Russian Dancehall teacher to give workshops
Katerina Troitskaya was crushed when her dance partner left her to focus on his career.
They were 11.
“[He] said that he didn’t want to dance with me anymore and that he wanted to learn medicine,” she laughed
“I was so disappointed. My teacher wasn’t able to find me another good partner, so I had to stop.”
That was ballroom. In the years that followed she tried everything from tennis to Karate, but nothing fit until she discovered hip-hop eight years ago.
A Dancehall workshop in 2012 by French choreographer Laure Courtellemont changed everything.
“I fell in love with her style,” Ms Troitskaya said. “After that I decided to practise these styles as much as I could.”
African dance, hip-hop, salsa, bachata and funk are among those the 25-year-old has mastered, but her main loves are Afrobeats and Dancehall.
Ms Troitskaya splits her time between Moscow and Los Angeles where she works with a studio, Dancehall Funk.
“Whenever I had the opportunity to travel, I took classes from teachers all over the world — in Europe, in the US — to try to learn more about these cultures.”
Her enthusiasm wasn’t always reciprocated.
When she posted her first dance video, she wasn’t prepared for the comments.
“In the beginning it was very hard. The first few times I cried.
“First it’s: She’s Russian and she’s white. How is she going to teach and how is she going to dance the culture she is not [a part of]?
“But I also have people from Nigeria who say: “OK, Katerina, you are not Russian. You have African blood in your white body. You are lying to us,” she laughed.
“There will always be people who like it and those who don’t. It’s about what you focus on — the good or the bad.
“I’m in love with the music, I’m in love with the people and no one can stop me from doing what I love.
“If you’re black, you can love Russian ballet. It’s the same the other way.”
On the flip-side, not looking the part has served her well. She said it has inspired those less confident to try the styles. She now has almost 80,000 followers on Instagram.
“The first goal is to look past my colour and enjoy, and another goal is to remind women that they are beautiful in their own way and they should be confident no matter their size or race,” she said.
“I’m always happy when I see women in my class enjoying themselves. That’s what it’s about. I want everyone to feel free and safe in my class so they can express themselves.
“When my account started to grow, when artists asked me to do their choreography, when people from different countries started to bring me to teach workshops, I said, I guess I’m doing something right.
“I was doing it because I love it and I’m still doing it because I love it.”
Ms Troitskaya has travelled to Paris, London, Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando to teach and attend dance workshops.
This is the second time she’s held a workshop here.
Her four-week classes guide dancers through the steps and techniques before putting together a routine. They’re suitable for all levels, including beginners with no previous dance experience.
She said the move from hip-hop to dancehall was “a challenge”.
“I dressed like a boy. I discovered I had hips, but I was so in love with the music that nothing was going to stop me,” she said.
“Each step has its own name and meaning, but for me, it’s always about the lyrics. Once I hear something sweet, that’s it. When I don’t understand, I send it to my Jamaican friends and they translate it in to English.
“Almost every African country has their own dance. In Congo it’s more about hips; in Angola it would be more about footwork.
“Different styles have different vibe and technique. In African-style you use more knees and you use your legs when you wine, to open and close. In Dancehall you just use your waistline.”
As for her country, she predicts that the scene will blow up next year. Dancers are brought in from Europe, the US and Jamaica to give workshops, which she said has heightened the interest.
“You have a good opportunity to learn from the best teachers from all over the world.
“The Dancehall community in Russia is growing everyday and Dancehall right now is one of the most popular dance styles in Russia.
“African culture is not that big, but the interest is so huge.”
Ms Troitskaya’s four-week workshops are $225. Drop-ins are welcome at $30. Join her at Island Physique in the Berkeley Cultural Centre. For class times visit here: www.rebeldancestudio.com/workshops.html</i>
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