We enjoyed a friendly, laughter filled and informative meeting with Sarunas Greblikas and Viktoria Horeva the day after their victory in the British Open Amateur Rising Stars Latin with which they were naturally thrilled. They represent Latvia and were the Latvian Amateur Latin vice-champions in 2009. See more results.
At the end of the day the important thing for me in dancing is to be amazed at what two people, individual bodies, are able to create and achieve within themselves
First may we congratulate you for your fantastic win and your name will always be remembered now. Your dancing was fantastic. We heard it said in the 48: "We hope the couple 388 will win"
[Sarunas & Viktoria] (happily) Thank You.
If we may begin by asking you tell us something about you, how and where you started dancing and what age you were.
[Viktoria] Well before I started dancing I was playing tennis and my Father wanted me to win big competitions like Wimbledon and Roland Garros but then my family and my mother especially did not like how I looked, My shoulders were getting wider and things like that and they wanted me to become more feminine and they thought dancesport might be better. So at the age of 10 my Grandmother took me to some studio in a small town in Latvia from where I am. It was a small studio but quite popular in the town and so I started dancing there. Then later I started to travel to Riga for lessons and I became twice Latin Champion. Then at the age of 18 (little laugh) I got together with Sarunas and we started our dancing partnership.
[Sarunas] That is already 5 years ago.
[Viktoria] Yes quite a long time (laughter)
[Sarunas] Well I am also from a small town but in Lithuania, neighbouring country, and I started earlier. I started when I was 6. My birthday is in July and in September I went to First Grade in School and my mother asked that I take this extra course which was dancing and I did not like it at all. (laughter) I was quite an active kid always running around outside with boys playing all kinds of games so to stay inside and dance with a girl was not something I wanted to do. Time passed and my family moved to the capital Vilnius and then I began to take it more serious but not as much as we do at the moment. It was really more kids taking group classes as a hobby and I never thought I would be dancing at this level. It was when my family and I moved to America that was when I decided it was the thing I wanted to do. I got on my own track, began looking for a partner taking more serious lessons. Then after living in America for a few years I decided I wanted to go back to Europe to dance seriously. My family are still in America but I moved back to Europe to dance with Viki
How did you too know each other then, how did you meet?
[Viktoria] We met in a summer camp in Lithuania that was 7 years ago.
[Sarunas] I was dancing with another girl but I knew Viki and after we got in touch with each other as friends with e mails and then I decided we should dance together.
[Viktoria] At first Sarunas wanted me to go to America but then I had a problem with the visa and Sarunas came to Latvia.
[Sarunas] When I think about it now I think thank God it did not happen, the way things have turned out.
[Viktoria] (laughing) I am so happy now.
[Sarunas] Sometimes in life the way things go you wonder, You think it did not happen or you turn around and it was something bigger than you thought. In life, you think, whatever hurts you there is a reason.
Everything happens for a reason.
[Sarunas] Yes, that is what I believe.
Are you a couple in private live?
[Viktoria] We have a very good relationship, very friendly, but no more a couple (laughing).
No more ...
[Sarunas] It is complicated.
[Viktoria] Being together 24 hours a day
Yes, that can be complicated.
[Viktoria] You know when you are not a couple in private life you can be more tough with each other in the practice. (big outbreak of laughter)
[Sarunas] That is one of the reasons. I guess, when you are always soft and nice to each other to achieve certain goals is not easy. The approach is not easy. People fight and argue.
[Viktoria] It is a usual thing to fight, Its normal.
Are one of you more dominant and want your opinion to prevail or do you compromise?
[Viktoria] I think he is the boss (laughter)
[Sarunas] She has her opinion.
[Viktoria] I always have my opinion.
[Sarunas] And we always take it into consideration. Actually to tell you the truth at the moment we have our bosses and both of us feel very glad and very blessed to work with the very best. To me our teachers are the best.
Vktoria They are our bosses.
[Sarunas] Exactly, and it is easier. When you are trying to decide what to do that is where the fights start so if you allow someone else to decide for you and you try to put that inside yourself it makes it easier. As I say Mirko and Gaynor our teachers are just fantastic. I never question them and always trust in what they think is the best for us and so far it works.
Do you go to Hong Kong to have lessons or do you have lessons when they are in Europe?
