Margarita (Rita) Rebetskaia
Margarita Rebetskaia - dancer, choreographer and dance instructor. Was born in Moscow (Russia), started doing rhythmic gymnastics at 5. At age of 14 was accepted to Igor Moiseyev Dance Academy where she was trained in ballet and jazz, and mostly character and international popular dances such as Russian, Polish, Ukranian, Moldovian Argentinan, Spanish, Korean and many others. After graduating was accepted to Igor Moiseyev Ballet – worldwide famous international popular dance company founded by soloist of Bolshoi theater Igor Moiseyev in 1937. In the company she performed as a Carmen in “Spanish ballade” (music by Pablo Di Luna), had solo part in Argentinian Tango, Bulgarian, Gypsy and etc. Margarita toured with the company around the world and performed in the main stages in Europe, North America, China , Dubai and many others such as Bolshoi theatre in Moscow, Palais des Congres in Paris, New York City Center etc..
Also graduated from Russian Academy of Arts as a theatre critic and founded an inclusive theatre company called InterAction.
Moved to Canada with her family in 2021. In 2021-2022 did Professional Training Program in Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary. Recently was hired by Alberta ballet school and Decidedly Jazz as a character and ballet teacher. Currently as a dancer joined Dancing Monkey Laboratory for their new theatre production “Sublimity”.
Col Cseke is a theatre artist based in Calgary and the Artistic & Executive Director of Inside Out Theatre, Calgary’s Deaf and Disability Theatre company. His work as a theatre artist and community organizer revolves around disability justice and Mad pride, poverty reduction and labour rights, community belonging and supporting artists to spur social change
We’d love to hear about your experience in the Immigrant Arts Mentorship Program! What was the process like and how did it meet or exceed your expectations?
Col: The experience for me was really fantastic, I think largely because Rita and I made a really great pair. The matchmaking was really awesome and we just got along really well. I think our personalities fit and interests really align.
I come predominantly from a theatre background and Rita came from a dance background but we still found great common ground. And so there was a fair bit of learning about each other and each other’s practices and then of course, it was super interesting for me to learn about how the arts world works in Russia compared to Canada, and vice versa. So overall - a big thumbs up!
Rita: There was a lot of discovery during the Immigrant Arts Mentorship Program. I’ve only been in Canada for a year at the time so I was still in shock about a lot of things here. When it came to finding the art world here, there were a lot more mental and personal discoveries, in a good way. So I think I worked through a lot of emotional kind of trauma that I got during my professional career before. And as Col said, we were a great match.
It wasn’t just about art immigration but also a lot about my own personal transformation as an artist here, being in this particular moment of my life here, choosing what to do, seeing what kind of opportunities this city and country can offer to me. Col was a great guide and support in this journey.
"I thought it was really cool that they matched me not with a dancer because my interests don’t just lie there. It’s much wider.
How has IAMP changed your viewpoint on the local arts community and structure?
Col: There were discoveries along the way about some of the challenges happening within our arts community, largely around the unspoken rules about how the arts works in Calgary, how informal they can be and how relationship based things often are.
It was a really important reminder for me about just how much of a challenge or a barrier that can be for newcomer artists, whether its an artist coming from a different country, a different city, or emerging local artists and particularly folks who haven’t come up through the traditional university or other training programs. So for me again it was a really eye opening experience about some of the barriers that are super present in our community.
Rita: I grew up thinking that I chose this profession myself, so I can’t blame anyone for things being hard at times. But I also acknowledge that it's not the primary economic concern to invest in immigrant artists because they are already local artists and maybe would rather invest in them. So it was just my view about Canada and how there are so many immigrants, so why don’t we help them to keep on doing their art here - we can enrich the art environment here.
"Knowing that here I can find a program that is specific to helping immigrants in the arts, and to help artists stay artists, to support them to keep doing their work even after immigration - that’s really amazing." - Rita
What were the highlights of your pairing and how did you support each other in this collaboration?
Rita: Closer to the end of the program, we applied for the Canada Council for the Arts grant and we worked together very closely to discuss the application process. Sometimes we just needed time to figure out what theatre we wanted to do next. Col introduced me to a lot of amazing people in Calgary so that was really wonderful as well.
