We've met with this young couple from Poland the day after they won the Amateur Rising Star Standard at the UK Open 2011. Jacek and Hanna are Polish Amateur Standard finalists. See their results page.
First of all we would like to congratulate you for the win, I mean that was absolutely fantastic. And it was a big surprise to all of us as well. You’re such a young couple, talented…
[Jacek] For us too, thank you so much.
We’ve seen that you had tears in your eyes...
[Hanna] I was surprised really.
[Jacek] I was in shock, it was only a dream really for us.
[Hanna] When we make final I was... I don’t know…so happy. [laughter]
Tell us about your life story. Where did you start dancing, what type of dancing. So let the lady say first.
[Hanna] I started in Zielona Gora in Poland, small town but for example Michal Malitowski is from my club, so good club in a small town. And I didn’t like dancing for the first four years, there was no fun. But after four years my mother said: ‘You want continue or no?’ so I decided to continue and now it’s the most important thing.
How old were you when you started dancing?
9? And did you start from ballroom and Latin, or…?
[Hanna] Yes, ballroom.
Ballroom. Not jazz, ballet or something else?
And did you start as a competitor or just in a club …?
[Hanna] A competitor.
And when did you compete for the first time as a juvenile, as a junior?
[Hanna] Yes. Probably 10 years old.
And how did you meet Jacek?
[Hanna] Err…we danced together 8 months, yes. And he was my competitor, rival. Yes, we met in Polish championships.
And why did you decide to change partnership and start dancing with Jacek?
[Hanna] Err…he split with his partner and after one month I split with my partner so we had a try-out. And I’m really happy that I’m dancing with him. I think it was a very good idea to dance together.
What about you, Jacek?
[Jacek] Similar, I started dancing in Jelenia Gora (not the same as Zielona Gora!). I hated dancing when I first started. My mother especially wanted me to dance because I liked many things, I played football, I played the tennis, I finished music school. I did everything but with dancing I was not so happy. But my mother said ok now you must dance, try everything, and we’ll see what you good at and decide later.
After few years our coach Ruslan came to us to Jelenia Gora from Ukraine and it became more hard work. I went to dance German Open as juvenile and won the Latin. But it did not mean much to me, everyone else was so happy. I did not even understand the rank of this competition! It was OK, I won, but sill did not like dancing and did not want to dance! [laughter]
So maybe another two years passed and I understood that this will be great to continue, and now it’s really important thing for me, so I’m happy.
And how was your first dance together? In the tryout perhaps . Did you feel like it’s…yes! It’s her I want to dance with?
[Jacek] To be honest it was OK, not too bad. So we thought ... OK, not really good but not bad either, we decided to try one competition. Then came second, third and we were feeling better, getting better.
And then finally you won?
It’s one of the most prestigious titles in the world for a young couple. Absolutely fantastic dancing, by the way, it was was really nice. You showed that you were enjoying dancing, you showed that you were really having a good time on the dance floor and then I started to watch you…[laughter]. Where where do you train?
In Warsaw. Do you come for lessons to the famous teachers in England or you just train in Poland?
[Jacek] We started come to England now. Back in September we came for the first time for three or four days, then one day before the International and now three or four days before the UK Open. So only three times.
Are you also a couple in the private life?
[Jacek] No. [laughter]
[Hanna] No, but we like each other. I think that I trust him, I can tell him many things. I don’t know…like good friends really.
Are you studying at a university are you at college are you working or do you just dance?
[Hanna and Jacek] University.
What are you studying?
[Jacek] I study on university, Warsaw University of Technology. Marketing
And you, Hanna?
[Hanna] I study dancing. [laughter]
You dance every day?
And how many hours approximately?
[Jacek] Depends, but nearly…three hours minimum. Sometimes more, especially before a big competition.
[Hanna] Yes, it’s depends. One day we practise five hours and it’s feels like ten minutes for me and some day two hours and it feels like five. [laughter]
Jacek, you said you won German Open Juvenile Latin
You’ve no desire to dance Latin now?
[Jacek] Well, we tried…
[Hanna] Maybe later.
[Jacek] Maybe later. 10 Dances, not just Latin.
[Hanna] Because I had a break from Latin for three years…so comeback is difficult…
Yes, but your posture is more Ballroom and you look more Ballroom than Latin…
So what are your immediate plans now, after this…apart from having a party? [laughter] I guess you had a party.
[Jacek] No, maybe not party because we are really, really exhausted…especially in the semi final, we felt like we died, but we tried…danced to the end of the last second of music but this was really hard.
[Hanna] For me the UK Open was so much fun and it is like Blackpool, it’s the most important competition. So when we danced the final I was really, really happy, it was for me a great experience.
Will you dance the Rising Stars in Blackpool? In May?
[Hanna] Not sure...
[Jacek] I don't know, maybe we will
If you will dance in Blackpool, will you dance the Rising Star and the Open event?
[Jacek] We don’t know…Under 21 I think…
[Hanna] Under 21…
[Jacek] Because won the Rising Star in UK Open maybe we shouldn’t dance the Rising Star in Blackpool…
How old are you then?
