In addition to my October 2015 colum in the Mill Woods Mosaic newspaper, here are more significant parts of my interview with Lidiya Zhuravlyova:
Who are you/what is the name of your artistic company, and what do you do?
I am a professional choreographer and Indian classical dancer. I am Lidiya Zhuravlyova, Director of Raagam, Taalam, Natyam Org, freelancer dancer, composer, and teacher living in Bangkok, Thailand. My homeland is Vinnytsya, Ukraine.
What does your artistic background & training consist of?
I started learning dance art since the age of 06. Until now I have learned 32 different dance styles professionally and graduated in 2009 at Municipal High Educational Institution “Vinnitsa College of Culture and Arts n.a. M.D. Leontovych” by profession “Choreography” and I have received qualification of an ensemble artist, teacher by Bachelor’s Degree and Masters. I also learned Indian classical dance forms in South India and North India for 7 years. I carry 20 years of experience in Fusion and Experimental Dance with in-depth research about choreography. I am currently learning Thai and Korean traditional dances. I have appeared with my dance group on Russia's Got Talent and Ukraine's Got Talent. I set a new world record in Kathak dance form by using proper start and end with 125 spins in 1 minute as well!
How do you present your work (what method of delivery)?
I present my work in unique style which consists of complicated choreography often using a fusion type of focus. I show in my dance not only devotional themes but even social issues such as child labour and education, sexual abuses and harassments, work place, home routine, girl-child trafficking, racism, etc.
Would you mind sharing your ethnic/cultural background with us?
I belong to Slavic ancient cultures; in the 20th century people recognize our culture as Ukrainian. Historical facts and myths as basis of national identity were first reflected in the literature of the Ukrainian baroque. In later times, the proto-Slavic origins of the Ukrainian people were ascribed to the settled branch of Scythians (500 B.C.E. –100 B.C.E. ) mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman historians. Recent theories connect origins of Ukrainian culture with the first Indo-European tribes of the Northern Black Sea region and with the Trypillya culture (4,000 B.C.E.) supported by plausible research.
I am from different culture but I fell in love with the ancient culture of India in my childhood. So I respect both cultures and even as per my research Slavic culture’s roots are from India as well. It helps me to learn more deep and to understand the beauty of cultures and arts of the world.
Has your ethnicity / culture affected your art in any way? If yes, how?
Yes. Being a foreigner from another culture when I tried to adopt the Indian tradition and tried to follow it people would ask me why I am not promoting my own culture and tradition? I said: if I found the roots from where exactly my culture came from, I can promote both in an ethical way. I have faced a few negative issues here in a third country, Thailand; I have faced racism, ignorance, criticism, I have been betrayed, and people sometimes pick on me because I am from other culture so how I can promote other cultures which do not belong to me... Some people use to say that i don’t know proper things about other cultures. I feel whatever knowledge I have received from my research and from my teachers I can express in a practical way...Of course, people have different opinions, and views. I'd like to share a recent experience: I was doing my research that brought forth an interesting issue. Around 250 years back in India for a certain time, people use to ban young artistic girls and women from perform in public places. At that time men use to learn indian traditional dance from gurus and perform female roles in dance by wearing female costumes. The reason this happened, was that in those days the traders, and business people who travelled from Europe and other countries to India used to fall in love with Indian women and some of those people would marry and take the women with them to their homeland, or, some people used women only for sexual pleasures and left them alone in India. So Indian societies created a strict custom introduced as 'Astavarshat bhavet Kanya' to protect girls from the foreigners. Often those girls who were married off at the age of 8 were not allowed to perform anywhere. Only the devadasis, ( female dancers inside the temples ), asthan nartakis ( female dancers in kingdoms inside palaces ) were allowed to perform. In that time many devadasis were also being pulled out from temples and forced into prostitution. For a half century mostly male dancers use to perform female roles in dance producctions.
Many people in the modern age don’t know about these issues. Once I published an article on social media related to this, but I faced criticism. I was blamed that I am posting wrong information. But, it was when I was in India itself that I came across this research; I have visited Universities and spoke to Scholars about these types of issues... They confirmed and showed me evidence. I face push-back, but I don't give up my fight to showcase my research. This is a small example of how a foreigner is so deeply doing a research on another culture...
How important is art in the lives of youth today?
Nowadays people see any art form as a business; but without art nothing can be possible. Even if we need to design a room we need to have an artistic view. Or we need to design a machine; it’s a state of art. I'd like to know that if without an artistic view can we design anything in this modern age? I don’t think so. Art is in our daily life: from the music to dance, from fashion to architecture. Even when a boy tries to propose a girl he tries to prepare himself in a very artistic manner to win the heart of a girl. Even in that we can see the beauty of expressions. The first kiss of mother for a new born baby, the feeling which mother and baby feel, no one can express more than them. It is a state of art in love and affection. I feel without arts there is no world. Even Einstein loved music. Arts make us fall in love, to create wonders of the world, and inspire us. Arts are very important but nowadays people are not giving much importance and priority towards arts.
Read my November Column in the Mill Woods Mosaic to see more about why we should make art!