[Sarunas] We more or less stay in Hong Kong all the time. We try to make it that our schedules are matching.
So when you say you moved to Europe is Hong Kong Europe. (much laughter)
[Sarunas] That is the point. Sometimes people say where do you really live and I say in our luggage. (laughter) it really seems that we travel between cities. At the moment we travel between Hong Kong and UK.
[Viktoria] Sometimes we go home.
[Sarunas] After Blackpool we plan to go home for a week.
[Viktoria] 3 times a year.
[Viktoria] For me Latvia
[Sarunas] Lithuania, but because they are so close we go to both countries.
A question we like to ask. Can you describe your partners biggest virtue and biggest fault?
[Viktoria] (very enthusiastically) OK. (outbreak of laughter)
[Sarunas] It is like she has a big list already prepared. (more laughter)
A prepared list of virtues or faults?
[Viktoria] (laughter) I think he is very very stubborn. This is in a good way and also in a bad way. His stubbornness helps us to reach the goals we have set so this is very good for us but once you come to practice it is sometimes difficult to cope with his character. Actually at the end of the day I like it because he has a very strong character and once he has set a target he achieves it.
[Sarunas] So that is one fault and one virtue so..........(laughter)
[Viktoria] It is the main one (laughing), his main characteristic.
This must be a Lithuanian characteristic as when we interviewed Katusha and Arunas, Katusha said he is so stubborn it is terrible yet it is very good. (laughter)
[Viktoria] Yes, true.
[Sarunas] I admire Viki very much. From the very beginning the main idea for success is sticking together really going through to the end. There is the consistency because there are always the happy and the hard moments and we try to support each other and especially when we have tough times.
[Viktoria] (laughing) before every competition is a tough time.
[Sarunas] What I really admire is even when it is tough, there were many bad moments, she stayed. I have a big appreciation towards Viki.
So what are the minus points? (laughs)
[Sarunas] Minus are possibly a female thing being emotionally involved into solving problems and things. Probably we complete each other because I think it is better to follow the logic and the mind rather than the emotional approach. I guess it is more normal for a female to folow emotions.
[Viktoria] I think the emotions help to dance.
[Sarunas] Yes, it helps to dance but I am saying in solving problems you have to be very clear minded.
[Viktoria] Yes, that's true.
[Sarunas] They say when you are upset or angry it is better not to make drastic decisions. In the same way Viki is a very emotional girl and I am sure on the dance floor people can see this. She has this spirit where when everything is down, she is way up there and going 200% and that brings me up.
[Viktoria] I want to say Sarunas has a very clear mind and is very focused on what he is doing and this is very good.
It is incredible that you are not a couple in private life because when you are dancing the chemistry between you is so intense. In the Rumba you were a man and a woman dancing for each other. Now you say “No, we are not a couple” (laughter)
[Sarunas] Thank you very much. That is a big compliment. Strange, a lot of people say this to us. We practise a lot and spend a lot of time together and although we are not a couple in private life we know each other, we sense each other very well. The time we spend together is much more than a couple in private life,
[Viktoria] Now of course I know every gesture of Sarunas and what it means. For instance the lifting of an eye brow (laughter)
[Sarunas] You have to sense your partner. It is beyond just practising. I do not know but we have never really tried to fake it, it somehow just happens and people talk about it. We are just so happy because we are not practising it and we are somehow just connected.
What is the most important thing for you in dancing?
[Sarunas] A very wide question....
[Viktoria] For me, when I enjoy dancing this is everything. Sometimes you try to create new steps, sometimes you try to improve your technique and you do many things but at the end of the day you have to enjoy it. For me that is most important because as Sarunas said I am a very emotional girl so when I feel not right in myself or my mood is very down I cannot dance. Although my technique is OK on that day I can feel in myself the dancing is not right I am not enjoying it.
So you were in a good mood yesterday?
