Find out more about our work and read guest posts from artists, and learn about our community.
Next up in our Discover Dance! series is Voirelia Dance Hub. We sat down with Founder and Co-Artistic Director Alina Sotskova to discuss her career in dance, the elements of her choreography and what we can expect at the upcoming performance.
Tell us about your journey to/through dance
I started dancing at the age of 4 in Sevastopol, Ukraine, taking ballet, lyrical, and folk dance. I immigrated to Canada as a teenager and my connection with dance was interrupted. Moving to Toronto was a huge shock and a difficult transition, especially while learning English, adjusting to a new culture, and trying to make ends meet. There was no time to think about dance, but I missed it so much. During my undergraduate studies in psychology and philosophy at York University, I became more engaged with performance art, and started dancing a little bit.
I moved to BC and in 2009 started a Master of Science at the University of Victoria. I started taking ballet and jazz and it was like a door to something so exciting was suddenly swung open. I couldn’t get enough of dance and was soaking it in.
I discovered contemporary dance, which was a whole new world to me. I joined a small university-based company, Victoria Dance Theatre and continued dancing as I was working on my PhD in Clinical Psychology.
After I graduated, I had so completely fallen in love with dance again that I knew that dance must stay as a big part of my life. I decided to forego an academic work trajectory in psychology and joined a private practice instead. I have dedicated myself to building a professional dance career ever since.
When and why did you form Voirelia Dance Hub
I founded Voirelia: Dance, Psychology, & Philosophy Hub in 2017. I wanted to create a supportive, non-competitive environment where artists come to be creative, experiment artistically, collaborate, and share the results of it with the community.
I also wanted Voirelia to be a platform where people from all the different disciplines I belong to – psychology, philosophy, dance – can come and learn from one another. I find that these disciplines have so much fascinating overlap and so much to learn from one another…
My studies in psychology enhance my understanding of the process of creating and sharing dance, and my artistic work helps me be an inventive and flexible psychotherapist. I envisioned a hub that breaks down silos – between people, communities, and disciplines.
What are the main elements in your choreography to date?
I am very interested in blending dance with story and narrative to create a bit of a blend of dance and theatre.
The main elements have always been to create choreography that evokes emotion, that people can relate to, and that invites discussion and reflection. I want to make choreography that tells stories – sometimes it might be just a moment of a story told by movement. I want the dance to be a mirror – something that the audience can see themselves in and something that they can enjoy thinking about and interpreting in different ways.
There are a lot of psychological and philosophical questions that go into the creation of the work for me and I hope that the choreography invites reflection about questions that people feel matter to them – about relationships, values, dreams, about the meaning of a mindful life that has room for enchantment with the world.
Tell us about the work you’ll be sharing for Discover Dance!
For Discover Dance!, we will be sharing our recent work, De/Formed Revival. It is a blend of contemporary dance with Renaissance sculpture and art inspirations. It is a story that I hope touches something in all of us: a daring hope for change and re-invention. Over several years of artistic research by the Voirelia creative team, we have been delving into the question, “what is a renaissance?” – on both a personal and a societal level.
I am especially interested in psychological history – how long it takes to truly change ideas about roles in society, gender roles in particular. De/Formed Revival is a way to explore these interests and invite conversations about these topics. It invites us all to consider how limits that constrain us are passed on through time. We may pass them along, unknowingly, until we realize this and attempt to change.
While we all share a drive to connect with others, the roles we are often shaped into get in the way of authentic connection, of truly knowing and showing our genuine selves.
The process of letting go of the past is a struggle, but there are real connections we can find along the way that make the struggle worth it. In the dance, we use the story of sculptures coming to life as a metaphor to explore the process of letting go.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’m a huge nerd now (and love it!), but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, early in high school, I was failing science and was generally pretty demotivated and discouraged about my career future. It took several absolutely incredible, caring, and inspiring teachers to help me discover what I am capable of and without their mentorship, I might have never gone to university or been brave enough to return to dance as an adult.
I will never forget the value that support and mentorship can have on someone’s life and it will always be an important thing for me to take part in – in both giving and receiving.
What is your next project(s)?
I would like to extend my work on De/Formed Revival into a new creation, transporting ‘Renaissance’ into the future. It will be a new work that uses futurism to consider – how are the choices we are making now going to affect the future of human relationships? I’m inspired by sci-fi books and cinematic gems, like Dune and Bladerunner. Picture a mix of Renaissance, cyberpunk, sci-fi, and contemporary dance transported to a world 500 years from now.
Another project in development with Voirelia’s second Co-Director, Jennifer Aoki, is called Zen Punk Catastrophe. This project is about psychological reactions to the climate crisis. This project is a convergence of contemporary dance, Zen psychology and philosophy, and Punk Ikebana.
We have a great artistic team for each project and are in process of finding sufficient support to make these exciting projects happen.
Discover Dance! Voirelia Dance Hub
Details and Tickets
Photos: Jason Kirkness and Carol Gandra
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