If you haven’t heard of Tatiana Navka, chances are, you will soon be seeing or reading more of her in social media. The 41-year-old Olympic skating champion, who is married to Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, and her dancing partner Andrei Burkovsky have created quite a firestorm with their ice-skating dance routine for an episode of “Ice Age,” a Russian TV show.
Navka and Burkovsky (a theater actor) were dressed in gray-striped uniforms with the yellow six-pointed Star of David patched on them. Both dancers were made up to look emaciated and bruised–-and there was no mistaking the reference to prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Looking forlorn, the dancers start the routine by staring at each other before they suddenly break into huge grins on their faces and prance around the rink and pantomime taking out something (although it also seemed as if they were trying to plant a tree) and playing around with one can only suppose is an imaginary child.
A dead giveaway that the performance has been based on the 1997 Italian film “Life is Beautiful” starring Roberto Benigni is the accompanying music—the theme song from the said film with the voice of Israeli singer Achinoam “Noa” Nini soaring beautifully. Those familiar with the Italian film set in 1939 would know that it features a man who makes his son think that their interment in a Nazi concentration camp is just a game, telling him to obey orders to earn points and win the final prize—which is a tank.
The skating duo’s performance ends with bright lights suddenly illuminating the man, followed by a burst of machine gun fire with the light fading, leaving the woman looking shocked and stricken, and carrying something which again we suppose is an imaginary child.
While the judges gave the pair perfect scores for their routine, it earned condemnation on social media because many think it trivialized the Holocaust—a period that continues to be painful to the people of Israel. Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev blasted it, saying Holocaust themes are not for dance, not for parties or reality TV, adding that “not one of the six million danced and a concentration camp is not a summer camp.”
Navka defended her routine, saying it was actually done to make people remember the horrors of the concentration camp. Ironically, the dance was choreographed by a Jew himself, 2002 Olympics silver medalist Ilya Averbukh. who also happens to be the producer of the TV show Ice Age.
Some were impressed by the routine, saying it brought tears to their eyes, looking at it as a refreshing way to commemorate the Holocaust and its victims. There were more criticisms, however, saying it is an atrocity to celebrate a period of atrocity, pointing out that the painful period is real, not just a dance routine on reality TV. One Instagram user even called Navka “very sick,” adding that “6 million are dead. It’s not art, it’s very sick. U should apologize.”
We are just curious though why Navka was getting more condemnation than her partner. Perhaps because she is the wife of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson? But for many, the more interesting question however is when artistry ceases to be artistic, and if there should be a limit to creative license. We’re no experts, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so perhaps this also applies to dancing. We leave it to you to decide.
For comments, reactions, photos, stories and related concerns, readers may email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit and like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happyhourmanilastandard. Cheers!