And they chose not the easiest direction - incendiary boogie-woogie. In just a couple of years, Dmitry and Oksana managed to win prestigious awards. “MK in St. Petersburg” found out how they managed it.
Real men don't dance?
Dmitry and Oksana met in 1997. At that time, Dmitry was 23, he was fond of martial arts and had a rather negative attitude towards dancing, believing that “real men don’t dance.” Oksana, on the contrary, was dancing at that time. They fell in love and got married. Oksana, having become a mother, temporarily forgot about her girlish hobby.
When the children grew up, the couple had more free time, and the couple decided that it would be great to do something together. We thought about dancing, but couldn’t decide on the direction.
One fine evening in 2017, Dmitry and Oksana went with friends to a cabaret. And there they were just holding a boogie-woogie master class. Having tried it, they both realized that this is exactly what they want to learn and what will be interesting to do next. So everything started spinning and away we went.
“We always liked rock 'n' roll as music, but acrobatic rock 'n' roll didn't really resonate with us. He's too athletic or something. I had heard about boogie-woogie, but had no idea how it was danced. When I first saw it, I immediately realized that this is what I would like to dance. My wife fully supported me. Moreover, boogie (unlike acrobatic rock and roll) can be danced everywhere and to any music,” - says Dmitry.
During the first training sessions, everything was unusual: working in pairs, incomprehensible steps, the rhythm itself. Dmitry was faced with a difficult task: learning to lead his partner, and at that time his brain was focused on simply not getting lost. But, despite the difficulties, the dancer did not even think about stopping classes.
“I am a passionate person. And therefore, if I have my heart set on something, I will live with it until it starts to work out. In addition, working in pairs is a mutual process, and Oksana always helped me if something didn’t work out for me. Plus, I saw how more advanced dancers moved, and I wanted us to be in their ranks,” - says Dmitry.
Dance that requires a lot of energy
Boogie-woogie is definitely a very dynamic dance, requiring the dancers to have both speed, flexibility, and a lot of energy. Dmitry and Oksana began to engage in this area after 40 years (now Dmitry is 49, Oksana is 44), but this does not prevent the dancers from performing at a high level and leaving even the most vigorous and young ones behind.
“Sometimes after training we can barely crawl home. Sometimes injuries happen. But we do not forget to give ourselves time to recover: we slightly reduce the speed of the training process, for example, we dance only for technique, without performing complex acrobatic figures. The body is used to it; if it is not allowed to relax, it will continue to thresh, albeit at lower speeds. The main thing is not to stop,” - says Dmitry.
Dancers note that many at their age are generally afraid of physical activity and think that such energetic dances are only for young people. But if you have a goal and interest, it doesn’t matter at all how old you are.
“We determine the boundaries of youth and old age for ourselves! Burn, live by business! And then no old age is scary for you,” - Dmitry is sure.
In the St. Petersburg boogie-woogie team, many dancers are half the age of Dmitry and Oksana, and on the way to the team there are children who are old enough to be our heroes’ grandchildren, but this does not stop them, but, on the contrary, only proves that even the most difficult People of absolutely any age can practice dance styles.
“We would like to note that we have an amazing team. We are very supportive of each other. We are different ages, but very friendly. We love and respect our coaches and all our teammates, especially those with whom we compete at competition sites! And they reciprocate our feelings." — Dmitry and Oksana share with us.
Any performance for a couple is like the first time. The same stress, pre-start jitters and then the euphoria from the realization that you were able to overcome yourself, were not afraid, pulled yourself together and performed, entering the spotlight under the gun of hundreds of eyes. At this moment, support is especially important for the couple.
“During any performances, we feel the support of the guys from our club. And special thanks and low bow to our coaches: Anna Smirnova, Alexey Kochkov and Andrey Derevyanko,” - Dmitry adds.
“Dancing added fire to our relationship”
Dmitry and Oksana became interested in dancing when their children were already grown up. And that same master class in the cabaret on boogie-woogie, as well as further training in the direction, became the “oil” poured into the fire of the couple’s relationship. The spouses had a common goal, an idea, thanks to which they began to act as a single organism.
“It happens when children leave their father’s house to build their own lives and families, a certain vacuum arises for parents, because a certain core around which everything has revolved for the last 15–20 years has disappeared from their everyday life. No, love and care remain, they haven’t gone away. But it may happen that spouses begin to move away from each other. And it’s even possible that it won’t be noticeable from the outside: they still run a joint household, meet old friends, and enjoy the arrival of their children and grandchildren. But all this happens out of habit, out of inertia, with an eye to the past,” - Dmitry argues.
Dmitry admits that in his relationship with Oksana there are disputes and misunderstandings. For example, during training, everyone can begin to defend their opinion. Both, in pursuit of the ideal, want to give 100% on stage and show only the best performance. All the emotions and even swearing during training only speak about how passionate both of them are about what they do.
“Our arguments happen only because each of us wants us to look beautiful on the dance floor. The key here is WE! And in the end, we still come to a consensus and arrange the dance in such a way as to take into account all our wishes. After all, the most important thing in dancing is not how the audience or judges evaluate you (although I’m lying), but how much you liked yourself in the recording made during the performance. And I rarely like it (the video). We burn, we live, we dance, because in dance we are a single whole, striving for the absolute,” - says Dmitry.
Dmitry and Oksana started boogie-woogie in 2017. And from 2021 they began to take part in serious competitions. During this time, they honed their skills so much that last year brought the couple very prestigious awards: they received the title of Master of Masters in acrobatic rock and roll (in the boogie-woogie discipline), became the best boogie-woogie couple in St. Petersburg, and also reached the finals of the Russian Championship.
Dmitry and Oksana have to train three times a week for 1.5 hours, and all this is in addition to work (Dmitry is a builder, and Oksana is a designer). Usually, after the main training, the couple stays for another two hours to perfect the movements.
“There is no other way - we are the oldest in the team, we have to compete with the young ones,” - Dmitry admits.
Combining a passion for dancing with work is not easy: there are too many things around that I would still like to try. Dmitry and Oksana definitely wouldn’t mind the extra time.
“There are only 24 hours in a day, and only seven days in a week. I wish there was more! And age, albeit slowly, is already reminding itself: you can no longer rock for two or three days without sleep and rest,” Dmitry laughs. “Therefore, we have to limit ourselves to the most important and most interesting: three training sessions a week - boogie-woogie, two training sessions - dashing Irish stick fighting, Saturday and Sunday - rest, recovery, meeting with friends in an informal setting.”
The couple has big dance plans for this year. They are definitely not going to stop there. As far as possible, they plan to show what they are capable of at all available competitions. The closest one is the Governor's Cup on February 10th.
“The main thing is to have enough health” - Dmitry and Oksana say laughing.