For many this name might be unfamiliar, but it says a lot for those who have been involved in the world of Ukrainian dance choreography in the recent decades. He started as the artistic director of the onсe glorified "Yatran" ensemble that later became the home and the ‘departure point’ for a plethora of talented choreographers, then he took over leadership of a no less famous group called "Zoryany", and finally - became one of the founders of the first and, for now, only museum of choreography in the world.
Kryvochyzha’s path in, and even, to dance was not easy. As a child he saw the performance of Mykola Ankudinov and right there his big dream was born, the dream to dance, create and basically live through Ukrainian stage dance. The young Anatoly Kryvochyzha badly wanted to join the dance group he saw perform, but his father, a Ukrainian peasant, didn’t see dance as a prospective future profession for his son and was pretty much impossible to reason with. And it wasn’t until the 60s that Kryvochyzha’s father finally accepted and supported his son as a dancer. That was when the then famous "Yatran" ensemble returned from a triumphant performance at the ‘Ukrainian art decade’ in Moscow.
Another turning point in Kryvochyzha’s dance carrier was meeting Pavlo Virsky. Today, years later, he admits that Virsky was the one who had crucial impact on his creative work. This prominent artist’s advice was simple - to move away from stage effect to intensive work on the folk original. Speaking of folk dance, Anatoly Kryvochyzha always treated is as a jeweler would – creating something new he would never alter the ‘natural’ interpretation. Each of his dances is a mini show, created according to strict laws of composition.
In 1977 "Yatran" went on a successful tour of the United States, Canada, Britain. Every show ended with a standing ovation. People applauded "Yatran" for the Ukrainian spirit, which against all odds, they managed to bring across continents. Anyone who has at least once seen "Yatran" perform will never be able to forget that flurry of folk elements, exquisitely laid out in dance that fills the soul with joy and price, emotion and gratitude... Here are just a few reviews "Yatran" got after the concert:
The New York Times:
«We have seen Moiseyev’s ensemble and their expressiveness, we have seen the Virsky ensemble and their philosophical judgment, we have also seen "Yatran", and they have it all, what sets them apart is the ease their work has. This group obviously has to be ranked among the world’s best.»
More about Anatoly Kryvochyzha:
«He knows how to highlight the specifics of folk dance, the entire show program goes exceptionally smoothly, and he understands the need to vary the pace and content of different pieces. Finally, his productions never get boring, not even for a moment.»
The "Ukrainian News" (USA):
«You will not find repetitions in this production. The secret of true art, perhaps, lies in the eternal wonder of the living art that knows no repetition, and each time builds up to discoveries of new features, nuances, characteristics in what already exists. Take "Hopak" for instance: no matter how many times it is performed, even by the same dancers, there’s always room for improvisation, imagination and creation of something new.»
The "Vancouver Sun":
«When folk dance ensembles, like "Yatran", go on tour, we often anticipate the national heritage to be somewhat distorted, but that is not the case with "Yatran". They demonstrate art that stands at the source of original folk art. This ensemble’s performance demonstrates a great taste level, and execution so precise that it can be called ‘polished’. "Yatran" is by far the best folk dance ensemble we have seen here over the past few years.»
The "Sun" (USA):
«This ensemble is more subtle than other Soviet dance companies. It has its
moments of "high voltage" and climax that cannot leave the viewer indifferent. The "Yatran" ensemble proved themselves as an excellent culture ‘medium’, who express national pride and personal dignity through their art.»
In the mid-80s Anatoly Kryvochyzha headed the then young group forming the "Zoryany" ensemble, functioning at the local Philharmonic. With ‘Zoryany’ Kryvochyzha continued the work and principles he’d adopted with ‘Yatran’ – he embodied folklore, ritual vocal and choreographic scenes, ‘visual song’ productions in his pieces. No wonder that later on "Zoryany" was named not just an ensemble, but a song, music and dance theater.
In 2004, Anatoly Kryvochyzha becomes one of the founders of the only museum of choreographic art. It is located in the Надія or Hope hamlet (near the city of Kirovohrad, Ukraine), the home of the founders of Ukrainian professional realistic theater, who brought Ukrainian folk dance out on stage in the first place.
Anatoly Kryvochyzha has published two books: «Гармонія танцю» ("The Harmony of Dance") and «Роздуми про мистецтво танцю» ("Reflections on the art of dance").
Yatran Ukrainian Folk Dance Company performing in NYC
Yatran Ukrainian Folk Dance Company. USA tour. Transcarpathian Dance
Yatran Ukrainian Folk Dance Company. Kozak Dance