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Zhenya Cerneacov, tells us about his journey from ballroom dancing in Chisinau to co-founder of The School of Cadence Ballet and Throwdown Collective, in Toronto.

DANCEWORKS: Can you tell us about your home in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. How did you spend your early dancing days?

ZHENYA: I was born in the Republic of Moldova which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. I started dancing at the age of 6 when my mother put me into competitive ballroom class at school. I kept training and competing until I was 15. After Grade 10, I joined a commercial dance company and started to learn other styles of dance: modern, contemporary, hip-hop and jazz.

DANCEWORKS: In addition to your work as a professional dancer and with Throwdown Collective, you co-founded The School of Cadence Ballet. Can you tell us about the school?

ZHENYA: In 2011, I started The School of Cadence Ballet (which is now an international ballet school with students from overseas), with Courtnae Bowman. Since it’s a very small enterprise I have to do a multitude of jobs: co-artistic director, accountant, receptionist, repair man, photographer, videographer, graphic and sound designer, teacher, choreographer, and outside eye.

DANCEWORKS: Can you tell us about Throwdown Collective’s creative and rehearsal process for Various Concert? What are some of the challenges and triumphs in working with a collective?

ZHENYA: After the completion of three successful outdoor commissions with large props, we were itching to get into the studio and start working on a stage piece to explore movement ideas. The challenge of working in a collective model without an obvious  hierarchical structure, is finding a common ground and the ability to merge individual visions and artistic instincts through extensive communication and practice. The resulting work represents the amalgamation of our artistic visions.

DANCEWORKS: Thank you, Zhenya.

Looking for more Throwdown Collective? Check out these artist interviews with Lina Cruz, Mairéad Filgate, and  Brodie Stevenson.

DanceWorks presents Throwdown Collective at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre on February 9-11 at 8pm. Click here to purchase tickets.