Poetry in motion: Get to know dancer Valeriia Slastikhina
If you had a career as extensive as Valeriia Slastikhina at such a young age, you would easily be forgiven for resting on your laurels for a bit. However, the young dancer is doing the exact opposite and continues to move from strength to strength.
As she aims to transcend the ballet into other styles, we were lucky to grab more than a few moments with her to see what’s next.
Tell us about your history in dance. How did you start your journey?
It all started at an early age, even in kindergarten I participated in all dance concerts, I danced any “polka” in the first line, educators and music directors always praised me and told my mother about my talent.
In kindergarten, I really loved all the concerts that are associated with dance and music. I was not very assiduous, origami, drawing, constructor in the kindergarten never aroused my interest. But everything related to sports – yes.
Therefore, even in kindergarten, my mother heard that there was a recruitment to one of the popular bands in our city, and no doubt signed me up there. I clearly remember how there was a selection in groups, we had to repeat a certain number of movements after the choreographer, positions in the choreography, there were a lot of children then.
We were placed along the barre (ballet) and called by the name of who passed, so I ended up in the Metamorphoses team at the age of 7 years.
I was very happy, in general, this whole dance class, choreographer, music, senior dancers, everything seemed to me something incredible. I am so small, in a huge dance hall, which turned out to be my second home for the next 11 years. Stably from 1 year of dancing, we had 3-4 rehearsals a week, we developed at a high speed, which is most important after 7 months.
We performed the Pinocchio dance, I think everyone understands what kind of hero Pinocchio is, the first dance , in white ballet shoes, white socks, and a suit with a cap on his head. I remember all the emotions, there was probably no fear, there was an interest that this is such a big stage, when the whole auditorium is looking at you.
I will not deny that I was not worried, but self-confidence has always been a support. I was already on the first line, in the first dance, but it didn’t mean anything to me, the emotions that I experienced then cannot be expressed in any words, after that my motivation and desire to be on stage are still present in my life.
Many times something didn’t work out, I was upset that I couldn’t sit in the Lotus position, but the choreographer every time just came up and helped me, never saying that something wouldn’t work, movements also when something didn’t it turns out that you just repeat 10-20-30 times, in the end something works out, and you feel an incredible feeling that through work and simplicity you can do everything.
Who were your biggest inspirations when you were younger?
I think my choreographer and older girls, professional dancers, were my inspiration, as a child I dreamed of being “like them”. then I became a Jennifer Lopez fan :) yes she is a singer but her dance skills are just superb.
I danced to her songs and watched all the concerts on TV, and later I got to her concert in Moscow three years ago, so when I saw her live and her abilities on stage, I had no doubt that I had chosen the right person for inspiration.
You’ve taken countless dancing classes throughout your career. What has been the most useful lesson you learned from these classes?
I think I realized that nothing is impossible; in any case there will be success if you like what you do. I attended a lot of dance master classes with different dance styles, and when something didn’t work out for me, I didn’t give up, but on the contrary, with more motivation, I tried to do what was required. So in life, when something does not work out, it charges me more.
Dancing can be a collaborative skill as often as an individual one. Do you prefer performing as part of a group or solo?
I danced for 11 years in a group and it was just amazing. when someone gives you motivation if something doesn’t work out, when you feel a team spirit, when you can improve something together.
But later I tried solo, and this gave me even more motivation to dance, because here I can show more of my emotions and convey the idea of the dance that I came up with myself. team dance is more about emotions, and solo is about feelings, what is in your heart now, and maybe that you don’t want to talk, but you can dance
What do you consider to be the most difficult part of dancing?
I think the most difficult thing is many hours of training, and work on yourself and your diligence. and you can also highlight the emotional state when something is wrong in your life, but you have to forget about it and just perfectly dance at the dance and share positive emotions with the audience.
