Mariana Sadovska has worked all her life in both music and theater. Born in 1972 in the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, she was trained as a classical pianist as a young girl at the Lviv Conservatory. In her late teens she joined Lviv’s Les Kurbas Theatre, one of Ukraine’s leading theater companies, known for its intensively physical performance style coupled with rich vocal work.
From 1991 to 2001 Mariana worked as a principal actor, composer, and music director with the Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices in Poland, directed by Vladimierz Staniewski. Gardzienice has received worldwide acclaim for its virtuoso “anthropological-experimental” performances rooted in rugged fieldwork in isolated rural areas of the world. Like Les Kurbas’, Gardzienice’s work is a thrilling combination of physical theater coupled with ecstatic vocal ensemble work. Their productions are the result of "expeditions" to places where traditional culture is still preserved today. With Gardzienice, Mariana traveled throughout Eastern and Western Europe as well as to Brazil, Egypt, Japan, and the United States, appearing in the company’s productions of The Life of Protopope Awwakum, Carmina Burana and most recently Metamorfozy, which she co-created with composer Maciej Rychly, using relics of ancient Greek music. In 1998, for her role in Metamorfozy she won the “Best Actress Award” given by the Polish Theatre Union. As the musical director of the Gardzienice Theatre, Ms. Sadovska has conducted numerous workshops at colleges, universities and arts centers around the world, including one with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, UK.
Since the fall of 1999, Mariana has appeared as a collaborating artist in three Yara Arts Group festivals at La Mama Experimental Theater in New York. She first worked with Yara's director, Virlana Tkacz, on an international project in Ukraine in 1991, titled In the Light. As Yara’s Artist-in-Residence in the 2000-2001 season, she created the music for Song Tree (2000), Kupala (2001/2002), and Obo: Our Shamanism (2001) and also performed in these pieces. At La Mama, Ms. Sadovska also conducted special workshops on Ukrainian traditional calling songs, winter songs, spring songs and late spring songs. In addition, she performed as a soloist at the Golden Festival and Balkan Cabaret in New York City.
In 2003, Mariana composed the music for the production of Bogoslaw Schaeffer’s Qwartet, directed by Andre Erlen at Forum Freies Theater in Dusseldorf. Her current projects touring internationally include Callings and In the Beginning There Was a Song, both duet performances with the Israeli experimental vocalist Victoria Hanna; and the multimedia Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors with Poland’s Quartet Jorgi and the Berlin-based filmmaker Hiroko Tanahashi. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors toured the US in February, March, and April 2004.
For the past thirteen summers, Mariana Sadovska has traveled to villages in the Poltava, Polissia, Hutsul, and Lemko regions of Ukraine to collect folk songs and rituals. In each village she has cultivated deep relationships with elder culture-bearers whose lives, songs, and stories have inspired much of her recent work. In 1993 she organized a large expedition to Ukraine with an international group of artists, musicians and researchers.
From November to December 2001, Mariana helped organize the second annual Festival "Ukraine-Poland-Europe" at the Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices, for which she brought village singers together with artists working on the cutting edge of contemporary performance practice.
Altmaster (Poland) recorded Mariana Sadovska’s vocal work for Gardzienice’s Metamorfozy in 2000. In June 2001, Global Village Music USA released Songs I Learned in Ukraine, a CD of her modern interpretations of favorite songs gathered
from her Ukrainian village expeditions. Later that year, in collaboration with Radio Lublin (Poland), Yara Arts Group (USA), UNESCO, and other international sponsors, she produced Song Tree, a collection of polyphonic folk songs sung by village elders from Polissia and Poltava.
Mariana Sadovska believes in music as a “living dialogue” between the performer and the listener. She says: “I do not sing songs I found in books. Each song I sing was given to me by a specific woman. I heard the story of the song... I learned the way it should be sung and then I understood that a song can be the map which leads you to your life.”
Creating her own innovative compositions and arrangements in dialogue with ancient traditions, Mariana Sadovska approaches each piece with a fresh and uniquely personal vision. In a 2001 review of her solo show Enchantment Songs, New York Times critic Ben Ratliff wrote: "Sometimes a musician has such an inborn desire to communicate that her message naturally becomes universal: it doesn’t matter whether she is singing soul or bel canto or folk. The responsibilities, protocol, and tradition of whatever style she is working in just vanish; she replaces them with pure vitality."