By Carol Tannenhauser
Polina Nikitina arrived in New York from Kyiv, Ukraine, via Cyprus and Miami last fall, the day before she started as a senior at the Dwight School on W. 89th Street off Central Park West.
“Following winter break last year, we were unable to return to school in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion,” she explains in an interview on Dwight’s website. It will be a year on Friday, February 24, since the war began. “Our school was shut down and we were scattered. I lost all of my friends because we were torn apart.” To make matters worse for Polina, who has been writing songs since she was seven, “I wasn’t creating anything musically. The only thing I could think of writing about was Ukraine so that I could support the people I loved and my culture.”
She reached out to her friend and schoolmate Martin, who had landed in Italy and wrote music for films. He composed a song, for which Polina wrote the lyrics and created storyboards and character sketches for a video. She then sent them off to artist friends still living in Ukraine to complete and animate.
“Every time our ideas didn’t match, it took days or weeks for us to come to a solution. Sometimes we lost connection completely due to power outages in Ukraine. However, in the end, the process proved to be rewarding and we completed it after six months,” Polina says. “As artists, ‘Gotham’ was our way of expressing patriotism and the pain we felt as a nation due to the continuous Russian crimes against us, while also presenting a shred of hope for our people. The video includes a number of Ukrainian cultural symbols and legends, and the song is dedicated to Ukraine and its bravery.”
Here is “Gotham”: