CatenArt Masterclass in Vienna with acclaimed Ukrainian vocalist Natalia Polovinka
The first edition of our « Act of Singing » workshop took place from December 14 to 18, 2015, in Vienna, Austria. This masterclass was led by Natalka Polovinka, Ukrainian singer and theatre actress. Ten singers, from Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and the Ukraine, gathered around Mrs. Polovinka to learn Ukrainian traditional songs.
Natalka Polovinka has developed a methodology at the crossroads of music and spirituality, which she now teaches in the most prestigious universities in the USA (Columbia University) and in England. “I have been singing since my earliest childhood. In the Ukraine, we all sing. Singing is so much part of life, and it teaches us so much about it that, for us, to speak and to sing is almost one and the same thing. Ukrainian songs are our most immediate language when it comes to communicate the things of life…”
During a series of classes and performances, Mrs. Polovinka stressed that the greatest challenge for singers is not the mastering of a technique. The greatest challenge lies upstream and it involves the whole person.
“Growing up I was surrounded by wonderful teachers. Through classical music education and theatre work, I got to meet Jerzy Grotowski*. With him I started to become more aware of what is involved in the act of singing. My theatre and music work opened my understanding of singing as a holistic action of the person.”
The 5-day masterclass offered daily workshops during which participants were successively challenged to acquire a sense of space and of their body in that space, and singing classes based mostly on Ukrainian traditional songs and their liturgical roots.
Natalka led participants back to the source of traditional music: the human experience, in its personal and communal dimensions. Her method is therefore to start from each individual singer’s experience: the foundation of their existence, what motivates them deep inside. “I’m not going to impose mechanisms on you”, she told them, but I can come close to you, and help you discover that G-point in yourself…”
Using music and theatre, the Ukrainian master challenged participants to engage wholeheartedly with reality, thus allowing beauty to spring forth from inside. “It is not the song itself that matters, but the inner attitude of the person, that unique presence which is the true substance of songs.”
The masterclass ended with a memorable performance and a deep sense of gratitude and joy.
* : Jerzy Grotowski is a groundbreaking Polish theatre director and theorist, whose approach to acting, training and theatrical production has significantly influenced contemporary theatre.