Harmony in movement: Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov on building a connection that transcends worlds

Harmony in movement: Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov on building a connection that transcends worlds

Molly Cesanek was on a school vacation in 2018 when she received a call from her coach, asking if she would be interested in trying out with a boy from Ukraine. Of course, she said yes.

“I was very scared. I was kind of shy because I had had a few partners before, but for some reason, this made me feel excited inside. I just felt something. Like I should give it a try” -Molly

© Molly Cesanek | Instagram

On Yehor Yehorov’s part, his former coach in Ukraine showed him a video of Molly and asked if he wanted to meet with her. He flew to the U.S. where, under the supervision of Cesanek’s coaches at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy, they had their tryout. “We skated for a week and everything [felt] like fitting a puzzle together,” Yehorov said.

From there they had the choice of whether to represent Ukraine or the U.S., and ultimately decided on the latter.

“It’s been quite the journey, a lot of different worlds. We came together with different languages. Yehor knew some English, but when you are in the country, everything is spoken much faster. People use slang and [it’s] just different. It’s not easy to just go into a new country and absorb the entire language.

I remember how crazy it was thinking that our skating really was what we started with together. It wasn’t like we met or we talked about our histories. No, it was the skating first. And from the skating we showed each other things, different transitions or moments in the routine or exercises – that was how we communicated. And then from there, we both started learning. And he started learning more in English, and now he’s brilliant in English. And I have picked up on a lot of the skating Russian, because the coaches can talk to Yehor a lot in Russian, so I pick up different things. It’s kind of our own little language.” -Molly

They credit great communication skills as the root of their successful partnership. “If something is uncomfortable, we don’t move on. If somebody is a little discouraged, we can’t continue. [We always say] ‘Let’s just talk about what’s going on’. It could be [about] whatever and we always work through it and then continue because [at the core] is this harmony – that is the magic,” Molly explained. 

© Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov | Instagram

Favourite animal from their farm?

Molly: Tinkerbell, a miniature poodle. We got her when I was five.
Yehor: I love Garfield, one of the four cats we got from the shelter during quarantine last year.

As Yehorov previously competed for Ukraine internationally, the duo were only allowed to compete domestically in their first season together. He went on to receive the release needed to compete for the U.S. internationally after the 2018-19 season’s National Championships in Detroit.

They made their Junior Grand Prix debut the following season, placing sixth at both events, and finishing fourth at U.S. Nationals. Reflecting back on their first seasons together Yehor said, “We definitely learned a lot [in] our junior season, we learned [about] each other, we learned a lot in skating, we learned a lot of different strategies and things [that] we should do–” “Together,” Cesanek finished.

The 2020-21 season marked their debut on the senior level. The usual Grand Prix series was run domestically due to the pandemic and Cesanek and Yehorov were invited to compete at Skate America.

“I was crying in the car when we got the email.” Molly recalled. “I was driving home from practice and Yehor got the email and we had to pull over to the gas station to call my mom and dad because we were just so excited. And then when we got to Skate America, that was incredible. People kept apologising to us saying ‘so sorry that this is your first Skate America Grand Prix experience,’ and we just looked at them, like, ‘if there’s more…!’ We got to meet so many faces that we had watched and admired on TV, magazines, just everywhere. And they’re all incredible people who you would just want to hear their whole life story. It was just amazing to be amongst some of the greatest and–” “Top skaters in the country,” Yehor added.

© Molly Cesanek | Instagram

Following a fifth place finish at U.S. Nationals they were named as alternates to the World Championships in Stockholm, which the duo took very seriously.

“We kept training hard [up] until [the last second in] March when [the skaters] competed the rhythm dance. Because of the pandemic, you just don’t know, but even if there wasn’t a pandemic, we would still take it incredibly seriously. It was an incredible honour for us to be relied on by Team USA, to be seen in that light, and we wanted to be there for them.” -Molly

Yehorov received his green card in July this year, and for now is remaining patient whilst he applies for U.S. citizenship. Cesanek currently coaches ‘Learn to Skate’ and Yehorov is eager to start working with her. “For our future we want to have our own academy.” 

“I don’t know how that will happen but we want to work together. We want to be together and coach,” Cesanek added.

What's your favourite TV show or movie?

Molly: Harry Potter
Yehor: I love to watch YouTube! I don’t watch TV.

