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Tanya Taksar: Life is a Dance

Today our guest is Tanya Taksar.



Our Columbia is a small town where everyone knows each other. So, many of us know that Tanya loves ballroom dancing, but not everyone might know that Tanya competes and sometimes even wins ballroom competitions, and most importantly, how she transforms when she dances. And that’s an understatement. There was an amusing incident – before we started to work on the interview, Tanya provided our reporter with several competition photos. The reporter looked at them and didn’t recognize Tanya in any of them. Only upon closer inspection something clicked and the reporter realized that the stunning, beautiful, confident woman in the photos is in fact our everyday Tanya!


Russianmidmo.org: Tanya, tell us please, what dance competitions are held in our state.

Tanya: We have two ballroom competitions in Missouri: St. Louis Starball held in March in St. Louis and Heart Of America held in August in Kansas City. I have just competed there with my teacher Michael Shultz. We were 2nd out of 8 and very happy with the result.


RMM: What kind of divisions are in the competition?

T:  There are events for professional couples, for professional-amateur couples (as it is in my case), and for amateur couples. There are also level and age divisions for amateurs.

RMM: Are you considered a professional?

T: No, because I don’t earn money from it.

RMM: Is there a required set of dances you need to do, or you can pick and choose?

T: Ballroom dancing is divided in 4 styles. Each style has its own dances. I compete in International Standard and American Smooth. International Standard has 5 dances – Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep. American Smooth has only 4 – Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz.

RMM: How long you’ve been doing competitions?

T: I started competing 6 years ago. I started with bronze and by now I have moved up to silver.

RMM: What is bronze level?

T: Bronze is the lowest level you start at. There are bronze, silver and gold levels.

RMM: OK, I see, so there is a sequence of levels from beginners to intermediate and to advanced dancers. Do the judges decide when you have to move up?

T: There are some rules about it, depending on your placing and the number of competitors at the event.

RMM: Tanya, could you, please, tell us a little about your teacher and partner Michael Schulz?

T. I think Michael is an excellent dancer and teacher. Not only he explains everything so well, he can also inspire his students to try to achieve goals they wouldn’t consider on their own, and in my opinion that’s also very important. I’ve been working with him for 4 years and in that time I accomplished 10 times more than I did in the first 6 years I’ve been dancing. And part of it is that inspiration he gave me to work towards the goals I never considered possible for myself.



RMM: How many years have you been dancing?

T: About 10 years. We started slowly. When we lived in Stony Brook, NY, SUNY Stony Brook had a club for faculty/staff and their spouses.

RMM: Did you start dancing with your husband?

T: Yes, we started together, but then we moved in separate directions as far as our goals go.

RMM: Can you tell me about your dresses? The ones in the pictures look absolutely amazing.

T: Most of my dresses were custom-made for me.

RMM: There must be a special place where to buy them – I mean, you can’t go to Dillard’s and buy something like that.

T: Of course. There are many places where you can get a dress. I believe a general rule “You get what you pay for” still applies. You can buy a dress from China, which is cheaper. Or you can buy one from Europe, which is more expensive, but looks a lot better. My last two dresses have been made by Russian company REST Elegance. I contributed to the design process.

RMM: How do you communicate with them, since they’re based in St. Petersburg in Russia?

T: By e-mail or by phone. I describe my needs, they make several designs for me and we can make adjustments from there. I pick the colors and they make the dress based on the measurements I send them.

RMM: Can a better dress help you win?

T: You always feel better about yourself when you’re wearing a pretty outfit, and you dance better when you have positive self-image, so of course!...

RMM: Let’s go back to the competitions. What are the most prestigious competitions in US?

T: We have Ohio Star Ball. It is one of the best-attended competitions, and its highest levels are often shown on TV in America’s Ballroom Challenge program. We also have United States Dance Championships which give the title of national champion.

RMM: Do you do any big competitions?

T: It’s expensive and I can’t go everywhere I would like to go. But I go to Ohio Star Ball once a year, then I do two local competitions and maybe one or two more depending on how it works out. So this year I also went to Colorado Star Ball. It was especially meaningful to me, because my parents live there and so they could see me dance in person.

RMM: Do you have any videos of your dancing?

T: I have a video from my last competition, Heart of America.

RMM: Can we watch it?

T: Sure!

RMM: Tanya, I really enjoyed watching your video. You have a great smile, and you’re just glowing, I can see how much you love dancing. And your hair and makeup look stunning.

T: Thank you. I would like to take this opportunity to mention Rainey from Salon Envie, who did my hair for this competition. She is an excellent stylist.

RMM: And what about your makeup?

T: I do my own.

RMM: Wow! Tanya, can you tell us about our local dancing resources you’re using?

T: First, there’s Studio B, where I go for my lessons with Michael. I also take their adult ballet class. It’s great for all levels, the teacher will always help you with things you need to work on at your level.

RMM: Did you say “ballet”?

T: Yes, ballet is very useful. Many ballet elements are used in ballroom. They also have group classes on different dances. They also have a beginner class before their Friday evening party. We also have Columbia Ballroom Dance Academy and independent teachers, like Lucy Holden, for example. Also, the University has Mizzou Ballroom Club open to all. That’s probably the most cost-efficient way to get started in dancing. I think Mizzou club costs are about $35 per semester.

RMM: Now that is really inexpensive. Now, are there any places in Columbia where you can just go and dance?

T: I go to Studio B once a week, they have an open party every Friday. Then you can go to Jefferson City, they have a party once a month or so at Capital Ritz. Mizzou ballroom club has a semi-formal party 3 times a year. They’re also open for everyone, and they cost $6 for everyone and $2 for students. So there are quite a few choices.

RMM: Yes, once a week is plenty. Tanya, what would you like to say in conclusion?

T: The most important thing I would like to say is this – to enjoy ballroom it’s not required to take it to competition level like I do. Dancing is very important to me. And I enjoy competing and performing, so I am taking it to the extremes. But if someone just enjoys a good ballroom party once a week, that’s great, too!





Татьяна, БРАВО!!! С огромным интересом прочитала интервью и на одном дыхании просмотрела ролики! Вот ведь даже и не знаешь порою, какие талантища рядом живут!

Photo credit.

The picture with the red dress was taken by Deanna Dikeman.

Это праздник!

Очень важно иметь хобби, чтобы вылезать из рутины. Бальные танцы, конечно, - это очень красиво. Это такой праздник! Его чувствуешь даже просто глядя на фотографии....

Вам надо в Вену

Татьяна, в Вене весной проводится бал для всех желающих. Наша подруга из Базеля (по специальности -- глазной врач) ездит туда каждый год. Возможно и Вам будет интересно там себя показать и других посмотреть.


Татьяна - я потрясён! Вот уж действительно - Вы живёте в танце.

Желаю всяческих успехов во всех танцевальных конкурсах! Ну и поскорее выйти на золотой уровень!

Студия Б

Побывала в студии Б: просто сказка!
Приехала домой с ощущением, что побывала на балу :) как Золушка....

Several hundred native Russian speakers from various corners of the former USSR live, work and study in Mid-Missouri. There are quite a few very interesting individuals among us. Here we would like to tell about those remarkable people that live nearby, and better yet let them tell us about themselves and about their lives. Imagine how great it would be to discover that your next door neighbor is an unusual person! Even a trivial cup of tea shared in his or her company would taste better! The more there are such interesting people, the richer and more colorful the community, the more interesting its life.

The interviews are published exactly as they are approved by the interviewees. Accordingly, we trust that the authors' stories are accurate but we cannot be held liable for their comments and opinions.

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