DONETSK – DECEMBER 1997
Translation, powered by Marian Walter
Iana, her brother Yaroslav and her father Anatoli looked a bit sleepy through the window in the compartment and saw the first outline of the houses before the train from Kiev rolled into the Donetsk train station.
The brakes creaked and the passengers, who were already in the corridors of the railroad car, were pushed forward. Everyone wanted to get out of the train as quickly as possible and onto the platform.
They had been driving all night, from 8 o’clock in the evening until 8 o’clock in the morning, twelve hours on the way. Anatoli asked his children, while looking at Iana, „did you sleep a little?“ „Hm, good,“ grumbled Yaroslav.
„Oh, Dad, I’m so excited about what the day brings us today,“ said Iana. Anatoli smiled. He understood the excitement of his daughter. After all, a whole new chapter in her life began for her.
„What should he bring,“ her brother answered instead. „We’ll look at everything and then we’ll be admitted to the ballet school,“ Jaroslaw said.
„Now do not have such a big mouth, help me to bring the suitcase down from above,“ said Iana’s father to him and stretched to get to the suitcase.
Finally they were able to get out. The train wagon had been pleasantly warm still. Now they stood on the platform and Iana shivered. From cold and excitement. Iana had made it and was a little closer to her dream of becoming a great ballerina.
Father Anatoli tried to orient himself on the platform and figure out which bus to take to the ballet school. Iana’s thoughts wandered off. She still could not believe that a new phase of life was beginning for her now.
With a little sadness she thought of her teacher Traviata Ivanovna. „Child, you have great talent and if you are diligent then you will go far.“
„How far, Traviata Ivanovna?“ „Well, that’s up to you. If you come to class regularly, do your exercises, then a lot has already been done. “ „And what else can I do?“ Iana continued.
„Love the dance with all your passion that you carry in yourself. Do not be discouraged, especially if you think you can not do it anymore.“
Traviata Ivanovna herself had received her ability at the famous Vaganova School in St. Petersburg. She had no children and when she met her husband, they got married and moved to Kiev. There she worked as a teacher in the ballet academy.
Lucky for Iana. Traviata Ivanovna quickly recognized Iana’s talent and was evenstricter to make her achieve her great goal of becoming a ballerina.
„You need strong back muscles, you have to learn how to hold and move your arms and shoulders correctly,“ Traviata Ivanovna told Iana. „And why do I have to practice the Grand Allegro so often, jump so far and make the pirouettes again and again?“ Iana sank exhausted on the dance floor.
„Did I say something about a break?“ The teacher prompted. And more forgiving, she added: „Aggripina Vaganova has designed this training method.
As a ballerina and teacher, she has made our Russian ballet famous all over the world. If you want to be like them, then do not ask why you should practice so much, but ask what else you can do. Learn from the best.
And I’ll tell you what’s needed. Up, up, it goes on, and please: Grand allegro! “ Iana caught fire again, her exhaustion was blown away as she jumped.
Summer 1996. Pioneer camp Artek. Iana won the first prize in the dance competition. She was overjoyed. All the stress, the school in between, practice again and again, the relentless harshness of her teacher – all this brought her now on the podium.
„Mamutschka, look, here’s a letter from St. Petersburg, from the Vaganova ballet-cadre,“ said Iana. „Open up, what’s in it?“, Iana’s mother asked, preparing the kasha for dinner. „I can start right there, mom, to get an education.“
„Yanochka, we can not pay for that.“ Svetlana knew that she would not be able to bear the costs of training her daughter. Of course, she also knew what it meant to make that clear to her daughter. Iana had just returned from Artek, winning a first prize.
She noticed a jury member who also worked as a teacher in St. Petersburg. Very few children were even shortlisted to receive training at the Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. And even less did the entrance exam. But Iana, she was allowed to start there immediately.
„Yanochka, we can not pay 50 euros for you and your brother, that’s not in possible,“ Svetlana said as she carried the plates to the table. „Besides, it’s way too far and too dangerous. You’re just 14 years old now. “
„What should happen to me?“, Iana replied while she was struggling with tears. At the same time, Svetlana knew nothing of what had happened to her daughter only a few weeks before. It was late in the evening and it was already dark. Iana came back as always from dance training.
She heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and behind her walked a man. He seemed to be still young, maybe in his early twenties.
He swayed slightly. Iana started to walk faster. She reached her front door, unlocked it and disappeared into the hallway. The man had followed her and was now standing at the elevator door. The elevator seemed to take even longer to get down. As the doors opened, Iana glided inside and pressed herself against the back wall of the elevator.
„Which floor do you want go?“, the man asked her. He came closer to Iana. His breath smelled of alcohol. „To the sixth floor,“ Iana answered, even she lived one floor higher. She felt her heart racing with fear. The young man pushed the button, the doors closed and the elevator moved up.
„You’re so beautiful,“ mumbled the man as he breathed his alcohol-soaked breath into Iana’s face and moved closer and closer to her. Suddenly he tried to reach under her skirt. Iana took all her courage and energy together.
When the elevator stopped and the doors opened, she pushed the stranger away with all her power, ran past him and disappeared from the elevator.
„For a long time, I’ve had to fight with it,“ she recalls today. Her mother was not allowed to hear about it. Absolutely no way. She would not have let Iana go to education anywhere.
Traviata Ivanovna, however, had soon after the right inspiration: She turned to Iana one day during class. „Why don’t you go to Donetsk? I know there the head of the ballet company Wadim Pisarev? „, Iana and her brother Yaroslav got this opportunity thanks to Traviata Ivanovna, and for very little money.
Train station in Donetsk „Kids, hurry up now. The bus there goes to school. “ Anatoli tore Iana out of her thoughts. Now she could feel the strong smell of coal that blew over from the large industrial yards and shaped the city.
The bus drove past the houses, which seemed small to Iana. And she noticed the narrow streets, was pleased, how well maintained everything looked. They had arrived at the school. Iana’s heart throbbed.