 8:00 PM at BAAD!’s The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance’s Out Like That Festival 841 Barretto Street, Bronx, New York 10474 Cost: $15
Want to watch more YaliniDream? Look here.