Dancing is one of Olya Moskalenko's biggest passions, and she is good at it, studying at such places as the National School of Ballet in Canada. While the Ukranian-born, Canadian-raised resident of Dubai works as a public relations (PR) and events manager for Virgin Megastore, she recently found a way to incorporate dance into her day job.
You started traditional Ukrainian folk dancing when you were just four, then took up ballet, jazz and hip hop. What's it like now training under Sharmila Kamte at Sharmila Dance in Dubai?
She's a really inspirational teacher, and she's really tough - just like the Russian style, which I love. A lot of teachers, especially [those with] the Canadian style or American, are very nice but you don't get anywhere with that. You need to be pushed.
Had you ever thought about pursuing dance as a career when you were younger?
Yes, but being a dancer professionally, especially a ballerina, is a very tough life and you're only dedicated to that. I have many different passions. I also wanted to go to university.
Recently your employer, Virgin Megastore, enlisted Sharmila Dance to create a promotional dance routine for the opening of a new store at The Dubai Mall. How did you get involved in both of these projects?
Before I joined [Virgin Megastore in July] they had already wanted to do the surprise opening dance. It all happened synchronically: I joined Virgin and Sharmila Dance company, then I found out we [at Sharmila] are doing the dance.
Did you find it difficult to learn the routine and still represent Virgin Megastore with its PR?
Yes. Sharmila is a perfectionist; she's giving corrections and making sure everything's right for the dance, so I'd be with the students. Then, on the flipside, I have to stand up and say: "When we do a [certain dance move], can we scream Virgin? Can we do this?" Even on the day of the performance, I was up with soundcheck making sure everything was OK, then I'd run downstairs to the rehearsal. But I love that.
Do you feel that surprise dances and flash mobs are being overdone by companies for marketing purposes?
What is not overdone these days? It's just the way that you do it. It's the quality, I think of the choreography, the dancers and the creativity. Dubai is still an emerging market, so even though it's been done in North America and Europe, it's still kind of fresh here.
You build buzz and manage events for artists and authors who visit Virgin Megastores in the UAE. Are you hoping to weave dance into other projects in the future?
Whenever I meet artists, and they need dancers to open up their performance, I can always suggest Sharmila Dance. I'd definitely love to incorporate it as much as possible while remaining professional, of course.
Are there other parallels between the field of PR and dance?
I guess both are an art of expression and communication. I think the fundamental part about both is that you have a connection with the audience and the [store] guests.
* Neil Parmar