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Guest Post: Introducing Svetlana Zralko

By Jennifer King

On New Year's Eve, a plane landed at ABIA with the newest member of the Austin bellydance community. Svetlana Zralko, an award-winning professional bellydancer, costume designer, and competition judge, along with her husband and two sons, have relocated to Austin from Sevastopol, Ukraine. Svetlana aims to showcase her talents both on and off the stage, and hopes to contribute to the local bellydance community.

Svetlana's background is in ballroom dancing, but she fell in love with bellydance when a friend introduced her to it. Since 2006, she has been performing, teaching, and participating in competitions. Svetlana teaches various styles of bellydance, including raks sharki, tabla solo, and performance bellydance. She believes that the emotional connection with the audience is more important than good technique and that the joy of the dance is what makes a performance memorable.

Svetlana is a highly accomplished dancer who has won many prestigious international awards. Some of her notable achievements include being crowned the Ukrainian Professional Champion in 2010, the Russian Professional Champion in 2018, the Couturier of the Year in 2015, and the Best Designer in 2019. In 2016, she co-founded a professional dance troupe called "Alliance" with four other talented dancers. Together, they performed and competed in various festivals across Barcelona, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, and managed to secure first-place awards in various dance styles. The group also organized workshops and social events featuring guest instructors and dance competitions. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and other personal commitments, the group had to disband.

Svetlana is a talented dancer and performer, who has become one of the most sought-after belly dance designers in the world. She knows how to sew, and her skills have helped her create beautiful and modern belly dance costumes with lots of sparkle. Her designs include swirling skirts, ombre chiffons, and interesting prints. Svetlana's clients are involved in the design process, and they get to select colors, fabrics, and accents. Her meticulous sketches bring her creations to life. Depending on the complexity of the design, her costumes can take 1-3 months to complete.

Apart from designing costumes, Svetlana also makes wonderful accessories to complete the dancer's image. Her open-work jewelry includes dozens of designs for earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, belts, headbands, and hair clips. Her rhinestone bangles are particularly striking in their simplicity and comfort.

If you're interested in Svetlana's work, you may have seen her perform at shows around Austin and Central Texas this year. You can also find her stunning jewelry at belly dance events or in her Etsy store.

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