[Viktoria] Yes. (Laughing)
[Sarunas] (laughing) She made herself happy. It is hard when you dance every day and for so many hours to keep yourself in a good mood and having the time of your life. It is just not possible. When you have specific tasks, aspects like, lets say, trying to improve your body there is nothing really pleasant about it so you have to go through those processes. At the end of the day the important thing for me in dancing is to be amazed at what two people, individual bodies, are able to create and achieve within themselves. I have seen not only in myself but in other people what it is possible to do with bodies, even if they are not the most talented or have the greatest bodies. Some people are just born with immaculate bodies. Knowing that every single minute is spent in sweating and working on yourself that you can look at yourself or have people look at you an appreciate it . Then there is a return, you have done it and you can do even more. To me this hunger, knowing the sky is the limit means everything is in your hands. The more you go the more you see there is no impossibility. If you look at gymnasts or ballet dancers or circus performers people are doing things you would never believe it is possible to do. So our dancing is difficult in a different way but knowing if you want it, if you have the right people around you, the right information then
[Viktoria] Nothing is impossible.
[Sarunas] There is no limit, it might be painful but no limit.
So we will see you in the winners enclosure tomorrow night (Tuesday - Amateur Championship)
[Sarunas] Oh I wish.
Dance is both a sport and an art which one plays the bigger part for you, is the most important.
[Viktoria] I think it is actually both because our dancesport cannot be just a sport not cannot it be just an art. It is one helps the other.
Do you have many coaches or just the 2 you mentioned.
[Sarunas] These are our two main coaches.
But do you go to other coaches for advice.
[Sarunas] We do have other people that we go to for advice but it is very rare. If we had a chance we may use it but the main work done is with these two people.
[Viktoria] Sometimes it is very good to have another idea. Of course for me Gaynor is a very big inspiration.
[Sarunas] Not only for Viki. Gaynor is someone very special.
[Viktoria] Very special indeed
[Sarunas] It is very difficult to describe because the experience, the spirit of this extraordinary person is special and you need to sense it. Everyone who has a chance to see her demonstrate with Donnie appreciates it and when you have the chance to work with her is something else. If you ask me that question is it sport or art, we need the bodies to be ready to do all that an artist wishes to see, say your teacher, so if your body is not capable you fail in a way. You need to train your body to where you can make this happen. I think our teachers approach to dancing is very artistic . I don't think we dance as athletes because you have a lot of couples who are very athletic, very strong, very fast, very flexible and so on and we believe in a different style. In a way that makes it different I think but when you have a big competition, say Blackpool, you have to be ready physically and mentally so in a way sport is the body preparation but the approach is artistic.
Body preparation has nothing to do with sport because for instance ballet dancers must have incredible body preparation but that has nothing to do with sport.
[Sarunas] But it is the training. For example we also go to the gym or do extra exercises to get ready. Of course if you call chess a sport it has no physical activity at all it is a mental game. Or lets say golf is a sport but it does not require such physical strength.
It was said to us once “all the time I am training and preparing for the competition that is sport but the moment I walk onto the floor then it is art”.
[Sarunas] Yes, it is like that.
It is surprising how you speak far more as a Professional couple rather than an Amateur couple. So many couples have said for them the big difference between Amateur and Professional is that speed is no longer so important and emotions are. Maybe we shall see you in the Professionals soon (laughter) Do you also teach in Hong Kong?
[Sarunas] Not too much. We try to concentrate and work on our dancing. Probably the money and things will come if you work hard enough. I know some people try to teach more, this is to do with money. At the moment we only do enough to support ourselves and our main concentration is on ourselves and our dancing and practising.
How many hours a day do you normally try to practise?
[Viktoria] On average probably 6 hours. Some in the morning and then later in the afternoon.
[Sarunas] It depends because if it is before a big competition like this then it is more. One thing for sure is we try to practise every day. Every one has different approaches but we are from the school where if you look at Gaynor's experience it was all about practice and we believe in it.
[Viktoria] I think that starting from the UK Open to Blackpool we only had one day off and every day we practised.
[Sarunas] One or two days.
[Viktoria] No Sundays, no holidays. Just practice
[Sarunas] I was unhappy because I had an eye infection and there was one or two days I could not dance.
[Viktoria] I still went every day to the studio on my own.
Is there any special preparation before a big competition? Changes in your life style?
[Sarunas] As you may have noticed that for the last 2 years we are not really doing many competitions and those we do are major competitions. In the sense that now Blackpool is over the next competition will be the International we treat it as a period of time to get ready. I guess only about a month before the comp it becomes more intensive otherwise we just try to keep the same path of getting ready. I believe if you are constant then you do not need to put yourself under huge pressure before. (Laughing) Although the pressure is always there and you try and it never succeeds. The moment you get to the competition the nerves are there and I guess that's natural. Someone said in an interview once “if you are not nervous then you are not loving it enough”.
