In a room with club lighting, beating music and dancing people, you probably would not notice the lady in a sophisticated black dress standing in the back, stilettos kicked to the side.
The woman, Svetlana Baklanova, was the first official representative of Evolutionary-Meditative Practice HORA in America and the person responsible for introducing this new dance to Evanston. On Sunday, Baklanova hosted the 11th International Anti-Narcotics Dance Event at Hilton Orrington Hotel to promote her second U.S. studio.
A former fashion designer, interior designer and artist who catered to high-end clientele and led a successful career in Russia, Italy, and America, Baklanova explained that while she was nurturing her fashion career in Dallas, her friends were raving about the Practice HORA classes they took in Russia. Finally, she traveled to St. Petersburg to try it herself.
“From the first time I tried the regular class, I understood that with age, we’re facing so many difficulties – inner difficulties – that we don’t want to have, and there’s no answer for them,” Baklanova said.
She said Practice HORA focuses on relieving people of problems that come with age, thereby extending youthfulness. After taking just one class, Baklanova was so convinced of Practice HORA’s benefits that she continuously traveled back and forth between America and Russia to continue with her classes.
“I knew that each time I take (a) class, I have a boost of energy, I have a sureness of the body, I have stability, I have beauty from within, that I can do everything else in my life much better,” Baklanova said.
However, travel started to take a toll, and her family life was in America, so she said she decided to bring Practice HORA closer to home as a leading specialist. Among the dancers was 18-year-old Katia Gofman. Although Gofman’s mother had been practicing HORA for two years, Gofman said she was new to the practice, and the pair came together to share the experience.
“I do ballroom dancing, which is totally different,” said Gofman, “This is a spiritual experience, I guess, that affects you, so it’s interesting.”
Gofman said she had witnessed a change in her mother, who “is a lot more calm now” and whose “whole entire attitude towards things has changed.”
Behind the dance floor, younger students could follow along on a stage as well. Practice HORA offers four main training programs, which include a program targeting youth. After the 50-minute dance session, Baklanova gave the participants a chance to publicly reflect on their experience, and many younger partakers took the opportunity to share.
“At first you’re just going through motions, but then you’re flying, or you’re swimming, and it’s in the sea or running through a jungle,” Michael Komarovsky, 12, said to the audience, “You just feel so free, and energy is flowing through your whole body.”
Practice HORA’s creator, whom practitioners call Master HORA, created a branch of Practice HORA called HORA-Track one year ago. He designed HORA-Track specifically to fight the use narcotics after witnessing his son’s friend’s involvement with drugs, Baklanova said. Although raised “in a good family, in a very safe environment, with a great education,” Master HORA’s son’s friend fell into drug addiction.
“He was just into it,” Baklanova said, “And that’s what Master (says): Parents are good, (but) the society cannot protect us or our kids from this type of difficulties in life, and it’s a disaster. So an anti-narcotic event is given from Master HORA to all the parents and all the children who do not want to cripple their life.”
According to Practice HORA’s official American website, www.HORAusa.com, the dance is a “bright and vital, evolutionary trance in which there is no tiredness,” and it is based on “the evolutionary-instinctual stability reflex.” This type of stability and lack of fatigue after practicing HORA is felt over a long period of time, said participant Andrew Ikon, 37.
“When it finished I felt really good… really deep relaxed,” he said, “So based on what I know, I probably need to watch myself for the next couple of weeks or even months to see those feelings.”