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This young woman has come around places sure enough, starting with the Ukraine and ending (for the time being) in Canada. In this year she will be in Germany for the first time, at the “World of Orient”, to be precisely. And here she will show us, what she has learned whilst on her trip. By the way the world famous drummer and photographer Pedro Bonatto will accompany her, with whom she cooperates very much. Check out here, what she has so say ...

Interview with Iana Komarnytska
- by Marcel Bieger
Would you please enlighten us about your dance training and career?

I have been practicing Middle-Eastern dances for the last ten years, and before that I already had a strong ballet background dancing since early childhood. My training took place in Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey and Canada. Today I’m specializing in belly dance, Persian Classical and Turkish Roma dance styles.

My belly dance training started in Ukraine with Olga Grechanuk, and later with Amira Abdi. For three years I was one of the leading dancers in "Ishtar Dance Company" directed by Amira. However, even despite I was dancing since 4 years old, I've never thought about being a professional dancer until 2011... That year I was graduating from university in Kiev with a Master degree in Finance and at some point just realized that office jobs were not for me. The realization that I wanted to focus entirely on dancing was surprising not only for my relatives and friends, but even for me. Moreover, I wanted to focus not just on performing, but mainly on the choreographic part of this art. My next step was looking into universities in Ukraine and abroad that offered dance programs, and this decision led me to Canada, where I live until today.

For the last five years my life is fully dedicated to professional dancing and inthis time a lot of things happened. In 2014 I graduated from the dance program of York University in Toronto. Also, in 2014 I've won the Star Bellydancer Canada competition in all solo categories. I was happy that in the Folklore category the victory piece that I performed was Turkish Roma dancing, a style that I admire since 2011. And I went to Istanbul many times to study with Reyhan Tuzsuz, Serap Su and other local teachers. During university years I worked on some research projects about historical connections between belly dance, ballet and modern dance. A few articles of mine are published in online and printed media and in 2012 I had an opportunity to present a lecture on this topic at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada.

Also, during my years in Canada I had a chance to work with Arabesque Dance Company, and performed at their production «Jamra» staged to full live orchestra in 2012.
In 2014 I released my first DVD ‘The Art of Belly Dance Choreography’ in collaboration with historian and musician Dr. George Sawa. Also, my interest in choreographic processes of different dance styles gave me the background for creating my individual style with Isis wings, where I dance with three pairs of wings at the same time. One of my last competition achievements is the first place at “Cairo by Cyprus” competition 2015. Living in such a multicultural city as Toronto also gave me an opportunity to meet and study with teachers of Persian dancing, and today it is one of the most demanding styles I perform at different occasions.

Of course, there were competitions and successes even before my university education. However, in my mind, my dance career started with the moment of fully dedicating my life to dancing and I believe that my main achievement for today is being able to live from dancing, actively performing and teaching both in the Toronto community, as well as being invited to events in other places of North and South America and Europe.

Tell us about your cooperation with Pedro Bonatto?

I have been working together with Pedro Bonatto for a few years now both on photography and music projects.

It started with a photographic collaboration, when Pedro just invited me to be a model for some artistic photos. Actually, one of the photos from our first photo shoot became a cover for ‘The Belly dance Reader 2’ book. Later it evolved into so many more projects that we didn’t even expect: many more photo sessions, as well as teaching workshops and lectures for dancers about useful tips before and during photo shooting. Today I’m also helping Pedro on his current art series ‘The Orientalist’, inspired by 19th century paintings. This series features many dancers and musicians all around the world including Khaled Mahmoud, Aida Bogomolova, Marta Korzun, Julia Torgonska, Erhan Ay, Julia Mitsai, Kristina Derkach, Lulu Sabogi, Raquy, Evelina Papazova, Kateryna Solpanova, and many more artists.

The photos were taken in three different continents, and we are really looking forward to putting this project out in the world. From a small idea, it was transformed into a big international project that brings up not only aesthetic, but also social aspects of 21st century society.


Another important side of our collaboration is music and dance projects. Pedro is a drummer specializing in Arabic style, but also playing some Turkish, Balkan, Persian and other beats. For the few last years he has been a part of Arabesque Orchestra in Toronto, as well as many other bands. We have recently started our own music and dance group, ‘The Blue Dot’, where I’m the leading dancer. Most of the band’s repertoire is focused on Middle-Eastern culture, but the idea itself is combining and mixing music and dance from different parts in the world without any boundaries. For instance, during our recent tour in Brazil we put together a show combining Arabic and Brazilian instruments, performing music and dance from both cultures. Besides the performing aspect of music collaboration, I work with Pedro a lot on educational materials. For instance, we put together two series of video classes: one about Turkish Roma dance technique, and another about Belly dance rhythms. Also, we regularly teach workshops and intensives about rhythms, as well as dancing to drum solo (improvisation, and choreographies).
What will you teach us in your workshops?

This time I’m teaching a choreography class on the topic of drum solo. The real treat is that the workshop will be done entirely to live drumming by Pedro. Moreover, we’ll dance to his absolutely new composition that is not even released yet, but recorded version of music will be available for workshop participants.

While preparing this specific choreography I wanted to use a new approach for drum solo performances. First of all, we will focus a lot on controlling the flow of energy: how with specific movements you can project energy into the audience, and then at the next moment, bring their attention to some small movements of your body. I like to play with this concept and performing skills right at the moment of creating and practicing dance, and this workshop will highlight a lot of it. Also, I wanted to get out of the ‘usual box of movements’ for drum solo: chest, belly, hips… We will see how we can incorporate non-traditional steps, and arm technique into the concept of drum solo performance.

We are looking forward to coming to World of Orient festival organized by Asmahan El Zein, and hope to see you at the shows and our workshop!

Thank you.
Best regards,

Iana Komarnytska


Iana & Pedro
Iana 2014 - winner of the "Star-Bellydancer Canada"-Contest
What do you expect from coming to Germany and performing here?

It’s my first time in Germany, so I’m very excited to see the country and also to meet dancers. For me, it’s always very intriguing to compare differences in styles among dancers from around the world, as well as seeing different approaches in the learning process.

In one country dancers would pay more attention to the technique, in another one more to musicality, etc. Of course, there are exceptions everywhere, but it’s interesting to observe a general tendency. I’m very curious to see dancers in Germany. Also, I’ve heard a lot about German belly dance festivals and the high quality of both organization and dance levels. It’s a real pleasure to collaborate with organizers of World of Orient festival, so I’m very much looking forward to the festival itself!

Photos © Pedro Bonatto