Macedonia's Eurovision 2017 contest, Jana Burčeska, may not have made it to the final, but she still drew lots of attention after her now fiancée proposed to her at the competition.
Hromadske's Volodymyr Solohub sat down with Burčeska to ask her about the Eurovision 2017 competition, her plans for the future and her impressions of Ukraine.
Burčeska's now fiancée proposed to her on live television in front of millions of viewers. The singer was very excited about the proposal, "All of a sudden he was on his knees. I think my eyes shut down, I couldn’t hear but he was saying something and I just assumed he was saying 'will you marry me'," she recalled. "I was speechless. All I wanted was to hug him and kiss him and tell him I really love him and that’s the proof of eternal love."
Burčeska also said that they are planning to have the wedding in Macedonia, after the couple's baby is born.
Although she didn't make it to the final, Burčeska had nothing but good things to say about the competition: "It was by the far the best experience I have ever had in my life. I learned so much. I personally grew a lot, which is the biggest thing that can happen to a person long term," she said.
Burčeska also felt that she was a good ambassador for her country, "I think I have done a lot for myself and also for my country because now everyone is talking about Macedonia!" –she said, "Everyone loves the song and it doesn’t matter if it qualified or not."
Having never been to Ukraine before, Burčeska also shared her first impressions of the country: "The people were really nice and helpful, the food is amazing," she said. "My all time favourite Ukrainian dish is vereniki with cherries...I think they're turning into my official pregnancy craving."
Despite the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Burčeska didn't have any concerns about safety or security when coming to Ukraine. "I knew that the organizers of Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Union would make sure everyone is safe," she said. "Although I am concerned in general about what’s going on Ukraine, I just didn’t think it would really affect us."
Burčeska described the competition's organization and impeccable. She also appreciated that the contestants had the opportunity to contribute to the look of the final show: "The sound engineers and the people in charge of staging were very helpful and listened to us very carefully. They were very open to communication and accepting of our suggestions," she explained.
Burčeska also intends to bring her positive impressions of Ukraine back to Macedonia. She urged others to go to Ukraine and see the country for themselves. "Leave all stereotypes on the side, throw them away," she advised. "Experience Ukraine the way it's supposed to be experienced."
Jana the first and obvious question, you’ve made the headlines due to the surprise proposal from your now fiancee, Alexander, which was made on live television. Millions of viewers saw that, how did you feel?
Jana Burčeska: Oh my God. The first thing that came to my mind is thank God I’m not standing. Thank God I’m seated so I don’t fall. And then hosts came to us and he was like how do you feel after the performance, you announced such big news like the baby, is the father here? Yes he’s sitting next to me and then all of a sudden he was on his knees. I think my eyes shut down, I couldn’t hear but he was saying something and I just assumed he was saying “will you marry me”. I was speechless. All I wanted was to hug him and kiss him and tell him I really love him and that’s the proof of eternal love.
Exactly. So now that you’re officially engaged what are your next plans?
Jana Burčeska: Well, like I said, you know, in the excitement in the green room, everyone is invited to our wedding. We even had this crazy idea of having our wedding at the final today but it was just very very wild day dreaming. The next step will be a wedding when we get back home, with our closest friends and relatives, and then start thinking where to put the baby bed.
Can we talk a little bit about the competition itself? Unfortunately you didn’t make it to the finals, sorry about that. What are your impressions from the competition overall?
Jana Burčeska: It was by the far the best experience I have ever had in my life. I learned so much. I personally grew a lot, which is the biggest thing that can happen to a person long term. I met so many wonderful people, some of the artists, some members of delegations. We got very close with Malta. We hung out a lot with Montenegro. Those are all contacts that are in my network now and can help me further on in my career. Also the live performance was such an amazing experience. I have overcome myself by actually succeeding and dancing and singing at the same time. I think I have done a lot for myself and also for my country because now everyone is talking about Macedonia! Everyone loves the song and it doesn’t matter if it qualified or not. “Dance Alone” is a hit and it’s going to remain a hit for quite some time I think. So that’s it. I think I’ve been a pretty decent ambassador for my country.
So Jana, tell me about Ukraine. This is your first time in the country, what are your impression.
Jana Burčeska: Considering the fact that we had a tight schedule, I didn’t get to see much of Kyiv. But some general impressions I can share with you. The people are really nice and helpful, the food is amazing. I’ve had so much food, like trout stuff with spinach, the vareniki, my all time favourite Ukrainian dish: vareniki with cherries, I eat them everyday.
When you were coming here, this is a country at war, there is a war going on 600 km from where we sit right now. Did you have any concerns about safety or security?
Jana Burčeska: Not really, because I knew that the organizers of Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Union would make sure everyone is safe. And 600 km is pretty far. Although I am concerned in general about what’s going on Ukraine I just didn’t think it would really affect us.
If we can talk about the technical parts of the organization, how well was the competition organized? You as a participant, how did you feel?
Jana Burčeska: Impeccable, impeccable organization. Perfect timing. There was procedure for everything. I really liked that as a contestant I had a chance to contribute to how the final show will look by giving my suggestions in the viewing room. For those who don’t know what the viewing room is it’s where you go after the rehearsal to review how your song and performance looked on stage. The sound engineers and the people in charge of staging were very helpful and listened to us very carefully. They were very open to communication and accepting of our suggestions. Let’s say straight as.
When you go back to Macedonia, when you meet your friends, your colleagues and they ask you how was Ukraine, what will you say to them?
Jana Burčeska: I will definitely suggest they go see for themselves. They would enjoy it. I would tell them to leave all the stereotypes on the side, throw them away, and experience Ukraine the way it’s supposed to be experienced.
/Interview by Volodymyr Solohub
/Text by Eilish Hart