Growing up in Rivne, Ukraine, Yuliya started dancing at the tender age of 7. “My mom always dreamed to be a dancer,” says the beautiful 30-year-old who has danced around the world and now delights students at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
While Yuliya’s mother is a talented painter, she never realized her own dream of dancing. So she encouraged her young daughter to hone her own dance talents and eventually, it took.
In Ukraine, you don’t always have a choice in your career or artistic path, Yuliya recalls. If you’re good, you’re chosen to continue; if you’re not, at a certain point, you’re out.
As a little girl, she danced four days a week, two to three hours at a time. She learned ballroom, classical, jazz, yoga and by the age of 8 she started competing.
“The group I was in was big, like 30 children,” she says. “Every year it gets smaller and smaller; someone leaves but no one enters. If you are 9 already, they don’t take you.”
Yuliya’s heart was in performance rather than competition. As soon as the Soviet government fell, and free market enterprise entered Ukraine, dance became more expensive. Yuliya quit in her teens for all of eight months – but the pull was so great, she had to resume dancing.
“I couldn’t live without it,” she says.
Yuliya went to university and continued dancing. It took some years before she realized what she loved to do could actually be her life’s pursuit. At 17, she started giving dance lessons and continued performing. Her dance partner later became her husband.
They traveled to perform, first living and working in Turkey, dancing giving way to choreography and solos. They started competing again and won prizes internationally.
Later, they worked on a cruise ship, Adventure of the Seas, after which Yuliya went to Ecuador to live and dance for four years. Her marriage ended, but her dance career thrived and in time, she received a visa to come work in the United States.
She came to Detroit nearly a year ago and has been teaching at Fred Astaire Dance Studio ever since. She currently serves not only as a dance instructor but also as our studio’s Dance Director.
Why does she teach dance?
“I just like people,” Yuliya says. “That’s what makes me like the work. It’s social dancing. It’s fun.”
“Dancing is my life,” says Yuliya. “It’s everything that I have. After changing so many places and relationships, changing my lifestyle, even my goals, dancing was always there, and I hope it’s going to be always there, too.”