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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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Kyiv Culture

`The Best` Dance Ballet

Sometimes a name says it all, such as in the case of `The Best, a local dance troupe thats risen to the top of their art. The group has wowed audiences in Ukraine and at dance festivals abroad and enlivened performances by such acts as Tartak, XS and NeAngely with dancing that reflects the groups insights into life, nature and spirituality.


Born in Chernihiv in 1999, The Best was the brainchild of Roman Ivantsok, whos also the producer of popular girl-trio XS and the Ukrainian RnB singer Nastya Kamyenskih. Ivantsok was first smitten with the dance world in the late 1980s, when hip-hop culture finally broke into Soviet society. Breakdancing, the athletic hip-hop dancing style born on the streets of the Bronx, turned the young Ukrainians head. He gave up his careers as a businessman and guitarist and decided to dedicate himself to the dance future. The rest is local show-business history. The group he started has performed not only with the above-mentioned acts, but also with UGO, `Queen$, opera singer Olena Hre-benyuk, `New`Z`Cool`, rapper Potap, international dance-music star In-Grid and leading clubland figure DJ Mendes. To keep the young talent flowing into their ranks, theyve opened their own dance schools in Kyiv, Chernihiv and Slavutych, where up to 600 students learn the art of dance either as a full-time calling or as a hobby. Such work is all part of trying to strengthen dance culture in Ukraine. Dancing in Ukraine isnt an easy route for many young people to think about taking, Ivant-sok says, since its very difficult to earn a living as a dancer here in comparison to Europe, where people appreciate the art and how hard a dancer works. When we performed in Spain in 2005-06 people even recognised us in the streets, which rarely happens in Ukraine. Ivantsok adds, You have to be hopelessly passionate about dance to choose it as a career in our country.

Such passionate people are exactly the sorts who make up the troupe: people who felt they could make an impact in a field that was important to them, and in their own way influence the future of dancing. Says Olga Rozhenko, the groups main choreographer, Were extremely dedicated to what were doing. We rehearse at least 3-4 hours a day apart from weekends, when were often performing. Our motivations are ultimately pretty simple: to make and be involved in good art. Its a matter of survival to learn how to function within the economic structure we all live in and to figure out how to get paid for what we do. Thats why were basically a commercial dance troupe, but were still set on having our own career, with a great show programme that we can tour with around the world. She adds, Its difficult to pull all that off, though, given the lack of money and of the sheer numbers of professional dancers you need to put on a good show. Although theyre usually considered a hip-hop dance troupe, The Best like to point out that that theyre actually fluent in a variety of different dance styles, which they meld together to create their own unique choreographic idiom. Given all the mixing and matching, its probably no surprise that the sort of dancing with which the group delights audiences is the exact opposite of the sort youll learn in a classical dance academy. But some elements of classical dance still pertain, like the art of building a narrative through human movement. Its not only a question of good choreography, Rozhenko says. Theres also always a story thats being told through the languages of dance and music while were performing. The combination of stimulating music, exhilarating movement and narrative will be on display 13 December, when The Best will perform at an rnb spectacular, featuring New`Z`Cool, Nastya Kamyenskih, Potap and others, organised by the Empire record label at Palace Sport. The troupe will open the concert, and do all the dancing that needs to be done.

Yulia Samus


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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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