Diana is a professional dancer with many years` experience of working abroad as a member of international dance teams. She is the owner of Selfbalance studio in Kyiv which is not just a great place to learn how to dance but to get a chance to build strong self-confidence, to work through hidden psychological issues and to express every beautiful and bright side of one`s personality. We’ve met with Diana to ask her about her perception of party life in Kyiv.
How can you describe the modern nightlife of Kyiv? What has changed? How do we rest now and what parties can we expect in Kyiv in the nearest future?
Now the night life is getting much brighter. People travel more, they see how people rest in other countries, and they bring their impressions here, they share them. As a result, new interesting projects appear in Kyiv. Abroad people are very active in dancing, and in Kyiv there are many restaurants and clubs which implement the dance format, inviting famous world dance stars. Latin American dances are very popular in Kyiv now, so we start to dance more.
Why do you think these dances are so popular among Ukrainians? Could waltzes and classical European dances match us more?
We have many different styles. Recently, an annual Viennese ball has been held in Kyiv City Administration Center. People are open to different styles. And such TV projects as "Dancing with the Stars" also contribute to the fact that dances are becoming popular; and people want to dance. Our dance culture is evolving; people start to discover it.
There are both Ukrainians and foreigners among your clients. All of them come here to dance. What differs us and what do we have in common in terms of temperament and attitude to dancing?
Our students are special students. People who want to develop, not just dance, but be positively filled with movement, come here. Although there really is a difference between Ukrainians and foreigners, and it is the open-mind approach of foreigners, their openness and how they communicate, it is different. Our people need a little more time to open up. The reasons hide in our post-Soviet past, as I think. It influenced our style of communication with the outside world. But now everything is changing noticeably. People become kinder, more cheerful, more energetic, although while foreigners in this sense are still more easy going and open.
Is it difficult to study dancing?
If you can walk, you can dance. Nothing is impossible. But it's all very individual. Everyone perceives information in their own way. Someone takes it through associations, some people need to touch, others need to see or hear. All points are taken into account in our classes, and we are always looking for an individual approach to our students.
If we talk about men and women, who expects what in terms of nightlife in Kyiv?
Here it is necessary to look at the format of places people come from. In Kyiv everyone already knows what places they go to. For example, if we talk about Buena Vista and Habana, where they play salsa and bachata, people come there to dance and to meet someone. After all, dancing is a great way to meet people. It is an international language, universal one. It is easy to start communicating with a person through dance, through movement, because it involves both hugging and touching, and shortening the distance between partners. In such clubs there is also very little space and many people on the dance floor, all of this reduces distance even more. Foreign men are easy going in terms of dance, they are easy to invite, easy to dance, our men - no. Ukrainian women are more active, they are more open for dances and acquaintances than Ukrainian men.
Why are Ukrainian men so restrained in terms of dances?
I do not like this popular phrase in our country, but it says a lot about it - "Real men do not dance." In fact, there is nothing better than a man who knows what to do with a woman's body. And of course it is all about movement. When you are able to give impetus, when you know how to get momentum, when you are able to communicate through touch, there is even such a concept, very important for me - "touch quality", all this is an indispensable tool for a man who seeks to find the best approach to a woman. This is about a pleasure from the dance and from communication between partners. And if a man does not dance, what kind of pleasure can he give to a woman? In addition, as a rule, these men do not allow their women to dance with anyone else. It is very important to inform our men that to be able to dance is a sign of good manners, like it was in pre-revolutionary times. All educated men should have been able to dance and attended balls.
Who prevail in your dance school, men or women? Why do they come to Selfbalance?
We have more ladies as our students. Everyone has his/her own purposes. While dancing you can improve your health, muscle tone, silhouettes, someone wants just to switch the everyday reality and relax, other want to do it seriously and compete, for example, there is such a category as ProAm (Professional and Amateur), when a student dances with his/her teacher and competes with other same pairs. Now this direction is becoming very popular in Ukraine.
Successful men who come to learn to dance, require a very correct approach of the coach. Here everything depends on the teacher. Everyone can learn dancing. Nobody says that the person should become a world champion in dancing, but he/she will benefit from this for both the body and the soul in any case and improve social skills. The person will feel more confident.
Men who come here to learn dancing, set a variety of goals as well as women. Someone wants to surprise his beloved, someone prepares for an event, someone is going to invite a girl to a date, someone wants to change his gait and posture, work with his body, change his everyday life focus. Dance in any case helps to feel differently outside the dance floor. People feel easier in the company of others, the nature of communications changes, internal blocks are removed.
If you have an unlimited budget, which party would you like to organize? Describe it, please.
Ahaha. I have many ideas. Since SelfBalance is about the style in every movement, I would gather many different partners from different spheres of personal development, and this would be an event where you could get the maximum number of tools for self-development and also have a lot of fun. And I would be thinking about a very large-scale party. When there is something to share, I want to make it as accessible as possible.
Do you think that kind of doping like alcohol is necessary for great party?
For me it is something that discourages me. If you want to dance and to turn around well, I doubt that you will be able to do it after a cocktail or two. If you want to dance fast dances well, then no doping is needed. Men often think that alcohol will help to break the ice, but in fact you just need 10 minutes to adapt to the place and situation. Then everything will be easier.
What clubs do you go in Kyiv if you want to have fun?
In fact, I'm very home-grown and rarely go out. I usually choose to have fun at the invitation of friends. I'm in the Caribbean club at concerts, I go to Buena Vista and Habana with live music and dancing. I do not really like places with electronic music. Shooters is also a good club for those who want to enjoy Kyiv nightlife. In summer time we have a lot of open air areas for dancing, at Poshtova Square in Podil, at the Art Prichal, and in the main parks of Kyiv you can dance.
What is missing and what would you like to be changed in terms of party life in Kyiv?
In my opinion, there are not enough new interesting formats. It is all the same for a while. Some time ago I often went to dance, but I’ve met the same people. I want something developing, unexpected, new in terms of parties in Kyiv. The organizers of the parties could think what else they can offer to the guests, what can create this WOW effect without attracting those of excessive sexuality, such as striptease, for which there are special places. I want more aesthetics, high cost of parties, so that they impress. Abroad this is done differently. I remember one club in Mexico, Cozumel, called Senor Frog's, very large one, and there is a large number of employees over there who work with the public, lead dances, form teams, as a result - everyone dances, no one is afraid. Someone shows the movements, someone passes and takes you by the hand and leads to the stage, and there is always an action, and everyone is having fun. This approach could work in Kyiv as well. People there feel trust and feel that they are integrated into the party. There is no fear, but following the people who broadcast the energy of pleasure. But in Kyiv you come to a club with a music, if you know how to dance, you dance, if you don’t know how – go and study independently and then come back. Yes, there are some master-classes, but it all depends on the quality of the presentation, on the ability to work with the public, and on the understanding the needs of this audience, depending on the place.
I would like to have a love for dances planted in children already at school, and this would be a part of the education of etiquette and good manners. I would like to see the next generation that grows with no fear to dance, open to this kind of communication with other people.
Photos provided by Diana Minenko
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak