Irina Shevchenko is one of the best belly dancers in the world. She won the first prizes at the international festivals seven times. Having made so successful career she goes on living in Rostov and shares her skills with beginners. She feels completely happy. We met in the hot, summer morning.
- Irina, You are a dancer with a God-given talent, and you look like an actress of Indian movies. ..
- Yes, I am told much about it. I think the reason is that my dad is Armenian but mum is Tatar. I was born in Georgia in Tbilisi. We had lived there before The USSR failed. And my first achievements were there , but not in dancing. I played tennis. My dad is a master of that kind of Sport and I had been training since my early childhood. I was successful in it. But when I was ten I had to quit sport as I had some problems with my spine. I went swimming, danced acrobatic rock-n-roll, but I wasn’t a great fan of it. Really I had interest to dance after my graduation and the birth of my son. I was about 22 when I started dancing. I was fond of ballroom dances and was good at them , but then I got, it was difficult for me to dance in a couple.
- There were problems with my partner. Sometimes it’s so complicated to deal with men. They get tired so fast! But to achieve a success you must train 6-8 hours a day! Then I danced hip hop in a dance group , but it wasn’t easy for me either. I couldn’t show all my potential in the group. It wasn’t good for me. Finally I found that kind of dance that was just right for me – oriental dance. As I had experience in dancing at that time , I was successful and got all basic elements in six months. Then I started my own studio.
- I know that your first victory was at once at your first competition.
- Yes. I started dancing in January 2007 and in May I won a regional competition. Then I was invited to perform as a trainer. I took part in Russian competitions, and then in international ones. When I started dancing I dreamt of victory at Ahlan wa Sahlan festival in Cairo, one of the biggest festivals in the world. This year I danced there, but took only the second place. Anyway I think it was a success, considering the fact that 70 best dancers of the world competed there. I decided it was my last competition as I won everything I wanted to win. Now I am planning to give workshops all around the world, teach my students, perform and organize different festivals and competitions.
It’s a complicated problem- to dance easily.
_ irina, In the world of ballet, for example, there can be cases when being envious, competitors can spoil your footwear and costumes. Is there anything like that at oriental competitions?
-Sometimes….My costume was stolen 5 years ago after my performance. Also I saw once, that the costume of one of the girls was spoiled . But mainly the envy is in all these looks and words which I read about myself on the Internet.
- How do you protect yourself?
- I don’t pay any attention to it. I just feel sorry for those people who can’t survive my success.
- What is a dance studio for you? Your hobby or the way to earn living?
- Both. It’s my hobby , but also a good way to make money. In the beginning of my way my husband and my parents helped me a lot. I couldn’t afford expensive costumes and participation in festivals without their help. Now I make money and invest it in my developing. I attend a lot of competitions nowadays , but already as a member of jury. But I am not going to stop in my developing, I take workshops of the best Oriental dancers in the world. To dance well you must study all the time.
_ I wanted to dance flamenco a lot , but having finished I got that I wouldn’t dance it well. As I don’t have enough plastique. Do you have students like me?
- The main idea of oriental dance is to help women reveal themselves, help them to feel confident. It isn’t just a dance , but also a philosophy. I teach them to listen to the music, to feel their bodies . And I see the results! Theposture and manners of my students change! They feel much more confident. In fact it’s a complicated skill – to dance easily.
- Sign language
- I think when the the posture and psychology of the woman changes, her life can change too.
- Yes, of course. I had one student , she was a woman of mean age. And she had many problems both with her health and in her private life also. After she started dancing her problems began to be solved. We can explain it by themagic of dancing, but it seems to me , she just calmed down , stopped being negative and aggressive and the situation in her life improved.
- Irina, you are so bright woman! You must have many fans. How does your husband react ?
- I have fans, of course. But my husband trusts me . WE’ve been together for 13 years. He is a quiet and reliable person. We trust each other , so noone is jealous.
- Irina, during our conversation I could understand what you speak without any sound. Your sign language was so expressive!
- It ‘s because of oriental dancing. I am fond of dancing songs! But I can dance them only after I translate them. So I transmit the thoughts with gestures. It’s in my blood already.
- Most of all you used this gesture - the move of your hand in the direction of your partner. What does it mean?
- It means that I am sincere with you. I share my energy, Do you feel it?