My Birthday with Virsky

Today is my birthday. Hurray! I didn’t get a cake with candles or a night on the town but I did get something way better. I got to dance in Virsky Studios and learn choreography from Berezianka and We are Ukraine. In my humble opinion, it was the best birthday ever. We walked into Virsky Studios like children walking into Disneyland. We took pictures of everything from the traveling cases to the framed picture of Pavlo Virsky. We met our instructor and learned that not only was she Myroslav Vantukh’s daughter but she was also “The Doll”. If you go on YouTube and search “Virsky’s Doll dance” you will watch her! We also met the composer of our Kuban music and jammed out to his improvisation on the accordion during breaks. At the beginning of our workshop we had the privilege to meet Vantukh himself! After four inspiring hours learning from the greats of Ukrainian dance it was our turn to perform. We performed with Serge Lifar Kyiv Municipal Ukrainian Dance Academy. I was able to watch their Hopak at the end and they are amazing! It’s hard to believe that we get the opportunity to perform with these very talented dancers. We are all sweaty, tired and inspired. It’s only the third day and this has been the trip of a lifetime. I can now tell my grandchildren that not only did I dance in Virsky Studios; I danced there on my birthday. Thank you Cheremosh for giving me the best birthday present any dancer could dream of.

– Emily Belke