The dance group “Smuglyanka”, skilfully guided for over a decade by the talented professional Alexandra Pavlyuk, enjoys widespread recognition beyond Auckland. They are regular performers at various concerts, festivals and cultural events around New Zealand. However, their recent debut on the prestigious stage of the Auckland SkyCity Theatre marked their first participation in such a grand-scale concert.         To merely describe the concert as successful would be an understatement. Surprisingly, it offered much more than just a “Smuglyanka” performance. The diverse lineup of artists showcased a range of talents, creating a multi-genre experience that caught many, including myself, off guard. Vocalists, choral groups, musicians, and even a children’s dance ensemble representing the Serbian diaspora took the stage, offering the audience a rich tapestry of performances. In fact, in our recent issues we extensively covered many of these artists: Olga Shanina, Maria Gau, Olga Panasenko, and the Singing Nations Choir. This time, I’ll share my reflections on the dance routines presented by “Smuglyanka”.

Never before have I witnessed such an abundance of their performances showcased on stage. A myriad of genres, ranging from whimsical and classical to cutting-edge in terms of fluidity and choreography, graced the audience. Adorned in magnificent costumes and employing unexpected stage arrangements, their mastery was truly evident.  From the impeccably executed floating glides reminiscent of the renowned Berezka Dance Ensemble in the women’s round dance sequences to the contemporary moves exemplified by the group’s soloists set to Vivaldi’s melodies, left spectators in awe. Even excerpts from the authentic ballet repertoire were flawlessly delivered. It was an absolute delight to behold!

The children’s ensemble “Smuglyanka” serves as a beacon for the promising talent of the next generation within the adult troupe, showcasing the skills honed under the expert guidance of Alexandra Pavlyuk.  Indeed, Alexandra’s prowess as a top professional is undeniable. Managing such a sizable team with individuals spanning various age groups is no small feat, yet she adeptly navigates this challenge with apparent ease. From selecting and choreographing new pieces to meticulously refining each movement during rehearsals, Alexandra’s dedication to her craft shines through. Her ability to orchestrate every aspect, from musical accompaniment to costume design, culminates in the creation of captivating masterpieces for the audience to savour. Alexandra, your talents as a teacher, choreographer, and manager are truly commendable – I tip my hat to you!

I believe I have conveyed all that I wished to share about my experience at the concert. My heartfelt thanks go out to all the performers for the immense joy they brought to the audience. And a special gratitude to Alexandra Pavlyuk!

Rimma Shkrabina, Auckland

(translated by Lena Naumova)