Pétia Iourtchenko is a visionary Roma dancer, choreographer and teacher who honours the Russian tradition of Roma dance whilst fusing it with other Roma dance styles. Iourtchenko was born into the Vlach Roma community in the industrial Ukrainian city of Donetsk in 1957. At the age of sixteen, he successfully auditioned to become part of the prestigious Teatr Romen, which had been founded in Moscow in 1931. He took part in performances immediately after joining the company, becoming the youngest actor, dancer and singer in the history of the theatre company.
At the same time he was training at the Gnesenikh Institute, studying theatre arts, dance, voice and art history. From 1974 to 1988, he performed on stages all over Russia, as well as abroad (Japan, India, the former Yugoslavia, France and many other countries). In 1988, he appeared with the troupe for the first time at the Theatre Mogador in Paris. In 1989, he left Theatr Romen and returned to Paris, where he performed in various cabarets, in particular at the Balalaika, a venue where many eastern European artists also appeared. There he met Pascal de Loutchek, a singer and guitarist from Russia, and Lilia Dalskaia, a singer and former Theatre Romen actress. Together they formed the Arbat Trio, which went on to perform in New York, London, Oslo, Madrid, Budapest and many other cities, making festival appearances and recording three albums.
In 1994, Iourtchenko and his wife, Anne-Marie Iourtchenko, founded the company Romano Atmo (which means ‘Roma Soul’ in Romani) in Paris, with the aim of preserving Roma culture, traditions and dance. Iourtchenko is the creator of a Roma dance method – a choreographic language that draws upon the traditions of his homeland and on Roma cultures from across Europe.
Since 1994, Iourtchenko has been teaching his dance method to ‘non-Roma’ and has worked at the Académie des arts chorégraphiques in Cité Véron, Paris (which is part of the association MTK La Danse). Since 2010, he has also taught drama students at the International Film and Television School Paris (EICAR). In 2005, he worked with Marie-Claude Pietragalla and Julien Derouault on the production, Ivresse and he has also appeared with the Romano Atmo company in the cinema production Rires et châtiments, directed by Isabelle Doval with José Garcia. In 2011, he appeared in the film Rockstar with Ranbir Kapur.