But this is all fixable, sometimes I was not in the mood, but when I went on stage I was so immersed in the dance that I forgot about my problems and enjoyed the process, therefore dance is my salvation in most of my life
Performers can be their own worst critics. Do you like to watch footage of your earlier performances?
Oh my god, absolutely yes. I always watch my performances to understand and analyze the mistakes, I also like to go to the round table, this is the name of the conference of judges and choreographers after the competition, and listen to the opinion of the judges.
It is very important to monitor your performances and mistakes as well as listen to the opinions of others. and it is also very important to look at what point of development you are now and what was, this is also motivation.
You also have experience as a choreographer. Do you feel that your ability to choreograph has improved your skills as a dancer?
Absolutely yes, when you dance and repeat the movements after the choreographer, you may not be able to put in something of your own or change the movements, but when you are a choreographer, from idea to movement you come up with it yourself.
You can open new horizons in dance, therefore improve your skills as a dancer as well. So I just can see that I achieve and improve myself much more after being a dancer in a team.
Do you have exercises or routines that help you prepare for a performance?
Yes, sure. I usually spend at least an hour stretching and warming up my muscles, I just do the exercises, stretching, I can also do some cardio exercises. warming up is very important before any rehearsal, competition. emotionally, I just try to stay calm, although it is difficult, breathing practices and meditation help.
Is there an aspect of dance you’d like to attempt that you haven’t yet been able to?
I still want to try step, I know it is very difficult, I almost bought classes at the Broadway Center, but in the end I did not dare, it seems something unreal, but I know for sure that someday I will try. I just really like step dancers, I have tried many types of dance, but this one remains my dream, I think I will perform it soon, I need to have the courage :)
What is the biggest thing you want audiences to take away from your performances?
I have already published several articles about how dance can be an international language. a lot can be said with the help of dance, I just want to let people think during the dance, maybe think about what this dance brings, it could be problems, or vice versa.
Some of the joys of life that we no longer pay attention to in everyday life. it is very important to feel the feedback at the end of the performance, and to understand that the audience was imbued with your performance and drew conclusions.
What has been your greatest professional success?
I think these were victories in some international competitions, in which there were quite famous dancers, and judges, it was really important for me as a dancer – the high appreciation of my talent.
As well as choreographic activity in China, gave me a lot, I staged several concerts with different international students, as well as with children, it is always more difficult to work with children, they require a lot of attention, but here I managed to keep this attention.
They were just very passionate about the processes and the concert turned out amazing. but I’m only 24 years old, I think all my great merits and callings are ahead, I have many goals and plans for the future, both as a choreographer and as a dancer
What about a professional failure? What did you learn from it?
It was sometimes so that we did not take the grand prix of the competition, and the only thing that we understood was that it was only work and nothing more, we needed to work more in the dance class, participate more in competitions, listen to criticism and correct mistakes. without mistakes there will never be success- this I always tell to my dance students.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
at the moment, I want to attend master classes even more and improve my abilities, so that later I can open a dance school with different directions, so that these are not only fun dances, but also dances that help to keep mental health in order, so that a person can come and relax mentally thanks to dance.
I also want to continue participating in competitions, it’s energizing, it’s an indescribable atmosphere, dancing is already my life, I just want to keep up with them
What advice do you have for aspiring dancers?
at least choose the style that you really like, there are a lot of directions in dancing, and if someone likes hip hop because of the energy, then someone else may love the content because of the more emotional component.
Therefore 1 decide on the direction of the dance, then if there are any failures, then just continue to work in the dance class, work on yourself, not stand still and be sure that everything will work out. Remember that in every failure there is success.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I want to be a world famous dancer, I want to give master classes all over the world, I want to be the owner of a dance school in America, after all, a school where you not only dance, but also help your mental health through dancing is something new and should be very useful. I want to inspire people with dance culture, I want to be a judge at various dance competitions. so I’m just a dancer with a dream.
What other dances would you like to see Valeriia take on in the future beyond ballet? Let us know in the comments!