Atmosphere Dance camp in Kiev, Ukraine

From Berlin, my travel led far more east, to Atmosphere dance camp in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. I was a bit nervous traveling to this big eastern country by my self, but for no reason. The travel went smoothly and suddenly I found my self in the middle of Kievs city center. My cheap hostel was maybe the strangest most shabby place I have ever stayed, but at least I had a privat double room, with a shower. A big plus was that the hostel was placed right next to the sports palace, where the dance camp was situated. I was very curious of what this dance camp would be like, would I meet some new friends, would the dancing be hard or easy and what would the styles be like? I expected this week to be very different from Berlin, and also from what I normally do at home. More detailed choreography and more urban contemporary. 

The first day came, and I will say my expectations were met. It was even more different from what I imagined actually and a very big and interesting contrast to the workshop in Berlin. I would say the styles were more in urban hip hop land than what I thought, thus also even more challenging for me. It was also many participants, mostly from Ukraine, and some from Russia and Belarus. Luckily for me, most of the choreographers was international, so they spoke english. Thats also how I found my friends, while staying there. We were only a few people from other countries, who had to speak English, or be spoken English to, so we found each other the first day when we needed a translator, and became good friends quickly. The two girls I was there with the whole week was Hanako from Japan, currently based in Barcelona, Spain, and Viktoria from Slovakia. After some days we also met Hannah from Sweden and Anna from Estonia. 

Photo: Hanako Nakajima My two lovely new friends Victoria and Hanako.

Photo: Hanako Nakajima
My two lovely new friends Victoria and Hanako.

All of us ‘internationals‘: Hanako, Victoria, Anna, Hannah and me. I hope I’ll se you all again!

All of us ‘internationals‘: Hanako, Victoria, Anna, Hannah and me. I hope I’ll se you all again!

And oh how much I learned from being there! Not only because many of the styles were so different from what I’m used to, but there is a whole community I knew nothing about. This community it seems to me is much more in to watching dance videos on youtube and instagram then what I’m used to, maybe from known dance studios in LA or New York, and everyone knows everyone of these choreographers, and some of them are like superstars. At the dance camp they were very focused on filming small groups, the «best» three or five and also the choreographers by them selves. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of all that, but it was absolutely interesting to be a part of this kind of commercial dance community for a short while. It was also fun to take classes with so many different dancers in age and level. Many kids tok all the professional classes and just did their best, probably most excited for watching the amazing dancers from Ukraines «So you think you can dance». And there was teenagers aspiring to become dancers, curious of what we, the international and professional, did, which schools we’d gone to etc. I hope I was able to inspire some of those kids or teenagers with my own individuality and way of interpret those choreographies. 

Choreography - Cat Cogliandro at Atmosphere Dance Camp, Kiev, Ukraine. Here I am in the front. Cat really pushed me and I’m thankful for that. I’m not the best daring to stand in the front when I’m not 100% comfortable with the moves, but when will I ever be? As you can se, I really need to practice relaxing more in those “hiphop-ish” moves!

We danced in a big sports hall, with no mirrors, huge floor to roof windows and a small stage for the teachers in front. It was very hot also here, but it was ok in such a big hall. Some times it was so hot it became steamy in there, like there was a layer of mist over the whole area. The sports palace is located right next to the big football stadium, the olympic stadium, which was used under the European Football Championship in 2012.

