During “This Side of the Curtain: Ukrainian Resistance in Uncertain Times,” held Feb. 20 in Memorial Chapel, speakers, musicians and dancers from Wesleyan and the local community — discussed current events in Ukraine, social reform, non-violent resistance, civic engagement, and social-environmental health through a panel discussion, keynote address and concert performance.
Mustafa Nayyem, a member of Ukrainian Parliament, Democratic Alliance and former investigative journalist, delivered the event’s keynote address.
Nayyem spoke in conversation with Yurko Didula (pictured at left), a Ukrainian activist and founder of Building Ukraine Together, and Dr. Daniel Hryhorczuk, professor emeritus of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and visiting professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. The panel discussed current events in Ukraine, social reform, non-violent resistance, civic engagement and social-environmental health.
Members of the audience were encouraged to comment and ask questions during the panel discussion.
Pictured from left are Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies; Yurko Didula; Mustafa Nayyem; Daniel Hryhorczuk; event moderator Olena Lennon of the University of New Haven; and event organizer Katja Kolcio. Kolcio is chair of the Dance Department, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies and associate professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies.
Since 2014, Kolcio has been working in Ukraine, leading workshops in somatics that address the immediate crisis and trauma of war and social upheaval, and foster civic engagement. She is a member of the 2018 Wesleyan University College of the Environment Think Tank “Confronting Disaster, A Lens on the Human-Environment Relationship.”
The panel discussion was followed by a ticketed concert featuring the premiere performance of “This Side of the Curtain.”
The multimedia work, directed by Kolcio, was performed by more than 40 musicians and dancers from Wesleyan and the surrounding community. (Photo by Perceptions Photography, Sandy Aldieri)
Kiara Benn ’20, Lauren Stock ’21, Iris Ridley ’20, Zachary Farnsworth ’21, Mo’ath Almahasneh ’21 and Arielle Schwartz ’19 perform during the concert.
Writer Naomi Williams ’19 presented a spoken word.
The Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble of Hartford, a Connecticut-based Ukrainian community chorus, performed an original composition by its conductor, Alexander Kuzma, based on poem “On Bald Mountain” by Vasyl Stus. Stus, a human rights activist and political prisoner from the Donetsk Region of Ukraine, died in the Soviet Gulag in 1985. Donetsk State University was renamed in honor of Stus in the late 2000s, but since the Russian invasion of Donetsk in 2014, Stus’s name has been removed from the campus.
Leslie Allison, a graduate student in music, sang an early Kievan chant.
Julian Kytasty, a renowned composer and World Music innovator performs on the traditional Ukrainian instrument, the bandura. Kytasty sang a XVII century ballad titled “The Song of Truth and Untruth,” a reflection on the epic struggle between truth and falsehood, both in ancient and in modern times.
The performance included photo footage featuring designs by Marcela Oteíza, assistant professor of theater.
The project was co-sponsored by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, the College of the Environment, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Dance Department, the Ukrainian Selfreliance New England Credit Union, and the Pylyshenko Foundation.
This project was made possible in part by a grant from Wesleyan University’s Creative Campus Initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New England Dance Fund, with generous support from the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation. Several Wesleyan faculty and students attended the panel and discussion. (Photos by Rich Marinelli)