Australia is becoming a diverse & multicultural society however geographically we are still very isolated. Can we compete on the international stage? Will we continue to meet the challenges of an international career & what is demanded from us at auditions?
Dancelife recently spoke with Artem Gorbal, a 27 year old dancer from Nikolaev, Ukraine. Artem lives in Paris & is contracted with the Moulin Rogue. He gives us an insight into his dance education & discusses the importance of being multi-skilled.
At what age did you start dancing?
I started when I was 4 at my mothers dance school – Solnishko (which means “Sun”)
Your training?
I started with classical classes & learnt the basics of classical dance.
I then progressed into learning character dances from other regions – Russian, Polish, Georgian, Romanian, Moldavian etc. We trained a lot in Ukrainian dance – which has 14 different region/styles that reflect the area and people of our country.
I went to Dance College at 15yrs for 4 years. We did normal school subjects plus dance classes everyday. 8am-5pm, starting with ballet in the morning (St Petersburg Ballet School system, Ballroom & modern jazz)
I trained under Olga Gorbal – my mother, Svetlana Shishkova, folk dance company teacher and Mikhail Mirlanov – head of Dance College and Ukrainian dance specialist.
Outline your dancing career.
After College I went to the University of National Art and Culture. I studied by correspondence as I had been offered a job at the National Folk Dance Company of Pavel Virsky in Kiev, Ukraine. After 8 months, I moved to Turkey. I danced at 4 different hotels over 5 years as an entertainer and dance captain which required me to choreograph and rehearse the shows that were performed.
I came to Paris for an audition in 2006 and successfully got the job. I have been here ever since and finished my last University exam in 2008. This means I am a qualified Choreographer in Folk and Character dance. I am currently a dancer & replacement for the soloist at the Moulin Rogue.
Who was a major influence in dancing life & encouraged your pursuit of a dancing career?
My mother was a big influence; she had danced all her life and let me help at her studio since age 13. All of my teachers encouraged me to train hard and hopefully get to see the world and travel as a dancer. I looked up to Igor Moiseyev*, who was the head of the Russian Dance Company** in Moscow.
Are there many opportunities in Russia?
When I was growing up, people wanted to use dance as a `ticket` out of Ukraine – the salary and opportunity not as good as it is today. There is a growth in opportunities and lots of new dance companies in Ukraine now, which gives young dancers the ability to live and work at home.
Does your training give you an advantage over dancers from other countries?
One advantage is that we grew up in a very strict dance culture. The traditions and style of dance is taken very seriously and there is a huge focus on perfection and discipline on stage.
Character dance benefited me. It taught me to tell different stories and show different emotions in dance. There is a message in each movement that needs to be portrayed correctly. We are representing different countries and regions and need to show their traditions with respect and accuracy.
We are taught to do high jumps and tricks and dance in a very masculine style, we also train a lot in partner work and lifts.
Can dancers benefit from learning many styles & why?
Versatility is very important I think. As a child you should do many different styles to work the body in different ways and it leaves the options open to choose which path you want to follow.
The Moulin doesn’t audition in the Ukraine, how did you get your present job?
I organized my audition via email; the Moulin gave me an invitation visa to come to audition in Paris. Presently there are 3 Ukrainians working here – the main principal girl is Ukrainian!
Was it difficult dancing cabaret over the style you are trained in?
Because I had learnt lots of other styles when I was young and worked in Turkey etc – picking up the cabaret style wasn’t too hard for me. I had experience in lifting girls and partner work.
The only difficulty I had was the Can Can. It’s a mixture of kicks, cartwheels and lifts to very fast music. Although it is a character dance (French tradition), the style is very different from the eastern European styles. I have been doing it twice a night for nearly 4 years now, so it gets easier with practice!
Do you like dancing & living in Paris?
Of course, Paris is a beautiful city and there is lots of dancing opportunities here. The Moulin Rouge is the most famous cabaret in the world and has a wealth of history – 120 years old. I like the French architecture and the monuments and the food is good too! I also met my girlfriend here, so it’s good that I moved to Paris.
What will benefit young dancers in Australia…help them towards a professional career in dance?
Work hard, respect your teachers and take criticism – they are there to help you. Explore different styles and research other choreographers and their work. Look beyond your borders in Australia, you never know where in the world you may want to go!
“I love to perform the art I love” is what Igor Moiseyev* said. Keep this in mind and focus on improving yourself and your dancing.
Look out for auditions, email and put your name “out there”, you might not find your perfect job straight away but it will come.
Anything you have learnt or would have done differently?
I have learnt to adapt and work with people from many different cultures and back grounds as the Moulin hires people from all around the world!
I wish I had learnt tap dancing and more funk and commercial dance. It is really popular now and I had always looked up to people like Michael Flatley and enjoy watching these styles. But there is still time ahead, so I hope to learn in future.
** The 70-year old Moiseyev Dance Company is known as the greatest folk dance group in the world. They have captivated international audiences for decades with its technical brilliance and exuberant evocations of traditional dances. At the heart of the group’s success is the artistic director, choreographer and founder, the late Igor Moiseyev*.
*Moiseyev died in Moscow in November 2007 at the age of 101.