Violinist, dancer and singer Tania Vinokur is a performer who marches to the beat of her own drum. She was born in Russia, but emigrated with her family to Israel when she was eight years old. Swapping the snow for the sun, Vinokur is a person who embraces fluidity and this sense of fusion clearly manifests itself through her work.
Israeli artist Tania Vinokur was in Bangkok last month for a concert.
The multi-talented performer was in Bangkok recently to give a concert at CentralWorld. Her performance, "Shine", was, as the name suggests, about wanting to shine and looking for special qualities within different people.
"When you hear this particular song, it will provoke you to start looking for your inner strength and to seize the moment," she said.
Vinokur jumped at the opportunity to perform in Bangkok, as she fell in love with Thailand after visiting three years ago.
"There is such great hospitality and it's amazing how they enjoy everything and they receive everything you are willing to give. We have a lot to share, I think."
Vinokur comes from a creative family _ both her parents are musicians. Her mother is a former violinist who manages a classical conservatory and her father is a cellist. She spent her childhood in the theatre and that is where her love for dance and music blossomed. Vinokur was captivated by the dancers, stretching and practising in the wings, and admired the vision of conductors who had the ability to direct entire orchestras.
Vinokur took up flamenco dancing when she was 10 years old, jumping at the chance that presented itself.
"I liked the skirts, they are so beautiful. I was 10 years old _ what could I know?" Vinokur mused.
Flamenco appealed to her largely because of its mixed influences.
"Singing in the flamenco is really close to Jewish singing, it's kind of a fusion of the Arab, Jewish and Spanish gypsy cultures. It has a lot of origins and I found myself in that. There are a lot of Indian rhythms and hand movements in the flamenco, and the guitar technique comes from the Arab ud _ it's a very nice mixture. So I used those rhythms with the violin and the dancing and also combined Latin grooves, Cuban grooves and dancing flamenco on top of that. This is what I love doing."
Vinokur's music is a rich tapestry of influences, sounds and cultures which translates to something very unique but also very accessible. "You will find a lot of violinists who say, 'Oh my god, she dances with a violin'. I don't care about that. I don't mind singing in English, even though it's not my first language. I don't care that I do flamenco, even though I am not Spanish. I have Spanish hair," she laughs, brushing her hand through her long tangle of black curls.
Highly gifted, Vinokur's kaleidoscopic expression hasn't always been so easy. "Growing up was like being schizophrenic. My head was dividing every single hour and I was running from this class to that class with a violin to the ballet class, with the flamenco shoes in my bag. I remember myself thinking, 'Why can't I do everything at the same time? I can't keep dividing myself and also I don't want to'."
At 19 years old, Vinokur came to the conclusion the decision was hers to make and every performance since then has featured her distinct mix of flamenco, violin and song.
"I have to practise every day. You have to keep everything warm.You have to dedicate yourself to everything 100%, and I don't have enough time in the day to do everything for that. Sometimes I practise more violin, more flamenco, but I always have to do everything, otherwise I get sad."
While Vinokur has created a hybrid performance and her interpretation of the flamenco style is non-traditional, her study in Seville and Madrid means that Vinokur's construction and interpretation is based on the true traditions of the art.
As a master of all three, Vinokur stitches violin, flamenco and song together to create a performance that is unique and entertaining, but ultimately it is a distinct representation of who she is.
About the author
Writer: Olivia Caisley