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On the occasion of today's International Dance Day, we are shining a light on one of the most empowered women of today's urban dance world: dancer, choreographer, model visionary, and businesswoman Anja Jadryschnikova.

Anja grew up close to her father, who was a master of martial arts - her parents had even met at a women's self-defence course that her father had given. He always placed great value on Anja knowing exactly how to defend herself. Her father had the desire to raise a warrior princess, an Amazon, from him she also got a tomboy-like attitude. Her mother is the epitome of femininity, always pretty, always made up, the embodiment, as Anja describes herself, of the Russian mother. In the past, she sometimes was ashamed of her tomboy-ish manner. However, today, we see a strong beautiful woman in front of us, from whom a very wise soul speaks to us.

"Music is life. I believe that everything is connected, everything in the universe is one... There is some form of music for every human being that opens the soul."

If you are lucky enough to talk to Anja, you will soon realize what an open-minded and in every respect spiritually awakened woman you are facing. The Russian-born artist was drilled early in her life for success and competitive sports. The aspect of the competitive performance was evident early on in many facets of her life. As a foreigner in Germany, she had to learn the language quickly, and coming from a family of competitive athletes, her overall performance level in school and extracurricular activities was always very important. Despite the strong performance-driven elements of her life, Anja has managed to find herself by dancing."Dance has taught me to let go and just be. Through dancing I have learned to say: I do this for me and I let my soul speak, it doesn't matter what my soul has to say, I let it go and I won't judge myself, not now and not afterwards.", she explains to us. From this performance-oriented understanding of dance, which is reflected in many aspects, whether in competition, as a choreographer or in the dance battle, it is always about achievement, Anja has managed to go her own artistic way.

"I actually wanted to dance because I wanted to make art, because for me it means freedom."

First as a dancer, then as a choreographer and teacher, she works with international stars and for big TV shows. But at some point, there came a moment when she pulled herself out completely to say, I dance only for me. "And that was the moment when the magic came, the moment when I understood what dancing is all about." That is also the reason why she no longer calls herself a dancer today because as an artist she sees herself much more broadly based. In addition, dance has gained much deeper levels through her perception of life. This is how her partner Sebastian Weigel, who is also a former dancer, martial artist and now mostly works in the field of holistic health and Anja came up with "Beyond Dance", a concept that sees dance as more than just physical activity, but as an expression of the self, as boundlessness, as freedom - true art and healing at the same time. And it is exactly this feeling that she wants to make accessible and experienceable for people. "Beyond Dance" are workshops and seminars intended for all people who are enthusiastic about dance, whether they are at the professional or beginner level. It is about opening up certain approaches, broadening your horizon, the perception of yourself and everything around you, and understanding that dance is not a form. With this, Anja breaks up an image of a dance that is very strongly manifested in our society: Dance has a form. But according to Anja, the dancer needs one thing above everything else: feeling."Because when you let go, things emerge that your mind cannot even comprehend and that's where the magic happens."

The more Anja Jadryschnikova found herself in the course of her ambitious career, the more she discovered her passion and found a home in urban dance. The realization of a deep wanting to express herself freely has led her to this dance direction, in which there are no other usual norms. According to Anja, urban dance culture is in danger of being pushed into the world of competitive sports. This is indicated by the fact that breakdance has recently become, and Olympic discipline. That means it is no longer an art form, but a competitive sport. Now it is about making sure that individuality, free expression, and lightness are not lost. Anja sees a similar challenge in the dance battles, where they measure dancers with each other instead of invoking their own individuality.

"Magnificent beyond comprehension - I am not comparing myself to anyone. Why should I? No one is like me. Why should I compare someone else to someone else?"

She acknowledges the scene, of course, as her own artistic roots come from it - but has now realized for herself that she has evolved in a different direction. Anja also turned her back on the entertainment world, where people are judged only by their appearance, where it is often no longer about dancing but about having the right appearance. In 2013, she founded the Urban Booking Agency because, at that time, there was no professional contact network for urban dancers. This is exactly what Anja has changed very successfully: with the agency, she now has access to a unique portfolio and catalogue of urban artists. Fact is: urban dance has become the voice of this generation," Anja emphasizes.

Her current passion project is "The Way". It took a whole year to work out the idea behind it and, above all, to integrate her wealth of experience in its core. "I myself was on tour and at festivals a lot in my time as a professional dancer, but do you think I was happy? Do you think I was artistically fulfilled by it at any time? Zero!" Her colleagues had a similar experience back then. "If you perform the same show for 10 years, then you go down. That's not art anymore - that's a hamster wheel. The art is taken, pressed together and turned into entertainment, without authenticity, honesty or freedom." This is exactly what Anja was fed up with and whenever people have enough of something, they come up with alternatives. And Anja's answer to that is "The Way".

"The Way" is an improvisation on every level that interacts with its space.

The central question behind "The Way" is: how can I guarantee a collective of artists the freedom to complete what they want? Accordingly, artists are needed who are experienced in the field of improvisation, and at the same time are open to engaging with the collective consciousness. "The Way" is a concept that acts as a metaphor for life in an art form. "For me, life is in the here and now. There is nothing else, there is no past, and there is no future. Everything is in the here and now, at the moment, out of the moment. "The Way" is just that: a collective consciousness that draws from the moment unfolds and develops and goes on and on. No matter what happens in this improvisation, there is no wrong, it is all magic, it is all life." Everyone who experiences this performance becomes a creator. So not only the dancers, musicians, and painters are part of the performance, but also the spectator, feeding the bubble of collective consciousness with their attention. Thus, the spectator is not only offered a show, but a much deeper experience, which no one else will ever experience the exact same way - because it is unique. The spectator has co-created this one performance, this is their own experience and it is everlasting. The essence of the wonderful and empowering project is: It is good as it is, and everything that is not yet perfect, comes, that is the way - it is about the process.

Anja Jadryschnikova is in every aspect of her personality an incredibly inspiring and empowered strong woman. She is a leader, founder, a visionary who teaches us that each and every one of us is responsible for our own equality and freedom and above all to stand up for ourselves. She reminds us that every human being is responsible for their own state of mind and that it is not particularly meaningful to put one's own happiness in the hands of another. "No one is responsible for my happiness, no one is responsible if I do not feel loved, because it is my duty to love myself in the first place." She even takes it a step further by saying: "If I'm not happy in my life and I don't know why then you can ask yourself: What do I want in my life that's not there yet and how can I guarantee it?" Anja reminds us that it is not the others who make our dreams come true, but that we alone are capable of transforming what comes from our deepest inner being into reality. Self-empowerment at it's best!



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