With the vacation and dacha seasons over, winter in Moscow is, paradoxically, a time for new beginnings, new activities, and new friends. Since the Dance Renaissance has been sweeping the globe for many years, I thought it was an excellent time to review the state of dance instruction in Moscow. What I found were very diverse and attractive offerings ranging from traditional dance instruction in all dance styles to lifestyle dance clubs and even a little bit of Buenos Aires.
Alexey Mindel is a co- founder with Olga Panchenko and is the General Director of two dance studios: GallaDance and D Fusion. GallaDance was the first lifestyle dance studio in Moscow when it was founded almost 13 years ago. As Alexey said, âMy partner and I wanted to create not just a dance studio but a dance lifestyle club, so we offered not just excellent dance instruction but also a club atmosphere with parties, and formal balls. As a club, we offer an all-inclusive membership, which provides unlimited access to scheduled group classes and a set number of private lessons. Our Express package costs between 23,500 and 19,900 roubles for three months depending on your preferred location.
âThe club atmosphere typically attracts our older students, generally 35 or older, who have greater time flexibility, and therefore can attend our regularly scheduled afternoon and evening group classes. For example, our newcomer classes for beginning students are 6 days a week with alternating afternoon and evening classes. Newcomer classes include all the basic dances included in American Smooth, Latin American and Caribbean dances, so one can practice everything from a fast Viennese Waltz to a hot Salsa. GallaDance has 5 clubs in Moscow, with convenient locations including on the Garden Ring, next to the Olympic stadium and the newest one near Moscow City.
âD-Fusion, our newer studio, is located at Novoslobodskaya Ulitsa 3., right across the road from the Novoslobodskaya Metro. We found that some of our customers, especially our younger customers, just wanted excellent teaching but werenât as interested in the social activities. They also wanted a more traditional fee per lesson payment as opposed to GallaDanceâs all-inclusive fee. A single group lesson, which can be reserved over our website, is 450 roubles per 45 minute lesson, and of course the individual lesson price drops accordingly when the student purchases multiple lessons at a time. The type of dance instruction also differs in that our younger students are more interested in social dances like Salsa, Rhumba, and even Hip-Hop and Pole Dancing! For example, we currently offer both Samba and Salsa lessons twice a week in the evenings.
âOur main focus is ensuring a good experience in a comfortable welcoming atmosphere. All of our students were beginners once, and we have novices walking in every day. Everyone is here to have fun, exercise and to feel perfectly comfortable dancing at a club or making a good impression at that next corporate dinner or social ball.â
Of course, dance instructors are critical and need to be able to be both a friend and a coach. They need to know when to push and when to laugh. As a student, I donât want to be treated either like an inductee into the army or a fragile flower. Of course, as an expat living in Moscow with limited Russian Language skills, I was concerned that my dance instructions were going to be limited to basic Russian and lots of hand and foot gestures. Luckily for me, and other non-Russian speakers, Moscow does have excellent English speaking dance teachers.
Perfect examples are Alexey Eliseev and Julia Burenicheva of GallaDance. They both started dancing young and have been teaching ballroom and social dancing for many years. Alexeyâs first goal with new students is to get them to relax, listen to the music, feel the beat, and then gradually expand and perfect their dancing. As he said, âI can give you the tools and show you the door, but then it is up to the student to walk through.â Julia Burenicheva has a similar philosophy; she aims âto insure my students finish each lesson with a sense of accomplishment and a smile on their face.â
PLANETANGO takes a very different approach and the name is an adept description for this Argentine Tango studio, for it focuses strictly on all aspects of Argentina and Argentine Tango. Located in an interesting courtyard on Khokhlovskiy Pereulok near Kitai Gorod Metro Station, the studio has been going for 6 years, and has grown into a full-fledged lifestyle club though it charges the same sort of rates as a dance studio. Entering PLANETANGO immediately immerses one into Buenos Aires, leaving Moscow far behind. The music is all-pervasive and compelling, and the dancers very passionate.
Leading the novice or making the experienced Tango dancer better are instructors like Yanina Radzishevskaya and Sergei Shpakovsky who have been teaching 2 years and 4 years respectfully. Their goals as teachers are to transfer the feeling of Tango, and enable the student to express their individuality, for Tango is similar to Jazz where improvisation is encouraged. Their goal is to enable the student to feel the music and respond while also communicating and creating with your partner. Along with these English-speaking Russians, the club also features native Argentinian dancers who rotate through monthly to assist the local instructors.
PLANETANGO offers the novice or experienced dancer, group or private lessons along with biweekly âLa Practicaâ where one practices onesâ moves while watched by instructors. The big events of the week are the biweekly âLa Milongaâ where everyone can party and dance with different partners in a social setting. Experienced Tango dancers are welcome to the La Milorogoria for a small fee of 200 roubles to dance and soak up the atmosphere. Group lessons start at 600 roubles per individual or 3,700 roubles for 8 lessons, while couples pay 6,600 roubles for 8 lessons.
The diversity of dance instruction in Moscow was a welcome surprise, and as an aspiring Fred Astaire or maybe even Al Pacino in âScent of a Womanâ, this fall will find me once again in the dance studio and on the dance floor. Iâm hoping this article will inspire some other expats to join me!