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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Ukrainian Culture

The Dance Reality

Thanks to massive reality television hits like So You Think You Can Dance, dance, in its many forms, has had an international rebirth. Here in Ukraine, large portions of the population can be found B-bopping up and down Khreshchatyk all weekend, in dance studios improving their preferred technique, and on the floors of nearly every club in town, shaking their booty to whatever happens to be in the world TOP 40. There's a revival afoot!

Dancers and choreographers the world over have found new respect. Making television appearances, providing back-up for international popstars, and offering master classes, these men and women are making names for themselves here, there and everywhere. 
This weekend, Ukraine hosts the Contemporary Dance Festival, the first of its kind. Inviting some of the best in modern choreographers, contemporary dance master classes will be offered by Jason Beitel (US), Michele Oliva (Italy), Hugo Cortez (Brazil), Mandy Montanez (US), and Francesco Dario (US). Its going to be eight hours of non-stop sweat, blood and tears, at the end of which all featured dancers/choreographers will present a 1-hour performance. 

Michele Oliva
Michele moved to Rome to study various dance techniques at the very late age of 19. Dancing for Geri Halliwell and Kylie Minogue in the early 2000s, he was later assistant choreographer on popular Italian TV reality programme, Amici, and is now the artistic director for contemporary dance company, Pantarei.

What made you decide to pursue dance?
For the pleasure of dancing and the desire to communicate the art of dance in all its forms, movement, power and heart.

Tell us about your experience with Amici.
In Amici, I was assistant choreographer and professional dancer. This TV show is really popular in Italy and thanks to this, I became better known.

Francesco Dario
Ms Dario received her formal training at the Teatro la Scala in Milan, and various other schools throughout Italy. Having danced with Teatro Sociale di Rovigo, Compagnia Fabula Saltica, and Pantarei, she can now be found in New York with the Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

You also appeared in Amici. Tell us about that. 
Amici was a fun experience. After just one year, I was popular but still the same Francesca. 

You have done a fair bit of travelling, do you think its important to be an international face in dance terms?
Its important. Everything I see, every person I meet I take with me, like an image in my head. Everything I have learned I give back when I dance.

Jason Beitel
A professional dancer, model and choreographer, Jason has danced behind big names Kylie Minogue, Lilly Allen and Ida Corr. Getting started at the age of 14, he says he has always loved entertaining people. 

What was it like being a part of reality shows X-Factor, Britains Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance (Ukraine)?
Each one of them was very different, yet still very similar. Since they are all on live television, there is this excitement, as no one knows what will happen, but in the same breath so many things could go wrong. All of the shows move very quickly and things change quite frequently, so you need to be on your toes at all times. 

Tell us a little about your time here in Ukraine.
Ive been to Ukraine twice before. Once as choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance and another time as dancer with Kylie Minogue when she was a guest performer on X-Factor. Both times it was so incredibly cold!!! I was definitely not prepared. Unfortunately, I didnt have much time to see the city as I was working, but from what I saw I really liked it!

What are your thoughts of Ukrainian dancers?
They have a strong work ethic.
 
Mandy Montanez
Originally from the east coast of the US, Mandy started dancing at 11 years of age. Upon moving to London, she performed on So You Think You Can Dance (UK), has appeared on numerous TV shows, awards programmes, and music videos, and has been on Ukraines Star Factory as guest choreographer. 

Tell us about your experience with So You Think You Can Dance.
So You Think You Can Dance was an incredible experience one I will never forget. Not only was the show an amazing learning experience, but it gave me the confidence to believe in myself and actually appreciate the person and dancer I am today. 

How did you come to work with Star Factory Ukraine? 
I was invited to Star Factory when I was teaching for the Drive Dance Project in Kyiv. They asked if I would like to teach the contestants a dance class, which was lots of fun.

