Yuri Lane was born on a small island in Holland. His parents, a painter and a violinist, soon moved to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district to ride the 70’s counter-culture current. Raised in the Haight, Yuri learned rhythm by osmosis and began to breathe beats.
In the 80’s, Yuri started breakdancing and teaching moves at middle school parties. He discovered his true passion in a sixth grade math class where Yuri made sounds to compensate for his lack of skill in arithmetic. When his teacher ordered him to “turn off the radio,” Yuri knew that he was on to something.
Yuri spent his teenage years on stage at theaters like San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theater while attending high school at the San Francisco School of the Arts. After finishing a theater degree at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Yuri returned to San Francisco to pursue mime, improvisation and alternative theatrical forms. During the dot-com boom, Yuri found himself as “the geek” in several local and national commercials as well as in TV episodes.
As San Francisco’s boom went bust, Yuri returned to theater and began developing his one-man human beatbox musical, Soundtrack City. Yuri created Soundtrack City by performing one scene at a time at clubs, bars, coffee shops, and small theaters of San Francisco. The full-length production of Soundtrack City> debuted in November 2001, with runs in San Francisco and New York in 2002 and a run in Chicago in 2005. Soundtrack City chronicled the transformation of urban neighborhoods during gentrification.
With his partner Sharif Ezzat and his wife Rachel Havrelock, Yuri created “the coolly extraordinary” From Tel Aviv to Ramallah, a hip-hop play that tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.1 From Tel Aviv to Ramallah steers clear of ideology in order to show the daily lives of young people during the Second Intifada. From Tel Aviv to Ramallah had its world premiere at Theater J in Washington DC in 2003, where it was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best new play. The show enjoyed runs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore and Atlanta. It toured across the US at theaters, campuses, and peace events. International venues include Helsinki, London and Jerusalem.
Beatbox Harmonica is Yuri’s extraordinary talent, which the world began to experience with the birth of YouTube. In fall 2007, his beatbox harmonica video became the number one video on YouTube. This led to live beatbox performances at Google parties around the world, several commercials and the formation of a YouTube community bound by beatbox.
When the economic crash led to a slowdown in sponsored appearances, Yuri began work on MeTube, a personal journey through the world of YouTube celebrity that confronts issues of authenticity, originality, and self-image through beatbox and live video performance. MeTube premiered at the Chicago Humanities Festival in spring 2010. Yuri hopes to touch just a fraction of his 15 million (but who’s counting) YouTube fans with a live show in realtime.
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