ALLA DUHOVA: The path to excellence is endless
Today, TODES Ballet is not only a world-famous and legendary dance troupe. This is a brand that includes a network of schools from more than 120 branches and is the dance theater of Alla Dukhova, winner of the Ovation National Award and one of the most daring and famous choreographers in Russia. Her portfolio includes participation in some of the most striking and large-scale cultural events of the country – from the celebration of the 850th anniversary of Moscow to the Christmas Meetings of Alla Pugacheva and the New Year’s lights on Channel One.
In your interviews, you repeatedly called TODES your third child. This year, the 33rd ballet is being performed. This shows how many generations of dancers there have been! How do you manage to keep the bar high for so many years?
Our pupils of yesterday already teach in our studios today, and their children perform on stage. No wonder we say that TODES is a big dance family. For 33 years, much has changed, but the most important thing has remained the same – the love of dance. Our work is not easy with such a huge number of studios – we even got into the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest network of dance schools in the world. Our primary task now is to fill the theater with a repertoire. At the same time, we are touring, improving the guys’ technique, growing in terms of creativity, trying and creating something new, looking for unusual and unique forms, and developing. The path to excellence is endless.
Back in 1987, at a competition in Palanga, when the team was born out of a merger of two dance groups – male stunt breakdance and refined female modernism – there was nothing equal to you. In principle, you transformed the idea of choreography, style, boundaries and possibilities of dancers. The experiment was a success. Today?
We are not afraid of trying something new. TODES is one big family, full of like-minded people. We help each other, develop ideas and turn our dreams into reality. We are doing what we love – is anything else needed?
In those days, when TODES was created, from whom did you study? Did you have any idols in the dance world?
When we started, in our country there was classical ballet and folk dance. Of course, we had heard about modern choreography, but we did not have the opportunity to learn from someone. We now have a huge selection of workshops – we invite foreign choreographers and we travel abroad ourselves while, back in the day, we only had some Western cassettes or literature. We eagerly grabbed any information and studied it. This included clips of artists, and we adopted their choreography and began to create our own style.
What are the key components of success? How do you select dancers and students for your schools?
The secret to the success of any business is simple – you need to do what you love every day. You can teach anyone to dance. It all depends on a person’s desire and, naturally, abilities. If someone does not have a predisposition, but really wants to learn, then it is still possible, but it will take much more time.
If there are places in the studio, then anyone can enter: adults or children, with any level of training and any physical profile. People come to the school for various reasons. Some want to learn how to dance and move, some want to lose weight. Children are often brought for general development – physical, spiritual and social. The main thing is for the person to have the desire, and the rest can be achieved.
Do you keep in touch with former dancers of the group? And are there any plans to open a TODES branch in Cyprus? In neighboring Malta, for example, there is such a school.
We are always happy if a new TODES studio opens in a city. That means they trust us and that we are doing everything right. Most [dancers] stay with us for a long time – those who continue to love our common cause. Very few people leave us. More often, they make a choice in favor of family, children or home.
We are always happy in such cases but, at the same time, many continue to work in TODES because you can realize your potential here, not only in choreography.
Often, dancers talk about diets, restrictions and weight control. What helps you look great? Share your secrets with us!
Yes, I used to have to go on diets, but I do not advise anyone to do this. You need to lead a healthy lifestyle: to move, to dance or to play sports – and one must be sure to monitor nutrition, of all kinds! There can be no other advice.
Dancing is a unique tool for maintaining shape and improving not only the figure but also overall health. When a person is dancing, all the muscles, all parts of the body, are involved as much as possible.
Once, you spoke about plans to build a TODES dance village, in which the most talented dancers from different countries could live and study. Is this project destined to become a reality?
I have said many times that there is a dream to build a TODES dance village. And it will eventually come true! This, of course, is not a village, but the world of TODES has found its home. We, ourselves, have built our new wonderful dance base, all on our own. The construction process is not quick, it is still ongoing, but our new home is already there and work is in full swing within its walls. No one in the world has such a unique place! Six rehearsal rooms, two auditoriums. We plan to implement many more ideas so that dreams can come true.
I know that you do not accept the word ‘train’. How much time and effort is spent on setting up a new program for lessons and rehearsals – from an idea to a performance?
All of our dance performances are born suddenly. Inspiration can come when I hear some kind of music that I want to dance to, or suddenly see a beautiful person – sometimes it can just be an idea. When you come to the rehearsal room and start putting on numbers, the idea takes on a completely different look. This is a normal creative process. As a rule, children’s fairytales take much more time: we write a script, then music, at the same time we are setting up dance numbers, then costumes etc. It looks like a huge beehive when everyone is working and, in this long process, a new dance story is created – rehearsals, working out the numbers and the whole performance as a whole, because we must show the viewer everything in perfect condition.
Do you have a cherished dream?
All my dreams have come true, and I definitely know and advise everyone to be sure to dream. For example, I do this when I go to bed or if I need to relax during the day. I close my eyes and think about what I would like to imagine very vividly. And, you know, it works, I assure you!
What helps Alla Dukhova maintain the presence of spirit and what do you find happiness in?
Happiness is family, friends and favorite work. And people who are near me help me to draw inspiration and maintain the presence of spirit.
Author: Julia Vertova