19, you’ve got the whole career before you! You can still dance Under 21s for two years. Did you notice that last year the Rising Star Amateur Latin was won by the Latvian couple and Rising Star Ballroom was won the Polish couple and this year it was the Latvian couple and Polish couple again…[laughter] We expect that next year must be another Latvian couple and Polish couple.
[Jacek] Yes!. Poland became quite strong in ballroom, you know it’s like five years ago it was almost no one only few couples and now…
[Hanna] Yes, four couples in Amateur Ballroom in the semi final Blackpool.
Do you prefer to have one coach which deals with everything, or do you prefer to have many teachers so you can get the knowledge from many sources?
[Hanna] Many teachers, but one main coach.
[Jacek] Yes, because we have one main coach and many, many other coaches and I think is the the best idea.
[Hanna] Because we like to have a person who we trust, who can say ok this and that or it’s right but maybe you have to work on this for a month etc. It’s like dancing father. [laughter]
I guess your parents are quite happy with you dancing, aren't they?
As I understand both families wanted you to dance.
[Jacek] Oh yes.
Are they here?
[Hanna] No, no.
[Jacek] They stayed in Poland.
[Hanna] Yes, my dad texted me at two o’clock…2 am: I can’t sleep, I’m so happy.
When you decided to enter the Rising Stars your ambition was to get to the semi final, get to the final?
[Hanna] To be honest, I didn’t expect anything.
You didn’t think…?
[Jacek] I thought if we were in the semi final it would be great for us. But when we were in semi final, I thought OK, maybe we can try to get to the final it would be really great and maybe we… we can even win the final! But after semi final it can be very difficult because it’s really hard to dance all five dances with no break. As you know we won the final, we are so happy now.
Only one couple can win , the other five aren’t so happy.
[Jacek] Yes, last year I was in the final but with another partner. So this time I thought that I'll try to dance semi final really good and hard…
Well you certainly didn’t look as though you were struggling. At the end of the quick step it looked like you could’ve done another round. [laughter]
[Jacek] Yeah, sometimes the struggle is only inside but looks no problem on the outside.
...because being a dancer you have to be actor…
[Jacek] Yeah, yeah…
Does your family finance your dancing or do you try to find some other sources? Sponsors or…?
[Jacek] No, it’s only family.
You said you moved to Warsaw, was it just you or your families moved as well?
[Jacek] My family too, my parents, my brother, my sister.
[Hanna] My family did not move to Warsaw, it was just me.
So your family is still in Zielona Gora?
[Hanna] Yes. Great town, quiet. Not like constant telephones all day. [laughter]
What do you find more important in dancing for you? Is it an artistic part of it, is a competitive part of it?
[Jacek] I think this is mixed for me. If you want to be really good you must have a really good technique. But also be able to show emotion and be good in everything else, in every aspect of dance. For me it's not really one part, it is a combination.
[Hanna] I agree, I think that it’s a sport but it is an artistic sport and you have to show your individuality.
Could you quickly describe your personality?
[Hanna] Me, I’m quite reserved... I have energy but, I can concentrate. I think it’s very important thing in dancing to be able concentrate and believe in yourself. But also to be realistic.
Jacek, and you?
[Jacek] For me, if I know that some idea is really good for me, I go for it, will do everything and will try everything. If I know that some goal is not realistic for me I try not to put too much effort into it.
I know you’ve not been dancing together for long, so last night must be sort of your biggest moment together.
[Jacek] Yes, yes it is really
And Blackpool will be the next...
[Jacek] I hope so, but we will see. Yeah.
Do you travel a lot, or do you dance mainly in Poland?
[Jacek] I think it’s half and half. When we started we went to many coaches to try to take some good information and then we tried to use it and practise really hard in Poland with our coach.
Have you done many international competitions yet?
[Jacek] I think we danced 7 competitions.
[Jacek] IDSFs and the International and now UK Open
So you danced the international?
[Hanna] Yes. But only Under 21.
[Jacek] We were 4th there.
So Blackpool looks good [laughter]
[Jacek] We will see.
Do you teach at all? We hear many times that in some countries the young couples teach the children in the club. Do you teach or not?
[Hanna] I do not.
[Jacek] I do, sometimes. Sometimes a coach asks me to prepare some couple... We do not do it normally, we don’t have any time, free time.
[Hanna] Yes, we want to concentrate on our career because we are young, and it’s time to make progression.
Apart from dancing do you have any other interests? Jacek, you said you used to play football and tennis, do you still play that now?
[Jacek] When I have free time, I try to play football because I like it, and sometime ski.
[Hanna] Me too, I love sports, swimming, tennis.
Some of the dancers we speak to only concentrate on dance, but you do do the other things as well.
[Hanna] Yes, but of course we are careful not to injure ourselves.
If you could not dance, or if you did not dance what do you think you would do instead?
[Hanna] I like design or psychology. [laughter]
And for you, Jacek?
