Marina Ignatenkova. Dancer


My name is Marina Ignatenkova and a place where we met today, is called “Tangomania”. It is one of the oldest schools of the city. One of the first. There’s a great hall and a gorgeous historical building. All that causes inspiration and special atmosphere.

There are cozy corners where one can relax, chat and drink coffee. Tango means intimacy and trustful atmosphere, that’s why this place is special. We have a lot of tango schools in the city. Actually, not many people can boast of such conditions, it’s a great luck, concatenation of circumstances but mainly it’s hard work and love of those who built this school.

In my opinion, the dance is indivisible. To divide and to argue is not quite correctly. I think that the dance shows the inner world of a person, his or her emotions, soul and its manifestation in motion. And there’s just a technique – acrobatics, motor skills and movement mechanics. To be honest, it has almost nothing to do with dancing, it’s sport. I don’t divide people into professional and non-professional dancers, any person can learn how to dance. But one can show soul motion through it and the other can’t despite the perfect technique and the appropriate education…

Tango… I think that all is mixed in people’s minds, because they generally see some film episodes and show performances. It’s absolutely different, it’s scenic tango, staging. And it’s a separate direction, not social dance and not that dance which is popular in Argentina and in the world at tango evenings, milongas. At the same time, a place and an evening in the style of tango is the thing available to everyone regardless to age, professional and other skills. That’s why we need to divide these types and understand them. To my mind, some people don’t take up dancing tango, because they think that they should have some wonderful qualities, stretch out their legs in a string, do petit battement, but it’s completely different.

What is tango for me? First of all, it’s sincerity and the current moment, which you should live with another person. It’s to be as you are, feel your partner, tune into him, move together and be together. Social tango is always a paired dance. Solo variations are in the form of techniques, when people separately train the female and male techniques of step and motion. But the essence of tango is in the pair.

What tango begin with for me? As a child I went to a school of music and to choreography. But later my mom took me away from there. It seems she decided I wouldn’t be a prima, for some reason (laughs). As a result, I got a different education, Higher Art Education, a degree in design. There was a period when my professional dance education was interrupted, but when I was 13 I got back to dancing absolutely consciously. Then I started to dance in a dance group, while at the same time studying at Art department. Now I understand that if I didn’t have such artistic vision, it’d be more difficult for me to stage a dance.

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Probably, tango can’t be separated from the other dance types. Absolutely everyone can dance. And I think, surprisingly, having another professional degree in dance can be a hindrance in tango. It’s quite difficult for guys from the Professional Ballet School to change their movements. And these habits they work on may play a bad role in social tango. I even know by myself if I take ballet classes and then go to milonga, my body becomes tougher and reacts a bit differently to my partner. It’s hard to change reactions quickly.

There is also must be an emotional change. In many types of dance, we’re aimed at our own feelings, how we should make a movement, how our body reacts. When dancing tango we should feel another person and through it – yourself. Through his or her signals.

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Everybody comes to milonga and dances with each other. It’s a special evening when we dress up, meet, and wait for something unusual, as at any party. In this respect, the Russian girls are one of the most elegant and beautiful.

I’m interested in how tango is danced in the world. I travel much and I want to say that in Russia tango is one of the most attractive, beautiful and elegant types of it. It’s really festive. In France, in Paris that I love very much, there’s no such atmosphere, everything is simple: T-shirts, jeans, decorations are not so festive. But our Russian girls differ from them with festiveness and beauty.

Sure, there was a period when tango lost its popularity, but now it’s coming back worldwide. Why is this happening? Outside of Argentina people lack of personal, confidential and tactile communication. With the advent of the Internet and technologies our lives loose it more. Touch, hugs, live connection are being lost. And these are things tango is made of. It starts with a touch and a and warm hug. Actually, one can hug a partner longer, tuning to a partner, even making some steps – it also will be tango. It’s worth trying and a few things can be compared to this. Tango is an ideal form of meditation otherwise you can’t concentrate on what’s happening. Improvisation, dialogue – that’s what happening. A partner offers, you reply and then it’s the next step. So, you need to be in the moment. It comes step by step and you become taking it for granted. It’s a very pleasant feeling.

Photographer: Anastasia Khilchenko

Interview: Ekaterina Uplisova

Text: Daria Dunaeva/ Diana Ivanina

Translation: Olya Troynikova