Youve done a lot of TV appearances, is there one that stands out? 
I have a couple of favourites. The first is when I danced for Florence and the Machine at the BRIT Awards, because it was an honour to share the stage with one of my idols. And the second was the closing ceremony of the London Olympics because of the sheer volume of viewers the atmosphere in the stadium was electric. 

Hugo Cortes
Born in Brazil, Hugo Cortes is a trained professional dancer in jazz, modern and contemporary. Moving to the UK and taking part in many a project, he recently auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance (UK). The judges were so impressed, they by-passed him through the choreography round and gave him a golden ticket straight to the last fourteen. Unfortunately, due to work permits, Hugo was unable to accept the contract and was released. Hell be here in Kyiv this weekend though!  

Contemporary Dance Festival
GolfStream 
1 September at 12.00
066-577-6464
Admission: 900hrv

And these five arent the only ones with success stories... 
It was a click that changed a lifetime just one click, in Ukraine, six years ago, on a YouTube video of Francisco Gomez. Up until that time, Francisco, or Sisco, had been mostly working as a choreographer and dancer, doing his stuff mainly in his home city of London. The email he got from Ukraine invited him not only to come over to a country hed never been, with a language he didnt know, but to try a fully-fledged new career. That career, as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance (UA), has seen him become one of the best-known faces on Ukrainian television, and kick-started a career that now sees him on air here, in Moscow, Los Angeles, as well as back in London.
We caught up with Sisco having dinner with a group of friends in a central Kyiv restaurant. Inviting us to join him, we are pleased to see hes already created a space for Whats On. Not that asking Sisco Gomez to move would be an issue anyone whos seen his YouTube clips, ranging from his dancing to Britney Spears Seal It With A Kiss to A Cause Des Garcon by Yelle can attest to the fact that this guy can indeed move!

Kyiv Beginnings
When I first came here, I had an assistant for everything. Those first three months, it was all new and a bit daunting, never mind that we are talking about Kyiv, we are talking about a Kyiv six years ago with very limited English signage and far fewer people who spoke English than today. However, even back then, I really liked it here, and today I can pretty much do what I wish, where I wish, by myself through a combination of there being more English speaking, and my having picked up some of the language!
When did you realise you had become so big here, we enquire? Well, there were a couple of times, firstly being in taxis which the police stopped, and the police looking at me saying, Okay, its Sisco Gomez, go! But at this years Kyiv Fashion Week, I really realised how many people knew me, knew what I did it was truly amazing! It means a lot to me, the Ukrainian public were the first to really know what I can do, accept me as I am.

Sisco on Ukraine 
On the topic of keeping in touch with his fans, Sisco is effusive. I use Twitter for that, and some days I can get 100 or more mentions or messages Ill reply to each and every one of them schedule permitting! Are you a different Sisco to, say, the one you are in London or LA, or have you used the opportunity of being in Ukraine to reinvent yourself? Well, thats the thing with me, Im the same in every place. The Sisco you see in London is the same Sisco you see in Kyiv! 
When it comes to Ukrainian TV, Sisco is enthusiastic: Its a fast-expanding market here. Theres a lot of talent and I think the CIS and beyond are really starting to take notice of what Ukraine is coming out with. As for the TV here, its very different to Britain, in terms of format and style. What Im looking to do is give Ukraine a taste of the best elements of British TV, while keeping its individuality. 
And as for a Sisco future? Id like to keep developing my career as an entertainer, move into music, also I have a clothing range Im planning to launch here Im full of ideas and plans for the future! Ukraine is a very free country, a place where its possible to do so many things, and Id like to take full advantage of the opportunities which exist here, its so exciting!
And with that positive parting shot, Sisco bounds up from the banquette, which could contain him no more, and off into the Kyiv night!  

So You Think You Can Dance Series 5 on STB
starts 31 August at 20.00

Lana Nicole & Graham Phillips

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  • When Walls Can Talk
  • Rights We Didnt Know We Had
  • The Path to Europe Begins Here...
  • Documenting Life
  • Head into 2014 Healthy

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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