© Molly Cesanek | Instagram

This season, the required rhythms for ice dancers fall under the term “Street Dance Rhythms”, which include hip-hop, disco, and swing, to name a few.

Cesanek and Yehorov worked with Jimmie Manners, a new coach at WISA, to create their rhythm dance. Manners chose and arranged the music –Uptown Funk and 24K Magic by Bruno Mars for the Hip-Hop rhythm and a remix of Fallin’ by Alicia Keys as the required blues pattern. “He’s [an] amazing, creative person. Super energetic with a ton of endless ideas,” Yehorov said. Translating hip-hop onto the ice was “out of the box” for them, but a lot of fun.

“For us personally, we both are more from the background of ballet and that has definitely been such a journey – to learn how to move – because it’s super different. At first, I was very worried but we kept practising. Then we finally kind of started looking better, I think.” Cesanek said, adding that they improved by really observing Manners down to the small details.

The process of the free dance began before Nationals, listening to music and saving songs that piqued their interest. They worked with Hugo Chouinard and Karl Hugo to create the soundtrack to the program, starting with an iconic quote from Grey’s Anatomy followed by ‘The Wisp Sings’ and ‘You Are a Memory’, and an original composition by Karl Hugo, and ending with a quote from the movie Meet Joe Black.

Both were very involved with the music editing from the start, with Cesanek doing many rough drafts before sending them to Chouinard. “We’re in the 20s,” she said, on the amount of copies they created. Another notable part of the free program music is a breath half way through, as the music transitions into Hugo’s piece. Cesanek recorded the sound in her basement at night to avoid distractions.

“When we think back to how special this music was created. It was definitely a construction from the ground up. It’s beautiful.” -Molly

If you could watch one skating program on repeat all day, whose would it be?

Molly: Papadakis and Cizeron – Duet/Sunday afternoon
Hubbell and Donohue – Hallelujah
Yehor: I can’t just pick one skater because it’s really difficult.

© Molly Cesanek | Instagram

With the encouragement of their coaches, they messaged three-time Worlds medalist Kaitlyn Weaver about choreography, and were delighted to get a reply.

“She took on the project of choreographing our free dance, which we kind of didn’t know how long [it] would take. We actually drove [to Kaitlyn’s rink], so we were able to drive home whenever. We just enjoyed every moment. It was a different process.

We spent like 5-8 hours on the ice a day with her, and it took us a week. The way her mind just develops the program, it’s not like a run-on sentence. It’s just this beautiful story and she just […] emphasises different moments and highlights. It was very, very fun to be with her.

Every choreographer is different. We enjoy [and] love getting at-home choreography, but we [also] just love learning from as many different minds as we can. To [be able to] collaborate with people and just bring as many brains [as possible] into our programs  ultimately creates something really special and unique.” -Molly

The duo worked with their usual designer, Alisa Mandel, to create both costumes.

“[For] the free dance, I really wanted a dress that did not make any statement at all. I wanted it to be tan but that idea passed and we went with red just because it’s about love. I wanted it to be really really minimal, so it had no distracting element,” Molly explained. They credit Mandel for suggesting an ombré effect and adding “magnificent” stoning to the top half of the dress by hand.

© Molly Cesanek

What is one favourite quality about each other?

Molly: If I am only allowed to name one thing about Yehor, it is his passion. He is very passionate about every aspect of his life – be it skating, fishing, his family and friends, me or being good to others. It is a very unique quality and just very, very beautiful to be next to every day.
Yehor: I just love everything about Molly. It is an amazing journey to be by her side and she’s the most thoughtful and kind person I have ever met. Ever since I came here she has been so patient to me. She is so hard-working and dedicated towards everything in life!

Cesanek and Yehorov don’t have traditional goals for the season. “Our biggest goal is to bring goodness to skating, to the skating community, [and to] the skating world. Just let people enjoy our skating,” Yehor said. “We enjoy our programs, they’re very special to us and [we] want to share [that] with people, and bring people joy. And [when it comes to] competitive results, we will leave everything to the judges and the coaches.” “It’s out of our control,” Molly added.

Yehorov continued, “we’re doing our job, we’re enjoying our journey, we’re honoured to represent our country. And just, hopefully, all people, all audiences, will enjoy this season and every season and everybody’s programs.”

“We always love to improve. We always– at [every] competition–try to enjoy how far we’ve come to that point and recognise that. I think it’s really easy to just kind of let life just go, go, go, but we try to take a step back and appreciate everything.” -Molly

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