Karyna Shatkovskaya reflects on her beginnings as a dance student, the mentor and legends that have inspired her, her favorite and most challenging roles, joining the NUTCRACKER! cast, and current events in Ukraine.
How old were you when you started to dance?
I went to ballet school at the age of 5. At the age of 8, I went on stage and danced small parts for children, and already at the age of 14, I was dancing classical variations. I performed the leading part for the first time at the age of 16 in the ballet "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs" at a ballet school. I have been working in the theater since the age of 17 and perform the main parts there in various ballets.
Did you have a mentor? Who? What is the best lesson you learned from them?
I had a wonderful teacher in ballet school, Zhanna Muradyan, who gave me an amazing foundation and a strong start. She taught me how to perform variations technically and delicately, and then in the theater, Irina Surneva became my tutor, who helped me develop and improve, developed artistry and stage literacy in me.
Were you inspired by a dance legend? Who and why?
I always admired Ekaterina Maksimova; her lightness, her agility, her technique... and somewhere I tried to copy her dance. There are many dancers whom I set as an example for myself and take something from each for myself, and even ballerinas of my generation such as Natalya Osipova, and Marianela Nunez impress me very much and I want to repeat some moments of their dance performance.
What is your favorite part to dance? Why?
What has been your most challenging role? How did you overcome the challenge to be successful?I love to dance lyrical parts. I really love Clara in The Nutcracker, because Pa De Deux music inspires and gives me goosebumps, and every time I dance this part I feel bliss. I love Julteta for her “youth” and for dramaturgy and of course, the groovy and daring Kitri in Don Quixote is also my party.
The role of Aegina in the ballet Spartacus directed by George Koftun was very difficult. There are a lot of acrobatic lifts, falls and technical movements that must be performed in the image of the most seductive courtesan of Rome. For me, it was a completely new experience and a new image, but I trained and rehearsed a lot, so when I went on stage I was sure that everything would work out!
What are your thoughts on joining the NUTCRACKER! cast?
I will never get tired of dancing in the ballet The Nutcracker! From year to year, I get pleasure by participating in this performance. Not one winter suits me without this wonderful performance!! I am very glad that this year I will again be able to take part in this “NUTCRACKER” staging of this ballet is a very realistic fairy tale that you want to live!
Name some notable opera house in which you have danced.
Do you have an inspirational story about current events that you would like to share?
A story that is connected with war and ballet? I would like to note that a lot of colleagues offered help, work, and support, and it was very nice, despite the fact that we only talked with some of them a couple of times in our lives. Completely unknown people gave me an apartment for free where I could hide from the war !! So I am extremely grateful to everyone for their help -- and the theater in which I work, he took care of our work and offered to go to Lithuania. So I ended up in Europe.
Where are you living now?
Now I don't have a specific place to live, I move around countries and cities. I lived for a month in Lithuania, then in Slovakia, now I will live in Italy for a month ... then it’s unknown ...
Do you have family in Kharkiv still?
Yes, my mother and my relatives stayed in Kharkiv. They don’t want to let go of their homes. There are explosions every day. I am very worried about them, but I can't persuade them to move to a safe place.
What has it been like being a dancer and performer during this war?
Very difficult and there was a fear of losing shape and mastery because when you're running from bombs you don't think where to train and keep in shape, you think how to save yourself. It was hard to imagine what would happen next, whether I could work in my profession, whether I could live in another country. After all, there was no desire to leave the house, this was a necessary measure. In those conditions where I hid from the war for the first two months, it was not possible to study, but I found a place in a small apartment to do at least gymnastics, and only two months later, when the fear and stress had already passed, I began to think about work and how to continue dancing.