by Holly Darling
Our new Oxygenation Registration Consultant, Katya, interviewed below, also happens to be a warrior of inner strength, which she cultivates (in herself and those lucky enough to be around her) through her Buddhist, psychotherapy, and tango practices.
As a Buddhist, she chants and studies philosophy in order to uncover inner unlimited potential, and foster self-empowerment. In this practice, every problem is an opportunity for growth and everyone has the capacity for enlightenment in the present moment. Beautiful!
As a psychotherapist, she helps people navigate through the array of their experiences and feelings to find balance and strength for finding self-acceptance and hope.
As a tango dancer, the challenge of staying in the moment propels Katya to keep dancing in order to discover higher and higher tango plateaus and heights. In tango and in becoming the Oxygenator, Katya has developed a stronger sense of connectedness.
What are you busy with outside of tango – like in your everyday life?
So many things to experience in life that sometimes I get overwhelmed with not being able to do everything that I want. But primarily, I am involved in my Buddhist practice. I am part of Buddhist lay organization, SGI-USA, so my daily practice is chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and supporting others in developing their practice and understanding of this life-transforming philosophy. My other passion is psychotherapy; so I dedicate much of my time to my private practice. I love people, and I would like to help them find their inner strength, be that through tango, Buddhist practice or psychotherapy.
What do you see as the connection between tango and therapy?
I believe both tango and psychotherapy help people get in touch with who they truly are, be in the moment and experience feelings in the present. As they delve into processes of tango and psychotherapy, they develop more insight into themselves, their relationship with others and the world on a deeper level. These, in turn, bring out more colors in their whole life experience. Both of them are at times challenging but very exciting processes of discovery of joy of life. At least, that’s what my experience has been with both of them.
How did you get into tango initially? How long have you been at it? How much you dance these days?
My friend and I were exploring different dances (bellydancing and salsa), and one night we decided to check out tango classes. So we did. It was about 5 years ago, and since I was still learning salsa, it was hard to fit tango into my life. So throughout the course of 5 years, I have taken classes with different teachers, and it was great, but life has a tendency to get busy with other things, so in between taking classes, there were also big breaks, so every time it felt that I was starting over as a beginner.
Until I got to Oxygen about a year ago. I am still very much a beginner but I’m confident that through my experience at and help of Oxygen, I’ll be able to grow further in my tango learning & finally one day pass the beginner phase. That’s why I think it is great that Oxygen Tango makes such a big emphasis on the community. Through my experience here, I learned that getting to know people in the tango community considerably propels tango learning process. And since I have become an oxygenation consultant, I have been dancing tango pretty much every day. And I am loving it!!!
What are some memorable experiences so far you’ve found in tango? What challenges you the most about tango? What makes you want to keep at it, DESPITE the challenges?
Staying present in the moment is the most challenging yet exciting part of tango for me. When I am fully present, it is totally amazing as music and a partner take me into absolutely different world; these dances become my memorable experiences. And exactly these experiences make me want to keep at it, as I want to discover more and more heights. Seeing experienced dancers and performers inspire me as well.
Does practicing tango have an effect on the rest of your life in any way? How? What qualities do you want to foster in the o2 community through your work as an Oxygenator? What qualities are important to you when it comes to community ?
I feel that I am more open to others and feel more connected. I am also more honest with myself about myself and life in general. And these are the qualities that are important to me and that I want to help others develop as well. Another quality is patience, which I need very much to learn. I am patient with others but not myself.
What have been the highlights of being involved with Oxygen so far?
Being part of Tango Challenge (3-month tango immersion program) and becoming the Oxygenator. Both of them have helped me grow in tango and as a person. I would recommend Tango Challenge to others without thinking much about it. I am jealous of those, who are in the Tango Challenge now and will be in the future, as I know that the program is getting better and even more interesting.
What attracted you the Oxygen community?
Warmth. I feel very much embraced by the teachers, students and people who come to Oxygen. I also like that there is no separation between teachers and students. I see you guys, Mitra and Stefan, taking classes as well, and it is so refreshing and inspiring that you do not stop in your learning process. I truly admire that. I also appreciate that at Oxygen learning tango is not only about learning steps, but also about music, tango history and etiquette.
What would you like to see Oxygen become in the next 5 years?
Bigger school, physically and classes wise. More students and teachers. I feel that Oxygen has much to offer now and has an incredible potential to grow and become much more influential in the tango community. And, who knows, I am learning more about tango therapy now, so maybe we’ll have some kind of collaboration of tango and psychotherapy going here as well.