“I can say that thanks to Para dance sport, thanks to my kids, these are two things that help me get back to life, to feel that you have to do this. You have to look past everything and just go forward, and I think that these – dance sport and kids – help me. And these are what I live for.”
Even when his number was not called to the floor, Ukraine’s Ivan Sivak was still dancing on the side during the 2018 World Para Dance European Championships in Lomianki, Poland.
During morning warm-ups, he would improvise a routine with his teammates.
At the end of each competition day, Sivak would have fun taking photos with other dancers.
The 37-year-old world champion was full of life throughout the three days of November’s Championships.
His sources of energy were clear.
“I can say that thanks to Para dance sport, thanks to my kids, these are two things that help me get back to life, to feel that you have to do this,” Sivak said.
“You have to look past everything and just go forward, and I think that these – dance sport and kids – help me. And these are what I live for.”
Tragedy leads to triumph
It is a stark contrast to two years ago, when at the 2016 Europeans Sivak’s presence was missed.
His wife and dance partner Nadiia sadly passed away before those Championships, and he did not compete.
As a duo, they won world and European titles.
In Lomianki, when his number was called to dance in the men’s singles standard 1, Sivak charmed the judges and audiences. With four dancers on the floor at once, Sivak stood out. He graced each corner from waltz, to jive and tango that had the nine judges mark “1” across their tablets.
The score earned Sivak his first singles title at a European Championships.
“Personally for me this gold medal means a lot of things,” Sivak said. “It is an evaluation of those efforts, those impacts made by coaches, supporters, the government, all those people and institutes who made me able to be here and won the gold medal.”
For an exhibition in Lomianki, Sivak performed his singles freestyle “jokester” routine that won him the 2017 World Championship title.
The men’s singles freestyle event was not part of the European Championship programme, but his winning performance has become a fan favourite. It is not known if he will change it up for the 2019 World Championships.
“I want to develop and promote Para dance sport around the globe,” Sivak explained.
“Through athletes’ efforts at each new international event, they can show that they can become more professional with having a new vision of a dance, or show some new moves or new techniques, and bring their dance to a higher level than before.”
When he knows others care and are watching, he has an extra motivation.
“I would like to thank all of those people who wrote me on Facebook and other messengers, who sent me their words of support,” he said. “When I read their words, at that moment I already know I can’t and won’t let them down. And those words help me come back to the sport.”