At ten years of age Kristina Bonvalenko discovered Irish dancing in her school concert in Odessa Ukraine.
Little did she know that six years later she would be teaching Irish dancing to Ukrainian children in Dublin but also living in Ireland as a refugee from war.
16 year old Kristina now lives with her mother in Lucan Dublin, with a host family where she also goes to school.
“Everything is fine, we are very comfortable” , says Kristina of her new life in Dublin.
She and her mother left Odessa nine months ago as the war in Ukraine intensified.
Now, every Saturday and Wednesday Kristina teaches Irish dancing to young Ukrainian children at the Rathmines Community Centre for Ukrainian refugees.
“I first learnt Irish dancing in Odessa six years ago in a school concert, I really loved the dancing, it as very unusual and interesting” explains Kristina. The dancer went to Irish dancing classes in Odessa. “I went to an Irish dancing school in Odessa; yes there are two! And I am now dancing for six years. Of course I saw Riverdance and I hope to go to see it this summer, I have never seen it live before.”
Kristina teaches children Irish reels to the children on Saturdays at 2pm and on Wednesdays at 3.30pm.
“The reel is the first dance all the children learn, they are very good, they learn very fast and very well” says Kristina.