The dance world is full of dancers' various stories, from people who dance only for fun to those who seriously train and compete, from dance teachers to choreographers, from festival organizers to dance school owners. Stories diversify depending on the style someone dances and whether they prefer dancing in pairs or dancing by themselves. The dance has so many different shades and every dancer carries his dance story, which is not reflected solely in their dance, but also in their everyday life. But in the end, all dance stories share one great love, love for dance.
In the fifth interview of Dancer's Life Stories, we will get to know the story of Katarina Gregorič from Siente. She has been teaching dancing at different dance schools for years, but has now decide to start her solo path with her program Femme Spirit.
Where did your dance journey begin and what stages did it take you through?
My dance journey began at Kazina dance school. At the age of four or five, my parents enrolled me in children dance classes, where we danced “animal” dances; from crickets, elephants, kitties... I think my love for dance really developed there. Then I continued with jazz ballet, for a while as an extra curriculum at elementary school, and then I countinued at Kazina dance school. At the age of nine, I fell in love with hip hop. It was quite popular at the time, and it felt cool dancing it. This love has lasted ten years and it still lasts. So I actively danced hip hop for ten years and also competed. In the meantime, I learned about contemporary dance. It seems to me, that if you are open, then somehow different dance genres find their way to you. At the age of fifteen, I ended up at Salsa festival in Ljubljana as a volunteer; that time it was held in Austria trend hotel. I didn't know a step, but there I got acquainted with salsa and reggaeton. I was taken over by this world. I was in crazy teenage years, dancing as a couple was a lot of fun at the time. Let's say, this has marked me so much, that I currently dance this styles the most.
Through which stages did your journey take you, at what point did you start teaching?
At fifteen, when I got to know salsa, I met Andrea Stewart. She decided to be my mentor and she “pushed” me for two years, but in a positive way. We trained a lot, especially for performances. She was teaching at Salsateka dance school and at first I just assisted her. Then she went back to London, I was seventeen, eighteen. In Salsateka I continued to be an assistant and slowly we started courses with Tomaž Baus. It was basically linear salsa and some bachata. In the meantime, I also learned about Cuban salsa, which has some kind of special charm, energy and life. At the age of twenty-three, I started teaching Cuban salsa. Meanwhile Andrea somehow brought reggaeton to Slovenia, and for me this was a good fusion of the latin and hip hop world. I danced it lot and started teaching it when I was around twenty-four.
What does your dance routine look like today? How often do you train, how many times do you go out dancing?
I'm in the studio 98 percent of the day, it depends on what I'm doing. For classes I am usually preparing at home. The dream is that it will be in the real studio, but at present moment the costs are too high. So the preparation for the classes happen at home in the room, where I put the shutters down and the window is my mirror. If I have performances, I have to go to the real studio to prepare myself and to conquer the space.
I spend most of my time preparing for programs that are irregular. Last year I decided to start my own path and Femme spirit program. It consists of several years of teaching experience and what I think women need, what we like, what we lack. I was trying to pack this into some conversational dance course. Preparing for this takes a lot of time because I have to think about how to do it.
Otherwise, my routine is morning dance yoga, some mix of yoga, dance moves and stretching, which suits my spine. Over the years, I go to social dancing less and less. Ten years ago, I was out on the dancefloor four times a week. It never becomes boring, but there are other things in life that you want to devote time to as well, but this year, I've been slowly returning to socials too.
You taught in dance schools and now you are starting a solo path. What is the difference between one and the other approach?
My solo journey is just starting. One part of it, the Femme spirit program, began last year in September, October. The difference is that in schools I always teach a well-known dance, which is taught in Slovenia and elsewhere in the world and is also learned from other teachers at festival workshops, schools, classes. Then we transform that knowledge in our own and share it. After Femme spirit, I am also starting a new Soul flow program. With my programs I try to come up with something new, that might be good for people. Already that is different, more preparation, more thinking. With me everything is always connected with life; dance is not something that happens only physically in the body, but also on many other levels. Otherwise, this independent path is maybe just like a divorce in a partnership. At the beginning you need some time to calm down, to take a breather and then you can go your own way. So now I am breathing and slowly moving on. Next time I will tell you, what else is the essential difference.
Where do you still see challenges for yourself in dance?
It's never over, there are countless dances I would like to learn. There is not enough time, money and energy for everything so far. With a new school year, I decided to start attending flamenco, which is strongly connected with Cuban culture. The Spanish had a colony in Cuba and left some traces. I am interested in patterns that had the influence there and I am attracted to the flamenco energy as well. So that's one of the next challenges.To be continued…