Fusing dream and reality

Tania Vinokur mixes her childhood ambitions to be onstage with her musical and terpsichorean talent.

dance 248 88 (photo credit: Shahar Livny)
dance 248 88
(photo credit: Shahar Livny)
Dancer, choreographer, violinist and composer Tania Vinokur sees herself as a result of a fusion of three cultures. "Classical Russian, ethnic Spanish and cosmopolitan Israeli culture," specifies the tall and slim 27-year-old, as she sits in a Tel Aviv cafe on a Friday afternoon. Born in Kishinev into a musical family, she played violin and studied classical dance from early childhood. "I grew up in the local opera theater, where my parents used to take me - they were orchestra members. And while they rehearsed in the pit, I stood on the stage and mused that it would be great to appear there. Well, it took time, but my childhood dream came true!" After immigrating to Israel with her family at the age of eight, she continued studying both violin and classical ballet, until one day she was exposed to flamenco - and was fascinated. "Which was not surprising at all, just think of their skirts!" she laughs. "My violin teachers wanted me to abandon flamenco, while my dance tutors wanted me to quit my music studies," she recollects. At age 19, she won the Adi scholarship, which allowed her to continue her dance studies in Spain. "In Seville, which is such a special place, I took six lessons a day, and at about 11 p.m. we used to go down to a local bar, somebody would pick up a guitar - and look, already 30 people would be dancing. It's one thing to study with the best teachers possible, and it's another to simply breathe a new culture in with the air." When she went to Spain, she left the Rubin Music Academy where she studied violin, but she took her instrument with her. "I remember how in Spain my pianist friend told me, 'keep the violin, you will come back to it' - and it finally happened. One day, I found myself playing J.S. Bach's Suite, yet not in the classical style, but in my own manner." Tania Vinokur returned to Israel almost by chance. She was on a family visit here and went to see a performance by the Mayumana modern dance ensemble. She was taken away by the show and the next day went to audition. Four months later, she returned to Madrid as a member of Mayumana, with which she's been touring the world ever since. She will present her own Cinco - Flamenco Fusion at the SummerDance festival in Tel Aviv on August 29. Her current work flourished out of a flamenco show that she created a few years ago and performed with her artist friends in a bar in the old Tel Aviv Port area. "I wanted a flamenco show of my own," she recollects, "and I knew that nobody would do it for me. It was just a bar. We performed there once a week, every time building the stage before the show and then deconstructing it the next morning. Now my life is so full with this Cinco - Flamenco Fusion, and I am so happy to just announce - my life is full!" she laughs again. The word "fusion" in her show's title means that "this is not only flamenco, but also jazz, video art and many other things, while cinco, five in Spanish, relates to the stories of five women, to their attitude to love, man, God and devil. Four of them represent the four elements - fire, air, water and earth. They finally transform into the fifth, whose name is Aether, the symbol of the Divine spark in humans - she brings serenity and peace to one and all." Cinco - Flamenco Fusion, featuring dancers and musicians, will be performed August 29 at Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv at 9 p.m.