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Graphics/WebDesign: Konstanze Winkler
“East Meets West” is one hell of an idea! In Eastern and Central Europe belly dance and tribal are spreading like a wildfire and becoming more and more popular. Dancers and troupes from there can by seen on Western festivals quite often, which gives the whole community a whole new flavour. But there is still much more to do. With this in mind we like the attitude of Anita Blake a great lot. The born Ukrainian artist, who lives in Germany invites to her festival, which should be the grounds of a meeting between east and west. Her “Zaghareet Fest” presents German and Ukrainian dancers in a cheerful party atmosphere (of course there will be workshops also). There seems to be nothing better to bring different cultures together. Below Anita tells us, how this all came about.
MEET US AT MY HAFLA

Interview with Anita Blake

by Marcel Bieger

Hello, I’m Anita, and I come from the Ukraine. I started dancing in childhood, began with gymnastics and ballet, then hip hop and modern choreography, I switched between a lot of dance style and went to many dance companies. In 2008, my interest went to belly dance. At that time it became popular in the Ukraine. I saw some performances in this new style, and soon it became perfectly clear for me: That is what I want! So I went back to school, but this time a belly dance school, in the Ukraine. And after one year, my interest went to tribal style. First I trained to DVDs from Carolena Nericcio, Rachel Brice and Sharon Kihara. I also attended some workshops in the Ukraine. For instance at Taisa’s place. In 2009 for the first time I performed tribal fusion. It was a success, so my bellydance teacher offered me a job in her belly dance school, and so it became that I teach tribal fusion. And another half year later I married. My husband Alexander works in Germany, so I had to move with him to Germany. He is also an Ukrainian and even from my city, Kharkov, after the capital, Kiev, the biggest city in the Ukraine.
So you came to Germany.

Yes, and over here I wanted to start my own business, open my own studio and get to know local dancers. I wanted to make dance friends. The first dancer I met in Germany was Leyla Jouvana. I liked her immediately and joined her “Project Group”, with which I danced at her last Oriental Festival in Duisburg in November. I met others, amazing dancers and nice people. After I met quite a few artists from here I got the idea to make my own hafla. My former teacher from the Ukraine and good friend, Taisa, asked me if there might be a possibility to come over to Germany and teach ATS®, because recently she has received her “sister studio” certificate. I thought this is a great idea and invited Taisa to my studio, along with German dance stars like Henneth Annun, Lily Dux and Cristina Zegarra.

I even thought better of it and decided to organise a real festival and hafla for this occasion. In other words a party, where people can drink and eat, get to know each other, find new contacts and watch beautiful dances. Is there a better way for East and West to become friends?
How long are you going to stay in Germany, only temporary or forever?

Forever (laughs). I live her, I work here, and I love Germany very much. I came with my husband to Düsseldorf, where he works as an IT specialist. He is specialised on security technologies, please don’t ask for more, I don’t know very much about this (laughs).

In Germany you first danced with Leyla Jouvana. Are you still with her?

Last time I danced with her was at her Easter hafla on April 14th. I worked only with Leyla in her project group, but with no other teacher, only danced with some of them on several events. I’ve been to many festivals over here, and I’m going to many more. In November I’ll be in Dresden to hold workshops on tribal fusion.
Like I said before I was not thinking that much of making a hafla or even a festival so soon, but my friends and my husband said why not, and persuaded me. I thought a lot and considered it from all sides till I decided, okay let’s give it a try. People will get food and drinks, music and dance, they will see performances as well as dancing all together – at the finale everybody should be on the dancing floor for a big tribal event. I guess I know already that this will be great. Also there will be a little bazaar, but with German traders, not Ukrainians.

We know the German stars, but we don’t know Taisa – yet. What will we get to see from her at the hafla?

She will show tribal fusion. And she and I will do a piece together, and maybe one or two of my students will join us.

A ticket will be 15 Euro, and included are snacks and soft drinks. You can get warm meals and alcoholic drinks, also, but you have to pay for them. If you want to know more, check my site

www.lamiadance.com

and there you will find a link to the “Zaghareet fest” with useful information for the workshops, the hafla and so on. I did most part of my site by myself, but my husband, who is an expert on this, helped me with it. Design and contents are by me. His first name is Alexander, and he helps me a lot.

Last question is a rather personal one: Anita Blake doesn’t sound very Ukrainian.

Right, Anita Blake is my stage name, my real name is Anna. But in the Ukrainian dance community everybody knows me as Anita Blake and not as Anna. And everybody else, too, calls me Anita.

Photos © Konstanze Winkler, unless otherwise noted
Photo © Alexander Demenshin
Photo © Alexander Demenshin
Anita (Middle) with Leyla Jouvana's projekt group at the festival in November 2011
Tell us a little bit more about the Ukraine, how popular are belly dance and tribal there?

Both are very popular. Belly dance became well known in my home country about four or five years ago. Tribal started some years ago, but becomes popular only now. The Ukraine was visited by many belly dance super stars such as Sharon Kihara, Manca Pavli, Sherri Wheatley and many more and they too made belly dance more famous. This year the Ukrainians will see Kami Liddle and Deb Rubin, and Tribal weekend, our biggest tribal festival, became tribal week.

You opened your own dance school recently, the “Lamia Dance Company”.

Yes. And I hold Oriental and Tribal Fusion classes there. And on April 21st I started an Open Class where everybody can come and see how it works and how it feels for her, to decide afterwards if she wants to do this also.

Are there still tickets available?

Yes, there are still some left, but as you can imagine, such an event raises much interest. I think it’s the first time that an “East Meets West” come together has been tried. That is the idea of the fest, East meets West, Ukrainian dancers meet German dancers, and vice versa. Ukrainian dancers still don’t have much possibility to come to the West. At my hafla they find a wonderful opportunity to introduce themselves. I would like to do the next hafla in winter, but that depends on what will come out of my first “Zaghareet Fest”.

Let’s get back to the hafla, when did you get the idea for this?