Aleksandr Ostanin- San Francisco, 2016
The recently completed Technique Tuesday Challenge III was won by 28 year old Aleksandr Ostanin from Odessa, Ukraine! Operation: Tap recently had the opportunity to sit down with the newly crowned champ and talk about his life in tap, tap dancing in the Ukraine, his new festival in Odessa, and his dreams for the world tap community!
As a young boy in the city of Odessa, Aleksandr Ostanin was an avid basketball player who loved Michael Jordan. Invited by a neighbor to a tap class Ostanin indignantly refused saying that, “dancing was for girls.” After some persuasion from his mother Aleksandr took the leap and went to tap class with his neighbor. Fortunately for the tap scene in Ukraine, the young Ostanin would never dream of playing basketball again. Tap dancing in the Ukraine is made up of a very small yet committed community of dancers and many of the teachers of Aleksandr’s era learned from videos of American dancers. “The community is very small and as a kid we were like the dinosaurs,” Ostanin recalls. “However, my first teachers helped me to love tap dancing!” Being in a country so far removed from the Meccas of tap dancing in the United States and even in Europe was a challenge for Ostanin growing up.
Ostanin in a performance from 2015
In 2002, Ostanin would go to the World Tap Championships in Reisa, Germany for the first time and here he would meet “thousands of tap dancers” he today considers to be his colleagues, peers, and friends. “In 2002, the United States was showing everyone how to tap dance, they were the mold by which we all based our training off of. They were winning every medal, and we would always be standing for the Star Spangled Banner.” The motivation of a dominant American team and a competitive spirit drove Aleksandr and a handful of Ukranian tap dancers to go home hungry to practice, refine, and develop as tap dancers. This paid off in spades as he was crowned the Adult World Champion of Tap dancing in 2012 and 2014. Aleksandr hopes to bring a team from the Ukraine someday that rivals the sheer size of participants of the American Team.
“I hope for there to be more of a connection between the dancers that attend the World Championships and for the hoofers in tap dancing.” When asked about the differences Aleksandr pointed out that the dancers who attend the world championships in Germany are more performance based dancers while as he puts it a “hoofer” is a more deeply musical and improvisational artist. After traveling to the United States and training with the likes of Michelle Dorrance and Jason Samuels Smith, Ostanin recalls that his world was turned upside down by their way of tap dancing. “My dream is for tap dancers in Europe to have a tap show that collaborates all of my friends from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine, and of course the Unites States. The tap world is waiting for something like this!”
In the meantime Ostanin is developing the first ever tap festival in Odessa, Ukraine this summer and he is using his prize money from the Operation: Tap Challenge to aide in producing this festival. “It is my dream. It is my city. It is my country. To make tap dancing popular and to promote my country is a dream for me!” With international masters of tap dancing on faculty and the backdrop of a beautiful city in the summer of 2016 this will surely be a festival that you won’t want to miss! Operation: Tap is so pleased to have Aleksandr as the champion of our Technique Challenge not only because of his abilities as a tap dancer but because of his spirit as an ambassador for tap dancing in a country very far away from tap’s roots. If Odessa, Ukraine is the new frontier of tap dancing, Ostanin is its John Wayne looking to carry the dance off into the glorious sunset. Let us remember that this American dance is now a global dance and its practitioners in all corners of the globe are looking for a space for it to shine.
MESSAGE FROM FESTIVAL!
We want to introduce you the first Ukranian TapDance Festival at the coast of the Black Sea! Just imagine: beautiful sea, creative atmosphere and loads of tap-dancing!
WHERE: The coast of the Black Sea, Odessa, Ukraine
WHEN: 23-27 August 2016
Be a part of the historical and incredible festival!
HURRY UP! :) THE SPECIAL PRICE WILL BE AVAILABLE UNTIL 23 MAY 2016.
TECHNIQUE TUESDAY CHALLENGE III- CHAMPION SUBMISSION