Yuliya Kulinenko came with her family from Donetsk as thousands of other people who had to leave their homes and their traditional way of life. However, this story is not just about obstacles, problems, and barriers on the way of IDPs, but how not to give up, to find strength to not only to settle down, to “root” in a new place, but even to “bear fruit”. Here, in the Kyiv region, Yuliya presents the Ukrainian origin of the Donbas, spreading local folklore (the Donetsk one), uniting women-IDPs around her in “Dyvyna”, people's theatre of folklore songs. Read about that in an interview to Hromadskiy Prostir which continues publishing women's success stories.
Artist: After our performance people say: Donetsk is Ukraine. Part 1
Artist: After our performance people say: Donetsk is Ukraine. Part 2
Hromadskiy Prostir: Does music help you overcome negative emotions?
Of course. It was really difficult for me to live without singing. I mean, it was psychologically difficult, but we have so many songs in the repertoire of our ensemble that there is a song which can be associated with any word you say, so you start humming it. You hum it, and you remember the voices, all the girls’ voices, you are trying to sing it as you do it in a choir, but you cannot do it alone and it annoys you so much, you get irritated. I started looking for girls from all the ensembles I knew, I wrote to them on all social networks, I started telephoning them and we found each other. There were six of us altogether. One of the girls had her second daughter living in Kyiv so she cannot sing now, one more girl has joined us recently so there are six of us currently. At the first rehearsal when we gathered at my place in Troyeshchyna (Kyiv district) we were singing non-stop for about three hours, we were just enjoying ourselves and relieving our souls.
Hromadskiy Prostir: Are you a conductor at these meetings now?
I would not say that I am a conductor. I just try to find variants for us to perform somewhere. We think that the head of our ensemble is still our leader, we ask for her advice and we rehearse songs via Skype with her if it is necessary, we telephone her. At Easter we found a sponsor and she was able to visit us.
Hromadskiy Prostir: What do you think, can music and art in general take us out of some internal or external conflict?
Yes, they help us. Now we are trying to show Donbas folklore as often as we can. After our performances people say that now they understand that Donetsk is Ukraine. There are a lot of events now, for example, Saint Andriy parties, and we try to revive the traditions of celebrating them. We collect what historians have preserved, organize some meeting to demonstrate it and tell people about these traditions, show, restore, revive them. In March we did summer spells on spring equinox day, before that there was Kolodiy Fest before Maslyana (the holiday which lasts during the last week before the lent). We are trying to show Ukrainian traditions first of all. There has been one moment which is very significant for me: teachers of our Troyeshchyna nursing school invited me to tell children about Ukrainian winter folk traditions. Can you imagine that? I am from Donetsk and I was invited to tell Kyivan children about Ukrainian traditions.
Hromadskiy Prostir: You ruin stereotypes...
And we are going to sing as long as people want to hear this. We will continue singing even if they do not want to listen to us any more. I hope that more and more people will want to hear us and realize that some things are not as definite as they seem here. The problem is like an apple — we may look at it from one side, from the second one or from the third one. We have seen the current situation from two sides at lest, but people who live here have seen only one side of the problem.
Hromadskiy Prostir: What do you think, will this conflict ever end?
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I am not a politician.
Hromadskiy Prostir: How would you like it to finish?
I want peace, of course.
Hromadskiy Prostir: Can music become this bridge that will facilitate understanding between people from Donetsk and Kyiv, from all regions of Ukraine? If politicians cannot unite us maybe music can?
I think so. We try to show that we are from Donetsk when we sing Donetsk folklore mostly. This creates some feedback and people start thinking. It is hard for me to explain this... Now, I am fascinated by one project which is called “I will be waiting for you under Kayse-dra”. It was suggested by Oksana Rozumna: there are refugees from Africa, there are internally displaced persons like us, and the problems such people face are the same. Probably, we can use songs to understand each other. I am looking forward to this event as I want to see what it will be like.
Hromadskiy Prostir: Would you like to tell something to people at the end of our interview?
Take care of yourselves, take care of you family and of all the people around you. You should leave your homes, go outside, be open to new information, new people and events. If you get stuck in one problem, it will eat you alive, you will be just moving in a circle and this problem will become bigger all the time. You should look for ways to solve it.
Interwiew: Lyubov Yeremycheva
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