[Viktoria] So before a big competition we are just concentrated on the dancing. Nothing else. You wake up in the morning, you go to the studio, you warm up and you dance Then you go to the gym and again you are concentrating just on the dancing.
[Sarunas] It is good because nobody can enter your minds only your teachers enter your concentration.
The International in Brentwood is not special but to make the Albert Hall is wonderful
[Viktoria] The Albert Hall is very special we love it.
What, for you, is the most important competition in the world?
[Viktoria] I think there are the 3 competitions that are really great, fabulous, and I could not say which one I liked the best. Blackpool is very special with its tradition and beautiful hall. The UK is very cosy and with very nice atmosphere and the music is great.
[Sarunas] I like the UK music.
[Viktoria] The Albert Hall is also something very special (laughs) so you cannot choose from these 3 competitions which is the best.
[Sarunas] Before we used to do so many competitions all around the world but these competitions were just competitions. These 3 they are like a part of your life. You spend every day just to get ready for them and each one is special in a different way and to say which is the best for me is not possible. They are all the best and in a different perspective each has their big pluses. The main thing is if you just enjoy each one it does not really matter. Lets say, to dance on the big Blackpool floor or to dance in the Albert Hall, a smaller floor in a different shape is a totally different experience but great in its own way.
Not a lot of people get to experience the Albert Hall
[Sarunas] Actually, we experienced it only once.
[Viktoria] (laughing) Only once
[Sarunas] But I loved every second of it. It was great. Overall, I like live music, a live band. For as long as I can remember I always liked a live band.
[Viktoria] We feel we always dance better with a live band, live music.
[Sarunas] I don't know why but the sound is just so different and makes your body move different
[Viktoria] It gets inside you and so you already feel the music from inside your body.
[Sarunas] That is probably why the rest of the competitions where they have recorded music playing is like a routine and not special, As I said to us a live band makes a big difference and we love to dance to a live band.
So as you approach a competition you do not care too much about the bans which have happened in the politics at the moment.
[Sarunas] We cannot dance IDSF competitions, they banned us so we are not too involved in that part but to be honest we are not doing too many competitions because that is what we have chosen to do. For us it is like a celebration. You get to these competitions and the feelings are indescribable. The rest you do not want to do because it is all like a routine. We are not trying to say other competitions are bad but we did it. We did many competitions.
[Viktoria] We did competitions every weekend
[Sarunas] We did a lot of competitions and I am sure if you go to dancesportinfo you can see (outbreak of laughter) but we are not allowed to dance IDSF and we do not cry about it.
[Viktoria] I feel sorry for all the danceworld to have such a situation. We just want to choose, and not say we cannot go there or there.
[Sarunas] I believe that even those who have taken sides so too speak, deep in their hearts they would still love to come and compete on that floor.
[Viktoria] Of course.
[Sarunas] For whatever reason they decided not to come I am sure deep inside they would want to do it, and that is a shame.
Are you coming under any sort of pressure to dance the WDC Asian Amateur League events seeing as you are living in Hong Kong, being told you have got to dance this or that event
[Viktoria & Sarunas] No. No
[Sarunas] No pressure. It is our life and our choice. You spend the hours, and the money you give everything and at the end of the day if you cannot do what you want to do what is the sense, the point of doing it.
Could you tell me what in your opinion is the difference between an Amateur and a Professional dancer. Let me explain, in practice you lead the Professional life you do not live in your country dancing is practically the only thing you are doing. Your thinking is like a Professional. What is the difference or is Professional a higher class of dancing.
[Sarunas] I think in a sense (pauses) I don't want to sound wrong, but I think in a sense it comes down to when at a competition or even in the practice hall if you look at the top Professionals you realise that certain things come with age and experience and perhaps dancing together for those extra years. You look at it and try to understand that there are so many more things to come and so many things to do with yourself to be there. About the difference I really don't know. We have our own approach and maybe as you say it is more Professional than Amateur but it is for people to decide.
[Viktoria] I think we do lead a Professional life already.
[Sarunas] We do not try to describe ourselves, let other people do that. Probably that is the point, you do the competition, but do not compete, you let the audience appreciate , to get your result. Maybe it is the approach to the competition that makes the difference because most of the Youth and Amateur couples are “competing”. Maybe not the very top ones, but the majority.