[Jacek] If I could not dance, I think that I would finish my studies at the university and start working in the field I am studying. I wouldn't be too happy about this idea, but I feel I must study.
And if you could change one thing in dancing hat would it be?
[Hanna] Our dancing?
Well, in dancing in general
[Jacek] For me I would love IDSF and English competitions work together!
[Hanna] Yes. No more arguing.
[Jacek] Not like the situation is now.
It's sad really...
[Jacek] Couples now must choose which competition circuit they prefer or want to dance. In Poland there is not so bad, we can dance IDSF and in December they announced we can dance these three biggest English competitions.
And do you do any other form of physical activity to build your fitness level or do you rely purely on your dance practice?
[Jacek] Yes we go to the gym.
[Hanna] Yes I do, because I like it.
Is it like aerobics?
[Hanna] Yes. I like to be tired. [laughter]
That’s why you sleep well.
How do you see your career in the future?
[Jacek] I don' know, we will try our best. In few weeks there will be Polish Championship and we will try to get the best results. It will be interesting [they were 6th].
Is this your first year in the Polish Championship as a couple?
And you danced in the Polish Championship previously with other partners?
And how did you both did?
[Hanna]Jacek was 5th, I was 6th.
[Jacek] So really like together. [laughter]
Do you eat anything that you want to eat or do you keep some diet?
[Jacek] I eat everything what I want. [laughter]
[Hanna] No sweets for me.
We've spoke to Alessandro Camerotto that won the Rising Star Professional Latin last night and I asked him: do you have any special diet, he said: "Yes, I like pasta, pizza and ice cream. I eat them all the time". [laughter]
[Jacek] The food is no problem for me.
When you started dancing together did you have the same coaches or were you with different coaches?
Did you find it a problem when you started to dance together, perhaps coaches gave you different ideas?
[Hanna] No, our main coaches were different but our other coaches were the same and ideas were really similar.
You do you see yourselves continuing dancing in Poland and staying in Poland to dance or do you think that you might go to a different country for a couple of years to experience it there?
[Jacek] Really I didn't think about it, but I think that for now we'll stay in Poland. I think lots of new good couples are now appearing in Poland, which is really nice. We try to keep us together.
That's good for Poland. So many couples nowadays are going to America or Asia...
Once everybody used to come here, to England...
[Hanna] Well, we feel very good in Poland. we have coach in Poland. And university...
How many more years do you have to study? At a university?
[Hanna] 4 and a half.
Have you been to Blackpool before?
[Jacek and Hanna] Yes.
Do you enjoy dancing to the live band at Blackpool?
[Jacek] We definitely like the orchestra.
[Hanna] It feels more special, like celebration, more important
[Jacek] I think that this is especially true with these three competition in England. That they are so special
[Hanna] Tradition is important...
[Jacek] There is tradition of course, but I like the atmosphere. Especially competitions danced in the evening are great!
[Hanna] You feel like years ago, maybe many years ago your idols were dancing to the same music in the same place, on the same dance floor. I leave the great impression.
You haven't danced in the Royal Albert Hall yet, have you? At the international?
[Jacek] We danced the International but only in Brentwood. Not in London
I hear some comments, some people say, the band at Blackpool is now so old fashioned. For me, though, the live music makes you feel special, it inspires you.
[Hanna] Yes, and it makes this event definitely special, yes. I like Blackpool music!
Couples enjoy these big competitions also because everybody that judges them is somebody that they know has achieved something themselves in their time...
[Jacek] I think so! I think that judges in England are best because every judge was a champion or a finalist of Blackpool or another big competition. So I think the best competitions in the world are in England.
[Hanna] Yes and it is such a great feeling to win when you know that adjudicators were the best!
Did you have a lesson with any of those people?
[Jacek] We have a lesson only with John Wood.
What would you say was your partner’s worst fault?
[Hanna] I don't know really because it’s my first partner who I never argue with. Never, never, never and he makes me relax and calm down!
He’s such an easy going person?
[Hanna] He always says: OK, relax or something like that.
And what what’s his best point?
[Hanna] What I just said! [laughter]
What’s her best point?
[Jacek] I think the best point is this that she really wants to be good in dancing and I think that she does work hard to improve.
[Hanna] What I like in Jacek is that we can trust each other.
And your friends are mainly in the dance circuits or outside of the dance world?
[Jacek] Dancers mostly. Because we meet at competitions and see each other compete...
What about your university, do they know that you’re dancing?
[Jacek] Yes. I think that most of them know, but sometimes I prefer not to talk about it.
How do you spend a weekend if you're not competing?
[Hanna] I usually visit my family. [laughter]
[Jacek] I try to spend my weekend actively, as I said before, sometimes I go play football with my friends, with my brother. I like to spend time with family, with my younger sister and brother.
Do you go clubbing, disco?
Your brother is also dancing?
[Jacek] Yes. He is one year younger than me.
Oh, so maybe we will have a interview with you and your brother some time?
[Jacek] Yes, why not! [laughter]
Thank you very much