A Belly Dancer from Ukraine. Why not?
I'm Ukrainian and I'm a belly dancer. I love what I do and who I am. It is natural for me to move to a baladi rhythm, and wear a scarf around my hips. No, belly dance has nothing to do with Ukrainian culture. Why should it? If pasta is from Italy, does it mean that only Italian chefs can cook it? And yes, I know the basics of Ukrainian traditional dancing, but I’m sure there are a lot of non-Ukrainians in this world who can dance it much better than I can. Is anything wrong with this situation? I don’t think so… I actually think that is truly amazing!
Why should someone’s birthplace necessarily identify one’s interests and activities? Especially in the 21st century, when any country is reachable within 24 hours on a plane, or within a few seconds via the Internet, why do we still get surprised of such cultural mixture? Isn’t it something that was common throughout history, but just became more accessible now?
We are constantly searching for something new, travelling to different countries, exploring new cultures. But things that actually stay in our lives are the ones that feel the most familiar to our souls, and it doesn’t matter if it comes from within or beyond our national borders. I believe that those ties can connect this world much stronger than any political alliances or trade unions.
Photos for this blog post were done at Pyrohiv, an open-air Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine during my recent visit there, and by a funny coincidence, I’m publishing it out on the Independence Day of Ukraine! Wishing peace and prosperity to my country, I’d also like to say that the value of independence is not only in the freedom of celebrating traditions and culture, but also in the possibility of choosing your own influences, and exploring freely both national and international cultures.
Where are you from? Share in comments below :)
Author and model: Iana Komarnytska
Photographer: Pedro Bonatto
*An improvised belly dancing to a traditional Ukrainian instrument tsymbaly :)
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