The week consisted of five 1,5 hour classes a day, with a break on the Wednesday. I went to almost every one of the classes, except from the last three days when my boyfriend arrived and stayed with me for the last weekend. I hadn’t seen him for two weeks, so I was very happy to see him again, and also to show him the vibrating, cool and exotic city that Kiev is. So, the three last days became a bit amputated because I wanted to see as much as possible of Kiev, but I still got two or three classes, which I’m happy for. Daniele Sibilli (IT) for example, who was one of the choreographers I went there for in the first place, only had classes the last days, so I only got to take 1,5 classes with him because the classes was delayed and I had an appointment.. to take tattoos! Hopefully I get another opportunity to take classes with him, cause he is amaaazing! It was the last chance to take a tattoo there before we left, so we just had to take advantage of the opportunity. It costs much less than in Norway (off course, everything is very expensive here) and the tattoo artist was very talented and kind. He drew sketches for me when I couldn’t quite make up my mind the first day we were there, and I ended up choosing an abstract dance sketch that I absolutely adore. I have thought about taking a tattoo to represent movement and dance for over ten years now, and finally I have taken one that I love. It’s, to me, not cheesy and not too concrete, but a bit abstract and artsy and different and to some probably weird, just as I would like it to be. I’ll post a picture of it. The tattoo studio is named Yo space tattoo, and the tattoo artists name is Egor Strelkov, or 32_40_tattoo on instagram. I also took a random small and simpel flower, just because I felt like it :) 

My new little tattoo.

My new little tattoo.

On our day of we went out to Topone Dance Studio to check out a concept called contemporary duell. Oh hello how inspired I got by watching that! I have never been to urban dance battles before, but I imagine this was very similar to that, just with contemporary improv in sted. The dancers were so cool and talented, and the environment so friendly and chill. Everyone cheered for everyone, and they danced their asses off. We watched kids duells to, and it was the same here. Super talented and strong kids, daring to go out there in the circle and dance alone, showing off, and hugging it out with the one who didn’t make it to the next round. Of course the kids had a bit more focus on overly flexible backs and legs, but it amazed me how mature they seemed in their movement language overall. Also here there were dancers from So you think you can dance Ukraine, who appeared like hipster super stars, dressed like the new hipster rapers in Norway, who really seemed like good and inspiring role models for the kids. I must say I loved this concept, the warm and welcoming atmosphere and what a great arena this was to explore improvisation in contemporary dance, and making it more available for a different type of audience, highly entertaining and inspiring! Maybe I’ll dare to join if I ever go to Kiev again, or maybe I’ll one day work on putting up the concept in Norway, we’ll see about that.

Contemporary Dance Duel in Kiev at Topone Dance Studios. Please, if you know these dancers feel free to contact me so that I can name and credit them.

Other international choreographers we had was Cat Cogliandro (US), Stephen Aspinall (UK/NL), Jeremy Lepine (BE), Iker Karrera (ES), Anita Sawicka (PL) and Raymond Naval (US/ES). We also had a few Ukrainan choreographers who spoke Ukranian. I learnt a lot from every one of them, each with their different approach to, what I call, urban contemporary/ commercial contemporary. In some of the classes I was challenged because I felt weird and uncomfortable with the style, wether that it was much more hip hop ish than I’m used to or like hot and sexy, and I had to push myself trough it and try to get rid of some of those boundaries. In other classes I was challenged because it was a lot of smal detailed guests and moves and long choreographies in which I had to train my focus, memory and keeping my head cold my tongue in my mouth, as we say in Norway. I loved all these challenges, and I am certain that I came home with a brain that learn choreography a little bit faster than before and a body more adaptable to detailed moves. I’m gonna keep on practicing this cause I think they are necessary skills also in the contemporary dance world that I usually find myself in.

Dancers: Anna-Maria Laius, Lisa Ingrand Loustau, Ingrid S. Nyhus. Choreographer: Iker Karrera. Maybe I need a little practice dancing in front of a camera like this ;)

I will absolutely recommend Kiev as a city to travel to! It’s cheap, fun and different, and in my experience totally safe. A little side track tip; my boyfriend and I went to a marked a bit outside the city core. Such a cool experience! It’s named Lesnaya market and is located next to the Lisova metro station. The longer in there you get the more piles of second hand clothes appear. It may seem a bit shabby and dirty, but we found it very exotic and exciting and ended up with five bags of cool second hand clothes. There’s also a big food market there worth checking out. 

My boyfriend and I continued our journey after Kiev to Riga and Liepaja in Latvia, went back to Berlin and ended in Prague, Czech Republic. We had a very nice journey and it was good to get back home after a month of traveling. Next I will write about staying in Sunndalsøra, Norway for six weeks, for my first payed job as a dancer in a bigger production. Until then!