Our Dancing Family: The Ponomareva/Kuznietsov Family

Family Photo by Water Bear Photography | Beach Photos by Johnston Photography

Dance is just a part of life for Julia Ponomareva, Alexsey Kuznietsov and their daughter, Karolina. As principal dancers for Dance Alive National Ballet in Gainesville, Julia and Alexsey have each been dancing for over 20 years.

Julia’s dance career started in Russia when she was just 10 years old. At the urging of her grandmothers, she enrolled in ballet school, where she expected a life of pretty tutus and pointe shoes. “It wasn’t quite like that. Instead, I had to stand at the barre and repeat movements that were very boring and very slow and painful,” said Julia. However, over time, ballet grew to be something she loved, and now she delights in taking her performances to the stage.

Alexsey got his start in ballet at the age of 6 in Ukraine, where he enrolled in classes with his sister. His teachers noticed his potential and urged him to apply to a professional ballet school, to which he was accepted at just 10 years old. Ballet brought the two together in 2011 when they met while dancing for the Croatian National Ballet. Just one year later found them both moving to Gainesville to pursue careers with Dance Alive National Ballet. “Gainesville is a very laidback community with a warm country feeling that still has great cultural opportunities,” said Julia. “Few cities offer such opportunities, and the ones that do all have the many disadvantages of big city life.”

In 2016, Julia and Alex welcomed their daughter, Karolina (1 ½), who now tags along with her parents at the dance studio almost every day. “Children pick up things from their surroundings, including words and movement patterns,” said Julia. “[Dance] also develops intellectual abilities, including memory functioning and visuospatial skills.” As Karolina watches her parents dance and copies their movements, it is Julia and Alexsey’s hope that she will begin developing some of those skills for herself.

The two said that while there is no pressure for Karolina to follow in their footsteps and become a professional dancer, they would love for Karolina to take ballet classes in the future. “We feel that dancing enhances physical, emotional and intellectual development and we know that it an excellent form of exercise,” said Julia. “It also contributes to an overall sense of happiness.”