Danya and Anastasiya - Up Close and Personal
BY SIMA SADYKHOV
Courtesy Peter Cafaro
Living and teaching in California, training in Massachusetts, and traveling to Ukraine to avoid lockdowns caused by COVID…few go to such great lengths to be competitive as Danya and Anastasiya Rubashevsky. We caught up with them in their home studio, Dance Vita, in San Mateo, California.
American Dancer: Can you tell us something about yourselves and how you came to be partners?
Danya: I’ve been doing various forms of dance for my entire life, mainly focusing on folk dancing. I shifted my focus to ballroom, and seriously started working on it, when Anastasiya and I partnered up in 2014.
Anastasiya: I have been dancing ballroom my entire life. My father is a coach and had his own club, and thanks to his passion and energy, I fell in love with ballroom from a very early age.
How did you meet?
Danya: So we met online actually! We were both looking for a dance partner, luckily at the same time. A family friend stumbled across her profile, called my mom and told her “SHE’S PERFECT!!” So we connected. Turns out Anastasiya lived in Ukraine, the country my parents were originally from. There was an instant connection, and we got along, our parents got along, we got along with the parents, everybody got along! This was right at the time that Russia occupied Crimea, so we knew it would be a long shot. But somehow, she got her visa on her first try. We got her a flight, and the plane she was on was almost completely empty! When she arrived, instantly there was a spark between us. The dancing felt great, and our relationship developed. Before we knew it, we were married and dancing all over the world. Looking back on all the events that had to happen for this to be possible, we definitely think that something greater than us wanted this to happen.
What a great story! Can you tell us about your competition level, age-group and accomplishments?
Danya & Anastasiya: We compete in the Adult Amateur Ballroom, Latin, and 10-Dance divisions. Our accomplishments are that we’ve been USA finalists across our categories 12 times, and represented the United States at the World Championships on seven different occasions, in 2019 for all three divisions.
Have you been able to keep up your practicing during the pandemic?
Danya: Initially everything in California was shut down but we were able to get back into the studio as soon as things eased up a bit. But then there was a rash of wildfires that made the air unhealthy to breath.
Anastasiya: We decided to return to my home in Ukraine where we could study at my father’s club. Then when the COVID situation started worsening there, we returned to California.
Has COVID-19 affected your partnership at all?
Danya: COVID-19 affected our partnership in a positive way, actually. Because we lost a lot of work and regular studio access, we had to find different ways of practicing, from a 10×10 foot room, to just going outside and dancing in a park. Due to not having competitions, we were finally able to dig into our dancing and practice out the things we’d normally not have time for.
Anastasiya: We also proved to ourselves that nothing can stop us from doing what we love, as long as we look for ways to do it, rather than excuses not to.
Have you taken virtual lessons and how do you feel about them?
Danya & Anastasiya: We have taken a few virtual lessons, and we think the idea is fantastic. Another way we feel that COVID-19 has helped our dance industry is that now more teachers are doing online classes, meaning that we have the opportunity to learn from many people that normally would be unreachable for us. A lesson now costs the price of the lesson, rather than a flight ticket, hotels, food, and time change, not to mention baggage and the planning of how to efficiently use the practice clothing you brought to make it last for the trip!
What events are in your near future?
Danya: Currently, we are planning for USA Dance Nationals. We hope that they will happen this year, but even if they don’t, they will happen again, and we’ll be ready!
How have you been able to stay motivated despite COVID-19?
Danya: Motivation is a tricky thing. I think it’s impossible to always be motivated. It surely helps, but more often than not, it isn’t there. I think that’s where discipline plays a massive role.
Anastasiya: There have been many times when we REALLY didn’t feel like practicing, but we both knew that we both chose this, and after getting through that first “UGHHH” bump, and running into our first problem, we were able to motivate ourselves to fix that issue. Then the next one came up, and we fixed it too. Before we knew it, we had a successful practice. Even if there’s no motivation, and you go through the entire practice on discipline alone, at the end of the day, we didn’t miss a practice, and we had something to work on tomorrow. That in itself is a wonderful feeling.
Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with those difficult practices and whatever competitions lay ahead!