Tatiana Zenina: “Friendly Atmosphere Helps Our Group Win!”

The Head of the legendary SUSU’s Ballroom Dancing Group celebrates her anniversary.

Tatiana Zenina is an Honoured Cultural Worker of the Russian Federation. Tatiana Aleksandrovna has received many reputable awards, which are only given to those who are true professionals in what they do. For 18 years she has been the Head of the SUSU’s Ballroom Dancing Group established in 2000.

This March Tatiana Zenina celebrates her anniversary. This round figure birthday, as is the tradition, finds Tatiana Aleksandrovna on stage, being surrounded by her colleagues and pupils.

In short breaks between trainings and rehearsals of her Anniversary concert the distinguished choreographer tells us about the beginning of her creative career, recalls her first competitions, and shares secrets of being a many-year creative leader.

– How did your ballroom dancing career begin?

– I went into ballroom dancing when I was already an adult. Back then I was a student in a cultural secondary school and was studying classical folk dance during one year. At some moment I was offered to make up a dance couple and perform at the school’s contest. That, we may say, was my debut. A ballroom dancing teacher came from Kurgan to be a judge at the contest. He liked how we danced, so he invited us to take part in a city-scale tournament in Kurgan, where we also won. After that followed winnings at tournaments in Novosibirsk and Tashkent, changing my partner, and my glorious comeback to Chelyabinsk.

Because of my passion for ballroom dancing back then I failed to graduate from the cultural secondary school, but I entered an institute and successfully obtained my higher education. I should say that my parents played a huge part in my becoming a professional. They did everything they could so I could be successful in ballroom dancing. For instance, they bought me the best fabrics which I used to sew my costumes.

At the same time with studying I began working as a teacher in the Palace of Culture of Zheleznodorozhnikov. By the moment of my graduation from the institute I was training good sport dance couple. Under my guidance they started reaching the leading positions, and then – winning tournaments all over our country. Meanwhile, I kept dancing myself.First I danced in a couple with a teacher from the Institute of Culture, after that I worked with other partners too. 

In 1980 I was offered to open a group for children in Monolit Palace of Culture, where kids of my former pupils were training. Soon I brought my group for adults to Monolit as well. I had very skillful couples in my group, who then left our city and settled all over the Soviet Union and abroad. All in all, I worked for 18 years in Monolit Palace of Culture. In 1999Monolit Palace of Culture was closed, and I got hired by school No.138, which was located nearby. I brought all my groups there, and we continued our trainings in a new studio.

– How did you come up with an idea of creating a Ballroom Dancing Group? What were the criteria for the Group’s members?

– After my son finished school, he entered SUSU. By the end of his 1st year of studies, when SUSU Talents contest was announced again in the university, he was suggested to perform a ballroom dance. I staged a number for him and his girl partner, which they performed in a city competition and took the 2nd prize. After that the Director of the Creativity Center invited me to work at SUSU and create a ballroom dancing group. At first I had my doubts since I already had had a very serious-level group by that moment, multiple winners at prestigious festivals. And here I had to start training other kids, so I wasn’t sure I could do it. But still I gave it a try, and it all worked out well. Starting from the year of2000, besides school No.138 I have been teaching in the SUSU’s Ballroom Dancing Group.

– At what age can one start doing ballroom dancing?

– When I went for ballroom dancing at a serious level, I was 19. Back then people started training a ballroom dancers already being adults. Now, of course, ballroom dancing has become significantly “younger” – parents bring their children to start training at the age of 3 or 4.

– The Ballroom Dancing Group plays big part in creative life of not just our university, but our city as well. How did you manage to achieve that?

– We have quite a friendly atmosphere in our group, though my style of training is quite a strict one, and it may be difficult for the new kids. But everyone understands that keep being leaders for 18 years is very hard work. That is why I believe that we are being leaders because we have this friendly atmosphere.

– Your Group has won many prizes, and has always been on the very top of success. What was your motivation through all these years? How do you not stop developing, but keep moving forward?

– First prizes were never my goal. I simply liked training my pupils, finding something new and interesting, and every time do things better than they had been before. Meanwhile we just happened to win the 1st or the 2nd prizes.

– What do you feel every time your Group takes to stage?

– I’m dancing together with them! I’m always in a radio cabin since I need the light and accurate synchronicity with music. I’m watching on my camera what they’re doing. At the same time, from above I’m watching how patterns change and how everyone moves on stage, and I always share their emotions.

– What goals have you set for yourselves together with the Ballroom Dancing Group?

– We have very many invitations for this year. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep the Group intact as students keep finding new hobbies every year. That is why our main goal is to preserve the Group and keep performing at big tournaments, and of course maintain our leading positions!

Marina Kovyazina; photo by: Oleg Igoshin
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