[Viktoria] I think the biggest difference is the experience and the dedication to what you are doing. Maybe Youth, Amateur couples do not have the time to dedicate their lives to dancing or have still not decided to do that. The Professionals have already decided what they wish to do with their lives.
[Sarunas] Yes, but I am sure the top Amateur couples have decided. And are already adjusting themselves.
[Viktoria] I am not talking about the top couples
[Sarunas] I am not sure on the thinking. If I turn Pro now is there to be a radically different approach and thinking because if that is so you are in a sense saying whatever you were doing was wrong. For 15 years I was doing this and that and now I realise I am wrong?
Returning to the beginning of the interview you are both now about 23, 24 years of age.
Do you have any special diet?
[Viktoria] (Burst of laughter) Don't tell ! (more laughter.)
[Sarunas] I like food.
[Viktoria] We like food. I like sweets and I like chocolate a lot.
[Sarunas] I always think food is one of the things you use to appreciate life, When you get to the table and you are hungry you think “Oh my God it was worthwhile to live and get here” (laughter). Of course you try to control yourself and everyone gets to a point when they know themselves . If you train really really hard then you can allow yourself to eat more but not too heavy. We have no really special diet or follow a formula.
[Viktoria] I try not to eat in the evening. Night time especially I try not to eat.
If you could change one thing about dancing what would it be.
[Sarunas] The first thing that came to my mind these things that are happening in the political side but if you look at it in a way it balances out. Nature, the perfection of it, and it shows how the system works. There is a lot of cruelty, unfairness and the system keeps on going. Result-wise I never, even when we had bad results, felt wrong. Everything has a reason even when you are very upset . From the dance point of view everyone makes their own choices. That is the part where one stands above the other because of the choices he makes and the path he chooses. So in a way it is all free and the great part about it is everything is in your hands and if you want something you can get it. The way things are is not perfect but it works and if it gets to the stage where things are not good, lets say, we hear people say, dancesport used to be much better, it had more class, this is because people made wrong choices. The other way round is that dancesport has developed so much better and that is because people developed it. People make choices and I guess the system works.
So you would not change anything.
[Sarunas] I don't know, of course this part to be free, to do things , this banning thing
[Viktoria] (laughs) This is another plus and minus thing. He talks too much. Of course it's good from one side
[Sarunas] But every one makes choices as to what they want to do.
Maybe there is something Viktoria wants to change.
[Viktoria] I am also quite happy with things, maybe to have more competitions like these big 3 but from the other side if we did have more competitions like this we might not appreciate it as much. But deep in myself I would like more competitions like this.
[Sarunas] Viki loves to compete.
[Viktoria] I love to compete on that floor.
You have Assen and Paris.
[Viktoria] Yes, but this is great. This is like Royal. Actually I like the process of competition much more than practising (laughs)
Do you prefer shows or competitions?
[Viktoria] We do not do many shows and for now I prefer competitions.
[Sarunas] Competitions. My teacher says you compete because you love it and it's true. You do a show because people ask you to do a show. I know there are people who like doing shows but in a way, why do we practice, take lessons, buy costumes, travel. It is to compete and we must like it.
Viktoria, with your dresses, do you have a lot of say in what you wear? Do you choose or, for example, does a sponsor provide and you just have to wear?
[Viktoria] No, no. My dresses are all designed by Gaynor. She is my inspiration, she is my teacher, she is my everything and so also she does my dresses and I trust her completely and she designs each detail. Gaynor is great, she is fabulous.
A Lady with many talents.
[Sarunas] I guess if you are talented then you have other talents.
So what are your other talents?
[Sarunas] (laughing) They are all hidden. Time will show.
[Viktoria] Mine would be tennis.
[Sarunas] Actually, last night when we won the Rising Star, Viki's father said “If you won Wimbledon how much money would you get”. (much laughter.)
Yes, as for money winnings, dancesport is probably not the best choice
[Sarunas] Hey we do it we like it (laughs)
But they must have been very proud.
[Viktoria] Of course, to win at Blackpool is for us like Wimbledon. (laughs)
So thank you very much for talking to us and we wish you every success in the Amateur Championship and in your future career.