The passion and nostalgia in Kristina Belnikolova’s tango
Kristina Belnikolova is a beautiful and gracious tanguera whom I personally admire very much. She has been dancing tango for a little more than three and a half years. Here she talks about her path to tango and why tango requires some effort and sacrifice in order to achieve pleasure.
How did you decide to learn tango?
My interest in dancing started with some lessons in latin dance. A big group of my colleagues and I attended lessons and we found this really entertaining. Our company often organized corporate parties and excursions and there we had the chance to show everything we had learned. In time these lessons became more and more infrequent due to various reasons and also because there was a problem with the partnership. In latin dance it is, of course, important to have a partner in order to be able to train adequately. I ended up without a partner and gave up. At that time my fellow colleagues and I tried to persuade (my future tango partner) Kosta to try the latin dance lessons, but he refused. Moreover, he explained this type of dancing is simply not his thing; it does not match his personality.
After a while he came up with the idea to dance tango. He told us he wanted to try this particular dance. Me, I like trying new things and I decided to find us a place to dance tango. I have to admit I was looking for a place near my home and I found your dance studio. So, after I found your website Kosta, his wife and I came to the studio to see what it looks like to dance tango.
We observed several couples dancing (it is weird, but none of them still dance now). Kosta’s wife, who is otherwise very open to new things, realised it was not her dance, so she refused to take up lessons. Kosta was the most enthusiastic about this new endeavor and said he wants to learn. So, I decided to accompany him. That’s how our tango “career” started.
Do you find it difficult or easy to learn tango?
Is someone simply wants to have fun I reckon there are better ways to do it meaning that one really needs to put some effort and time into tango. It requires persistence. For example, we had some critical moments when we felt nothing was working. In order to achieve that moment of pleasure one needs to put a lot into it for a long period of time. During that period there is no gratification!
When did you feel you could really dance and enjoy it?
I would say we needed at least half a year and that is a significant period. We tried to support one another during that time. When my partner Kosta felt depressed I tried to cheer him up and he tried to do the same for me when I felt down.
Anyway, I think dancing tango is something unique. I do not think about anything else during the hours we dance. Truly nothing else. Yoga, meditation… there are a lot of other techniques which try to teach you how to clear. That happens to me naturally when I dance tango. It does not matter how tired I am when I come to a lesson because I always leave refreshed and energised. That is an interesting syndrome.
Has tango changed you in any way?
I cannot say whether I have changed due to tango or just the passing time. I can certainly say tango is something that has enriched me. When I realised there is a tango community in Sofia I felt like discovering a masonic lodge. I had never imagined there was such world, such night life in Sofia. If someone has enough money and time they can dance every night. I found that so impressive. It was like opening a curtain and seeing a brand new world. I am really happy I discovered this different world.
What did you find most difficult in the process of learning tango?
Well, I cannot define anything in particular. Kosta is a very close friend of mine and he has always provided me with support. In general, we get on very well. I believe that has helped our dancing.
If one gets frustrated when embracing another human being they cannot dance and use volcadas, for example. I think trust between the partners is essential.
I think I found the position of the body a little bit strange, but emotionally there were no difficulties.
There were periods when you stopped dancing tango. What made you come back to it both times?
Well, I never thought of those periods as final. They were due to travelling, work or family engagements. There was a period when I did not come to the lessons with Kosta. I have to admit that I did consider giving up at that time, but I decided I need to prove to myself I can continue on my own. Therefore, I did. The environment in the dance studio and the people I meet there really helped my decision. I found out I can dance with different leaders and still feel great. Everyone is amazing and meeting all these people is a part of dancing tango.
Do you have a favourite tango piece?
“Poema” is my favourite piece and I also like “’Tango To Evora” very much. I like tango vals because I feel the lady has a chance to do more embellishments. I also like milonga – it really is perfect for having fun.
It sounds like a cliché, but I really feel the tango passion in its music. There is also some nostalgia. I recall that many, many years ago my mother and father would play tango gramophone records. I do not remember any performers or composers, but tango actually brings me back to some nice moments from my childhood. I guess that is also a factor for me, even a subconscious one.
Do you have favourite tango couples?
Not really. There are a lot of great couples. I definitely like the performance of “Poema” by Georgina and Oscar Mandagaran with their child Nicolas. I find it inspiring and touching because the child is like the materialized feelings they have for each other and tango.
Human relationships are not easy and keeping them alive is something that deserves respect and admiration.