We recently received a very nice message on Facebook from an emerging documentary filmmaker named Anna Vinokur, telling us about her upcoming project – a huge dance documentary! The movie tells a story about six dancers, from styles including ballet, hip hop, kizomba, and salsa. The dancers are from all around the world – Portugal, Spain, Panama, and Angola. It sounded so different and exciting, that we were happy to feature her and her story here on the Dance Life blog! Taras Otv, who also answered our questions, is Anna’s partner and producer. Here’s the interview!
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Anna: I was born in Saint-Petersburg (Russia). I finished school there, and graduated from the University (Saint-Petersburg State University of Film and Television, Diploma in Documentary Filmmaking). I moved to Moscow when I turned 20, and for the last 3 years I have been working as a television producer.
Taras: I was born in Ukraine. All my life I was a creative person. I was in theater, studied music, worked as a TV presenter, but the better part of my life I dedicated to dances. One day I wanted to create my own special and unique dance project because I had so many ideas in my mind! The result was my business called First School of Wedding Dance in Ukraine, which was an undeveloped industry at the time. I wanted to give people a reason to dance, people who have never been connected with dances before. As I was developing and expanding it I kept on learning new dance styles. I mean, even when I barely started to dance I immediately wanted to create different show performances. After some time, having developed schools, I started to choreograph dance for films, and act in them as well. Now I also support other artists as a producer on different international creative projects.
Tell us about your dance background:
Anna: I am not a professional dancer and this is my big regret. Although I dance social dances such as salsa, kizomba, semba, and it gives me a lot of happiness every day. I absolutely can’t imagine my life without it.
Taras: I have been dancing for 18 years already. I have 13 years of sport and ballroom dance training and an S-class, 6 years of Latin American dances and Argentine tango, and I also do hip-hop, popping, locking, house and krump. I have been a dance show producer for 14 years, and almost a year ago I entered the world of kizomba.
What made you want to make a documentary about dance?
Anna: Nothing inspires me more than dance; nothing gives me so much motivation. I admire so much when people share all their pain, happiness, disappointment and hope in a dance, there is nothing more beautiful for me. And I feel very lucky and grateful to have a chance to make a movie about our amazing characters.
Taras: I would like people to know how much dancers have to sacrifice, and how difficult and at the same time astonishing their life is. I also want people to know what artists of different genres, not only dancers, have to give up behind the scenes, and how hard and sweet their lives can be sometimes.
Please explain the premise of the movie:
Anna: Our movie is about fighting for your dreams. To be more exact – about dancing for your dreams, that’s why it’s called “Dance For It” (as in the expression “go for it.”) Dance itself is everything for our characters – passion, love, and meaning of life, and their dream. They travel every week around the world with workshops and feel very blessed for having this dream life. However, one day this happened to become a serious obstacle for making another huge dream come true. Is it possible to accept the fact that the job you love the most, makes it hard to see your own parents, start your own family, graduate from the university, or develope your own projects? Do they really have to sacrifice one dream to achieve another? This “it” from the movie’s name is different for each of our characters and we want to show their fascinating stories.
How did you choose which dancers would be featured?
Anna: I met our characters in august 2014 on a kizomba festival in Porto, they were invited there as instructors. I have been dancing kizomba for half a year already and wanted to improve my skills by learning from the best European instructors. That period of time was very difficult for me – I quit my job, didn’t know at all what to do with my professional life and was desperately looking for an inspiration. That kizomba festival became my long-awaited turning point. I was watching them dance during performances and workshops and was fascinated by inspiration, freedom, happiness and inner beauty that was coming out of them. I couldn’t take my eyes off them and still cannot – even if I’m watching them on YouTube.
Paulo and Lanna don’t stop smiling for a second, sharing joy, energy and pride for their African heritage.
Ricardo and Paula are looking at each other with so much love and gratitude for the mutual support.
Albir and Carola hug each other after their performance like all the love of the world is in this hug. I have never seen something more warm and touching.
Taras: Albir and Carola – a dance couple that while having created their own style in kizomba doesn’t change the basics of the dance. Ricardo and Paula are very interesting because of their motivation in self-improvement not only as dancers but also as dancing artists performing on the stage. Paulo and Lanna can show in a very sincere way deep feelings in their dance and all its cultural identity.
What do you hope that your film will teach people?
Anna: For me the most important wish is to make people feel. To watch our characters dancing gives me a lot of strength and confidence; somehow it makes me more kind and caring person. It gives me a belief that there is nothing I can’t do. And I want a lot of people to feel the same.
Taras: I would like the movie to show how important it is to appreciate what you have. It will teach people to be grateful for what they have and to respect more artists who dedicated their lives to dances! A lot of people don’t even imagine how hard, time-taking and painful this process can be for the dancers off the stage.
What goals do you have for the future of your dance career, and/or your film career?
Anna: We see two ways of how our film can live happily ever after. First of all – we want to apply for international film festivals. This is my dream from my university youth – to see my own film, in which I put all my soul, on a big screen. The second part of the plan is to organize screenings in every city where people dance kizomba. And that is pretty much the whole world.
Taras: We want to create a really good noteworthy movie and show it to the world, also through film festivals. There is also an idea to make our movie live longer by organizing annual dance festival.
If you are as excited about this project as we are, please help Anna and Taras efforts by donating to their crowdfunding page here!
Anna Vinokur, firstname.lastname@example.org, WhatsApp, Viber, calls +79151399310
Taras Onoprienko, email@example.com, WhatsApp, Viber, calls +79817774233
Like the “Dance For It” page on Facebook too!