Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Portrait of a jazz dancer, singer & actor
Ksenia Parkhatskaya describes herself as fluid, explorative and emotional when it comes to her art. As a professional jazz dancer, she has been fine tuning her skills from a young age. Now, as to how she got into dancing? Well, that just came naturally.
Dharma - the concept that an individual’s duty is fulfilled - is what Ksenia credits as the driving force behind how she got into dancing at the age of six.
“My parents saw me dancing and, you know, they were responsive enough to put me on that path,” Ksenia said.
Even though her family tended to inhabit the world of painting and sculpting, they supported Ksenia on her own creative path.
“Life was really shaping its pathways for me, that somehow I always ended up in this way or that way with dancing, you know, be on stage, be huge," Ksenia said. "With the theater, big with music, it was always somehow shaped by dancing as well.”
Over the course of her dancing career, Ksenia has tried many different styles of dance. However, jazz is the one that has stayed prominent throughout her life.
“I traveled through different styles in dance, like the ballroom dance or classical dance, modern dance, African dance, tap dance,” Ksenia said. “Finally, my specialization right now is jazz dance style. So all sorts from the 1900s up to the modern days, and maybe a few more fusion today.”
What stands out about Ksenia’s style is her ability to incorporate comedy into her dance pieces.
“Now, I feel like I made a little circle back to where I was, let's say seven years ago, when I did my comedy, slapstick/theatrical dances which was like a chicken rhythm, or my smoking cigarette ‘20s charleston character,” Ksenia said. “So, something that was dance but as well as comedy, and it will work as well with something theatrical.”
Humor, and breaking the assumption that dance cannot be something humorous, is important to her.
“Now I'm going back to this period of naivety, silliness because we really need it like water in our life,” Ksenia said. “Being naive, silliness, a bit of grotesque, all that mixed in.”
Even so, Ksenia admits to having what many performers experience: stage fright.
“You know, for me personally, I never got over the nervousness and the anxiousness,” Ksenia said. “I think at some point, my nervousness reached a level that I was literally, I was able to say, sorry, I can't perform today. I was so nervous.”
Then she met a pianist at a jazz festival who performed with such confidence she had to know how he was able to do it.
He told her: Instead, use your dance as a language to transmit something. Think about what you are transmitting. Dance, music, and art are all languages. We can say horrible things with it, and disturb the atmosphere and leave people in an unpleasant mood. Or we can transmit something beautiful.
While the nerves persist, her love for dance and the arts never subsides. She continues to work on new pieces all of the time. As an artist, Ksenia has her own creative process when it comes to her dancing and singing.
“I would describe it as just a whirlwind world of everything,” Ksenia said. So it's like a tornado of ideas that you don't even have time to put in your mouth. There are so many, they're in queue inside of you ready to come out in a shape of words. Then comes a little bit my Virgo personality where then I have to go, okay, we have to start step by step a bit planning what are the months ahead? So sometimes I like to if I have momentum and time and energy and resources, I try to do it immediately.”
Ksenia is an artist who takes inspiration from everything she sees, hears or experiences within her life.
“Even a dirty, smelly street of central Barcelona can inspire you,” Ksenia said. “Those smells, this uncomfort, this reflection, those colors, this business of the street can as well inspire you to create a character, or to write a song, or to have a melody.”
Her husband of eight years, David Duffy, also plays a vital role in her creative process, and vice versa.
“It's beautiful, I think, how each one of us can play a main role and a supporting role in our careers,” Ksenia said. “So sometimes David is doing some important project for him, I am in a supporting role, and shift my skill to be a cook for recording sessions or whatever it is, and then he does the same when it's something where I'm playing more like a director role or something. So just find this as well, it's very beautiful.”
Ksenia’s advice to young girls who are interested in becoming a dancer or singer is in and of itself inspirational. She values the importance of self expression and of not being afraid of who you are as an individual.
“One is to not forget to recognize in yourself and nourish something that is a shiny diamond that just needs a little polishing here and there and then it is very unique,” Ksenia said. “To develop and go inwards in order to go outwards with something that is so you, and bring that part of you into this world. Not to try and become the same as somebody else.”
Find out more about Ksenia and her work at kseniaparkhatskaya.com
Article by Ava Wojnowski
Ava Wojnowski is an intern with LunART. She is majoring in journalism and Spanish and is excited to bring her passion for writing to LunART. Outside of school, Wojnowski loves to spend time outside and also loves to listen to music. She played the viola from 4th to 12th grade, so music has always been a part of her life.