choreographer and performer
"For all of us, including medical staff, it is important to learn to listen, to understand the need of the other and to remain human, with all our imperfections. I think that the friendly relationship and empathy create a lasting bond between the doctor and the patient “, says Iskra Shukarova, choreographer and performer.
Iskra Shukarova, choreographer and performer, is known to the world’s culture public for her projects performed on the stages of New York, London, Berlin, Dublin, Belgrade, Zagreb, Sofia. She specialized in contemporary dance at the National Conservatory “Superior” in Lyon, France, and completed her Master’s studies at the “Laban Center” in London, Great Britain. In 2014, she completed her Doctoral studies at FDU-UKIM in Skopje. She has a prosperous career behind her as a prominent soloist at the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, as a choreographer, and in the last decade as a pedagogue – full-time professor at FMU – UKIM, Department of Ballet Pedagogy, Contemporary Dance.
We talked to her about the emotions and empathy that develop in dancing, and about her positive and negative experiences as a patient.
- Contemporary dance is one of the most expressive art forms. Tell us about the way you express your emotions?
People in all professions encounter positive or negative emotions. In dancing, emotions can be expressed without any words, through body movements and gestures, during the dance. Releasing them allows us to overcome problems more easily, to get out of the daily routine, to “rise” above reality.
The dancer can perfect their role flawlessly from a technical point of view, but if they do not include emotions, the audience cannot experience the story. Once you enter the role of a certain character emotionally, it becomes a part of you.
We dance both when we are happy and when we are sad, guided by the creativity that we carry within ourselves. We start with ballet in early childhood. Dancing, like medicine, requires a lot of work, dedication and love.
- Why is empathy characteristic of contemporary dance?
As a choreographer, I have worked on many projects, with different dancers, on different stages in Europe and the World. The cooperation with the New York Live Arts theater, in the USA, which began to develop since 1998, is particularly significant to me.
Good dancers feel the movement and know how to recognize body language. With the emotion and energy we create on stage, we produce strong feedback from the audience, and empathy starts developing. We perceive if what we give of ourselves is enough, or if we can do more.
As a teacher, I know exactly when students are anxious, disinterested, scared, or happy and satisfied. In my work, as a teacher, the trust of the students is very important to me. It can only develop if I empathize with them, if I show understanding for their dilemmas and problems, and if I know how to share joy with them.
All of us, including medical staff, should learn to listen, to feel the need of the other, and to remain human, despite our imperfections.
- Do you remember any strong emotion and have any positive or negative experience when you were in the role of a “patient?”
Yes. I have had many positive experiences. But unfortunately, one negative experience has strongly remained in my memory. Maybe because it is a leg injury, and it affects my daily work. I simply felt “betrayed” by a doctor whom I trusted and was loyal to. It happened as a result of huge unprofessionalism, dilettantism and avoidance of responsibility on the part of the doctor. Without sufficient expertise, the doctor performed a laser intervention on my skin, and a large injury occurred, which was very difficult to heal, and left a large scar.
I felt very helpless and scared. Medical errors happen, but in my case it was very bad and instead of empathy from the person who treated me, I was accused for the consequences of the intervention.
- From this aspect, what qualities should the doctor possess whose patient you would like to be?
When I go for an examination or an intervention, the most important thing for me is the professionalism of the doctor and the medical team. I have been in contact with doctors since my earliest days. My grandfather, Ljubomir Shukarov, was one of the founders of the Clinical Center, a gynecologist, whose name evokes many positive emotions in his patients. He always had a smile and a positive thought, with a sincere and human approach. He is remembered as a professional with top expertise, dedicated to his work. I think that doctors should possess similar qualities. I think that the friendly relationship and empathy create a lasting bond between the doctor and the patient.