Where Women Don’t Dance celebrates one woman’s strength and perseverance in her culture and career.
Choreographer Nejla Y. Yatkin’s family disapproves of her pursuit of a career in dance, a bold departure from custom in her culture. Hers is an inspiring story that translates beyond the personal.
In many ways, this documentary is a contribution to a more serious conversation about the ways women face restrictions in full expression near and far. In a time when politicians, business leaders, news outlets and more and more women are openly discussing how to deal with glass ceilings, achieve equal pay for equal work and find balance professionally, spiritually and personally at work and at home, we need to add to the discourse.
Who is Nejla Y. Yatkin?
Our film follows award-winning and critically-acclaimed choreographer and performer Nejla Y. Yatkin while on tour with her dance company in Central America. Throughout the trip, Nejla opens up about her personal passion for dance and the conflicts it has posed within her family and community.
Born to Turkish parents in Berlin, Nejla and her family were expected to honor their roots and culture through their everyday actions. Encouraged by her parents, she studied Turkish folk dance at a very young age. Folk dance was a way for her to connect to her heritage. They didn’t realize it was also an entryway into the wider dance world – a realm where she learned to truly express herself.
At the age of 14, Nejla started studying with two dance teachers from New York City. They changed her life as they introduced her to new ways of moving. But contemporary styles of dance would not be received well by her parents, and performance was out of the question. It is considered a sin in her culture for women to dance in public. Nejla continued to study and was forced to hide this part of her training and her life from everyone she knew.