The legendary Virsky studio floor
I’ve danced on many memorable floors.
In Hungary, there was the stage made of rotting wood, the holes hidden by fallen leaves and twigs.
In Croatia, there was the concrete stage we danced on while it was pouring rain. And then it started storming, the lightning striking as we hit a pose.
In Ukraine, just a couple months ago, I danced on a raked stage, meaning it inclined toward the back of the stage so the audience had a better view (but the dancers had a harder time).
There was also the stage I had my final performance on with Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. We were in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, performing on Independence Day and the wind was so strong it pushed us as we danced. And the stage was so shaky that we pushed it while we danced. It also seemed to have an incline, unintentionally though.
And of course in Canada, there have been many memorable floors, like the grass of Shaw Park, where the Winnipeg Goldeyes play.
But there’s a new memorable floor to add to the list: the Virsky studio floor.
I've watched countless videos of the ensemble rehearsing in their home studio. And judging by how well the dancers always look, I assumed the floor had a bit of magic in it — it sticks when you need it to stick, it slides when you need it to slide, it springs when you need it to spring.
Turns out the opposite is true.
There are holes in the floor, my heel getting caught from time to time. And with holes come loose pieces of wood, leading to slivers and ripped tights.
There's a newer section of floor near the front, and is it ever a treat to dance on. For the most part, us Canadians would do the exercises near the back so we could do them as often as we'd like, but at the back is where the holes seem to congregate. But it only pushed us to be more stable in our dancing, and when our instructor called us to the nice floor at the front for a spin or two, we'd do better than we thought we would (for the most part), since we were used to dodging holes.
The dancers also water the floor, a couple of them walking ever so gracefully with a water can, sprinkling the areas where we'll dance (in ballet, near the barres to start then in the centre). One dancer said it helps keep your turnout (the rotation of the hips outward) since your feet won't slide. I didn't really find that it did anything though.
Also, on the side, there's a pile of resin to give your dance shoes more grip.
This floor is legendary. So many feet have stamped there, so much sweat has dripped there, and so many eyes have been amazed there. And I'm so thankful to have danced on it six days a week for the past two months.
The Studio dancers have a fall break this week, so sadly our time dancing alongside them ended on Saturday. This week we're taking some classes at the Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts in the choreography department, specifically folk dance.
Today was day one. We had three classes: methods and theory of teaching Ukrainian dance, Ukrainian dance technique, and teaching folk stage dance (today we focused on Latin American dances).
It was tons of fun, though extremely challenging. (If you saw me during the dance from Venezuela that we learned, you would have guessed I've never put a dance shoe on before in my life.)
And to top it all off, we saw a few familiar faces from the Virsky Studio, since some of them study at the university and even take some of the same classes we were in today.
This is my last week here in Kyiv (for now). Next week we're off to Lviv to train with the dance ensemble Yunist.
And though I'm excited for the months ahead, I am sure going to miss this city, its dancing, and its people, in particular the Virsky Studio dancers.
Thanks for welcoming us into your group, dragging us around when we didn't know the dance steps, and making our experience in Kyiv unforgettable.
Until next time!