The grant was my idea because I figured the best way to learn about things here is through actual practice, through which I could better understand how to be a director or a producer here and how I can launch my own projects in Canada. During the program I met amazing dancers from Syria - Zaria and Mario. They were in the same cohort with me and I was really inspired by them, so I told Col that I wanted to set up a show with them.
Col completely supported me and we started looking for opportunities right away and found the Canada Council for the Arts for Reach and Creation. We applied with a lot of help from Col and it all paid off, we succeeded and got the grant. Col and I are still working together and collaborating.
Col: It’s really exciting! And I think again this just shows a good personality match as well.
"Both Rita and I are doers. We just want to get things done and get excited about keeping things moving along, exploring more opportunities and ideas. I’m really glad we were successful with the funding and able to create a show. Working with Zaria and Mario as well is really exciting." - Col
What else are you currently working on?
Col: We both have shows happening, even this week as we speak.
Rita: Before IAMP, I was mostly teaching and worked as a dance instructor. But because of the program, the information they gave us, all the connections that Col helped me with, I now have 3 shows where I am either a dancer, a choreographer or a movement director. And there is more to come. This isn’t the end. I know there will be a lot more to still be a part of in the community.
Col: I’ve been quite busy. My full-time job is at Inside Out Theatre and we have a show running this week, which I was a producer on. It is a deaf artists led production, with deaf artists and hearing artists working together, so that’s been really exciting. Then I’ll be jumping right into rehearsals for our next show, which is a theatre for young audiences with actors with disabilities in it.
I am directing this project too so I really look forward to being back in the rehearsal hall with folks. And after that there is another project that starts a week after. It’s a busy and full but very exciting Spring this year. I’ll say it worked out for us because I really do believe there is no replacement for creating and getting to practice, rehearse and perform for folks.
How can programs like these be further supported by locals and the government?
Col: Another discovery was one of the other barriers and challenges for newcomer artists is how their status affects their eligibility for arts funding in Canada. So what we discovered is the Calgary Arts Development, our local arts funder does not have citizenship or residency requirements. You have to live in Calgary but you don’t have to be a citizen and you’re not required to have lived here for very long.
But both at the provincial level and federal level, even after being here for more than a year, Rita wasn’t eligible to receive any public money through the arts grantors. So the grant we received had to come in through my name.
It worked out great for us but I know not every newcomer artist has an eligible friend who can help write and submit a grant in their name. So challenges like that are still super present. But I’ve been so impressed with Rita really getting out there, learning about all the local performance companies, going to see their work, meeting people, keeping a strong eye out for workshops and audition calls.
Sure, I was able to create some introductions and it was just me trying to open some doors but Rita was the one who went through them, kicked the doors down when she had to and took advantage of it. She really showed the value of getting out there with persistence and meeting as many people as you can. That’s a trait of Rita’s that I noticed and really appreciated. Opportunities aren’t necessarily going to come to you, so it’s highly important to keep an eye out for them.
"I’ve been so impressed with Rita really getting out there, learning about all the local performance companies, going to see their work, meeting people, keeping a strong eye out for workshops and audition calls." - Col
Rita: I’ve already had experience working on my own projects back in Russia. There were so many barriers I’ve had to overcome and my community would often say to look at these experiences as opportunities instead of barriers. Now I have moments where I think sometimes it’s just a barrier. So here our community is so friendly and so welcomed.
"I just had this instrument in my hands through Col and through ICAI, who allowed me to continue doing what I do and translate who I am and what I love here.
Rita: This is very recent news and just became official, another thing that I have in my pocket thanks to Col, is I got accepted into the university program.
Thanks to Col, I found out about the drama faculty at the University of Calgary. I heard about the interdisciplinary master's program which is a perfect way for me to really integrate into the Canadian arts community, with an education.
Last notes and advice for newcomers
"I would tell them that you are never going to be perfectly fit anywhere. You just need to be more flexible and open-minded and to not be afraid to transform yourself." - Rita
Rita: I find that for newcomers and artist newcomers, it can be so tempting and easy to just give up when they first arrive. It can be too easy to think that you are not perfectly fit because all the spots are now full.
I would tell them that you are never going to be perfectly fit anywhere. You just need to be more flexible and open-minded and to not be afraid to transform yourself. See how the whole community works and where you are needed, knowing what your strengths are, knowing what you still need to work on, realizing what you still need to adjust within this particular community. That is my hot tip!
Inside Out Theatre