Photography By Ashley Rockwood
Mural By Rich Watkin & Shawn Teseo Ballarin
"Open Eyes Welcome"
Kamilla is originally from Kazakhstan, but moved here to Chicago in April from Ukraine (where she lived for 16 years).
DAP: How did you begin dancing?
Kamilla: I started to dance in Kazakhstan at a ballet studio when I was 4. My father danced when he was young. It was also an unfulfilled dream of my mother. I danced classical ballet, Kazakhstan and Ukrainian folk dances, hip hop, jazz funk, contemporary, hip hop heels and social ballroom. Since then the universe has given me lots of different opportunities and experiences.
D: What is dance like in Ukraine?
K: It is developing there as the world flows. All ages are dancing.
D: Can you explain what the folk dances of Kazakhstan and Ukraine are like?
K: You just have to look it up on YouTube. It's pretty ornate.
D: Well, welcome to Chicago! How did you find your way to classes and dancing when you arrived?
K: When I moved here, I only knew of Arthur Murray. And it is challenging to get there. I'm in Logan Square. So not to lose my shape I went to the gym and found Zumba classes. Which are pretty fun. But for a professional it is very hard to make yourself dance hardly correct. Don't get me wrong. It is a very good class for sweating and cardio, as everything you can find at the gym. I came up with the idea of trying something I've never done before or at least in a really long time. Searching the internet I found the Joffrey. The beginner ballet class is not that easy, like at all. Good thing my muscle memory remembers everything. I didn't stop there no matter how hard it was. I took a jazz class and fell in love!!! I never knew. But it's like a combination of all the dances I have ever done, which makes it so much fun!
D: What do you feel is different so far about dance here?
K: I guess the opportunities for people who have never danced before is much more than in Kiev. All ages, races, shapes. It doesn't matter as long as you have desire. Youth from the post Soviet Union countries are dreaming about coming here. We grew up on American movies, songs and tv shows. Every girl wants to go to Disneyland. Such as every boy wants to go to N.Y. or drive the L.A. roads. It's a dream land for us.
D: What are you most excited about from the big move?
K: I am happy to be here. Discovering other cultures, people, places. Of course it's pretty difficult, but where is not? I believe there are lots of opportunities. You have to keep your eyes wide open.
Kamilla is Green to the city of Chicago. All the way from Ukraine. Fresh perspective. Fresh observation. Fresh eyes. Such a beautiful and defining moment. Her dancing is uber fresh too. Or shall we say lyft fresh. Her eager spirit and unique movement quality was a dead giveaway. She has gracefully and very quietly entered the dance community. And without hazing. She deserves a proper introduction. Chicago, meet Kamilla.
DAP LIVE ARTIST & Assistant