Alla Vats

Alla Vats: Preacher of Oriental and Chinese Dances

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YEREVAN/CAIRO — Alla Vats is a renowned Russian dancer, teacher and choreographer. She was born in 1985 in Yerevan. When she was 8, she and her family moved to St. Petersburg, where she graduated from high school. From 2002 to 2007, she studied at the department of Oriental Cultural Studies (Chinese Studies) at the Faculty of Philosophy of St. Petersburg State University. In 2011, her monograph, Dance Art of China: History and Modernity, was published. In 2012, she defended her thesis on “Religious and Ritual Aspects of Chinese Dance Art.” She has won a number of prizes at international dance festivals and participated in dance competitions as served as a member of the jury. Alla is the holder of official title of Vice-Miss Belly Dance St. Petersburg; she is a prize-winner and winner of various competitions both in Russia and abroad, including Cairo Mirage (Moscow) and Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival Winter Teachers Course (Cairo). She is the organizer of the Cairo Stars Cup Festival in China.

For the past three years, Alla has been living and working in Cairo.

Dear Alla, how would you assess the current state of Eastern dances for women in Russia?

The peak of the popularity of Eastern dance in Russia came after the TV series “Clone.” Crowds of girls, myself included, started to study belly dancing. A few years ago, interest in the dance began to wane, and the influx of new students decreased noticeably. And during Covid, in principle, there was a crisis in all dance styles. Now the situation has improved and there is a new influx of students.

By the way, dancers call this dance in different ways. Some do not accept the word belly dance. What term do you use?

Yes, you are right. We use such terms as belly dance, oriental dance. These are the most common names for this dance trend.

Alla Vats

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You are a specialist in Chinese dance. Have you also practiced them?

I have been practicing Chinese dance for a very short time just to have some idea about this style. Years ago, I wrote a book about Chinese dance, so it was interesting to learn about different subtleties of this direction in practice.

You also studied in China and opened a school there. Is it still open?

Yes, that’s right, I lived, studied and worked in China for eight years. During that time, I taught a huge number of classes there, gave masterclasses and organized my own festival. Many of my students have already opened their own schools. At the moment I come there periodically with my master classes.

There are many belly dancers with Armenian roots in the world. Even in Egypt, their current most famous Oriental dancer is Savinar, who hails from Armenia by the name of Tsovinar. Have you met any of your fellow Armenian dancers anywhere?

Yes, I have come across our girls at competitions, at events. All the girls are very beautiful and talented. And due to their appearance, our girls always look harmonious and colorful in dance.

Topics: Dance
People: Alla Vats

Alla, you were born in Yerevan, your mum’s last name is Asatryan. Were you interested in Armenian dances?

Yes, my mum is Armenian and many of my relatives live in Armenia. I try to go there as often as I can, because I love Armenia very much. My father is half Serbian and half Ukrainian, but he was born in Armenia too, he graduated from school and institute there. Unfortunately, I have never practiced Armenian dancing, I have never had the opportunity, to be honest. But maybe in the future I will be able to master Armenian dances too.

What do you remember from your childhood in Yerevan?

Oh, to be honest, my memories vary. My childhood was during the collapse of the USSR, when there was no water or light. I remember how we had to carry water in buckets up and down the floors. I remember how we used to heat the stove right in the flat. How we were happy and shouted when the light was switched on for a couple of hours. At the same time, these are memories of family and friends togetherness. When all the neighbors gathered to watch the TV series “Santa Barbara.” How joyfully and cheerfully all holidays were celebrated surrounded by relatives! How much everyone always laughed and never lost optimism in spite of everything!

There is a small Armenian community in Cairo: do you have contacts with them?

Unfortunately, no, I did not have any contacts – I only went to the Armenian church in Cairo. But I know that there is a community here and there is even an Armenian school.

Thank you for your answers, Alla, and I really hope that in the near future we will see your performances in the place of your birth!

And thank you very much for your questions. I hope to see you soon in our homeland!

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