It was a pleasure to talk to this young, ambitious couple from Latvia. They won the Amateur Rising Star Latin competition at the UK Open 2011. The next day we met with them in the lobby of Bournemouth International Center where the competition took place. Slavik and Tereza are the current reigning Latvian Amateur Latin champions. See more results.
It's very important to have a dream, and to set some targets for your future and then to believe in that
So let's start with the congratulations, absolutely fantastic result. I hope you're happy as well. It's a step to the big championships, so maybe next year we will congratulate you for winning the Open competition! [laughter]
[Slavik and Tereza] Thank you
When did you start dancing?
[Tereza] I'm dancing since I was 5. I had problems with my spine so my mother decided to give me the dancing to correct them. I was dancing about 2 years in a dance club called Grazia. And after 2 years I moved to the...
Grazia, in Latvia?
[Tereza] Yes in Latvia, all my life I'm dancing in Latvia. And then I moved to another club. I changed my partner and actually it was a very long partnership, we also danced in the Junior 1 and Junior 2, a lot of championships and national championship and cups, also won some of them.
[Slavik] Some? She won...
[Tereza] About 6 times!
[Slavik] Tereza won six times in the Juniors 1 and Junior 2 in all styles so she's a real champion.
[Tereza] When I was 14 Slavik and I decided to dance together. We are dancing together for 4 years now.
[Slavik] Yes, well... so my first steps weren't as successful as Tereza's. It was my mum's idea to make me dancing because she always wanted her son to dance. Firstly it was like a after-school social club, 2-3 times a week we danced. And... I started to dance seriously, yes my career began in Junior 1. I danced to better standard and I changed my profile for Latin only. Then I became one time Latvian Junior 2 champion and we swapped partners with Tereza so...
[Tereza] So we had a change...
[Slavik] Yeah. My previous partner was Valerija and Tereza's was Edgars. Then the following year we changed partners and now we dancing together for 3 and a half...
[Tereza] 4... I think in April will be 4.
[Slavik] 4 years, yes, 4 years
So how did you swap partners, how did you meet?
[Slavik] We actually danced in one club and we were two best couples in the Juniors age group, but we saw each other all the time in the practice, all the time in the studio and I saw how Tereza worked, how Tereza danced and I really liked it. I saw myself with Tereza.
[Tereza] It was his idea.
[Slavik] Yes it was... it was my idea. I called Tereza and we organised a try out. Because Tereza won the national championship she and her partner would have to go to the World Championships but we had try out before the world.
[Tereza] I split before the World Junior 2 Latin.
[Slavik] So, for me, she gave up the Worlds!
[Tereza] Because of him, yes. We had different goals with my previous partner so I wanted more and I felt that I can do more.
So you're dancing together for 4 years, so you're 18 now?
[Tereza] 18, I'm 18 and he's 19.
Very young for winning UK Open, right?
Very, very young.
[Slavik] It's good, it's good beginning of our way for future. I'm proud that we are still young and we dance top 24 in this age. So it could be good beginning for the future.
[Tereza] A free ticket.
It is becoming a pattern now. Last year Amateur Latin was won by a Latvian couple
[Slavik and Tereza] Yes.
And Amateur Ballroom was won by the Polish couple last year and this year the same. Amateur Latin both years, Latvian couples
[Tereza] So we continue the traditions.
So next year we are expecting another Latvian couple and Polish couple!
[Slavik] Well maybe...
[Tereza] We don't know.
Would you dance Rising Star at Blackpool or will you not?
[Tereza] Actually it is a problem for us because I have exams in May. I'm still studying in school.
So it's a problem this year for you?
[Tereza] Yes, maybe we will come for the Amateurs, but we are not sure.
[Slavik] Yes, I want to say that last year [May 2010] was a problem for us because I had exams. I'm one year older and that's why we had to go home the next day. So we used these two days to go and win Blackpool!
Just to win Blackpool...
[Slavik] Veni vidi vici...We were laughing... we went, won and came back. [Slavik and Tereza won the Under21 Latin in 2010]
Yes, it's fantastic... both results. What are your plans after you finish school?
[Slavik] I'm studying now in the university, special university for dancers. As we have it in the Latvia for dance and choreography. Yes, it's 4 years education so now I can more focus on dancing, on my career. I specially made this choice to stay focused because if you study in the serious university you can't be so focused in dancing.
Is it just ballroom and Latin that you're studying or do they do... for instance other forms of dance?
[Slavik] It's nether ballroom nor Latin, it's more like modern dance
[Tereza] He's learning for a dance teacher.
[Slavik] Dance teacher so it's ballet, it's dance history, modern dance, pedagogics et cetera. Psychology... So it really helped me.
[Tereza] I decided to go to the musical academy. For me it's also the same that I want to focus more on the dancing so I need more time, yes, for working and dancing, and practising. But for me it's... very, very good because I finished musical school. I will learn choreography, some ballet and dances but I also will learn some musical theory. For me it's a big plus I think, studying there.
[Slavik] Why we made this choice, well in Latvia we don't have so much money in sport. We have to teach, we have to work and more concentrate on our dance career now. For the last 2 years we pay ourselves for our dancing so parents are not supporting us financially.
[Tereza] We are not relying on them financially.
[Slavik] Yes. Of course they help, yeah, but it's like moral support. Because Tereza and I think that we are grown-ups now and we have to pay for our dancing, it is our choice, it's not their choice. So now we try to find the ways how to ...
[Tereza] How we can develop ourselves.
[Slavik] Develop and get some money for competitions, lessons, et cetera.
Oh so you are trying to pay yourself for your dancing now?
[Tereza] We are doing it actually.
[Slavik] Maybe that's why we don't go so much to competitions, we don't have so many lessons in England. I'm proud of it because we won Blackpool. And before winning Blackpool we practised in England only three times ever. I'm proud of this, yes. Because we really proved that we can win without any politics.
[Tereza] But it doesn't mean we want to practise on our own only. [laughter]
But it also proves that contrary to some opinions, you know, the judging on Blackpool is fair.
[Slavik] Yes, exactly. Because you don't have to buy your way to the winning place.
[Tereza] It was such a pleasure...
[Slavik] It was a pleasure to win Blackpool and we proved ourselves. And it helps now also for us to believe in our dancing, what we are doing.
[Tereza] But that always not political or moneys.
Do you have sponsors for your clothes or do you have to pay yourselves?
[Tereza] Actually I have now, since the beginning of this year. I had a proposal from EM Salon in Lithuania. They are sponsoring also Edita Daniute. She is such a nice woman. We had a meeting and now I'm also very happy that I have some support from them. I hope it will be a little easier for us now. In the past we have received grants from Riga City Council.
I think in the United Kingdom people will be happy to sponsor you... or should be...
[Tereza] We hope.
[Slavik] We hope so. Because couples at our level have sponsors. But as I said, in Latvia it's really difficult situation...
[Slavik] Yes, so in Latvia we can't find anyone because nobody is interested in dancing in this situation. That's why we try to find help somewhere else. [Now Stardust and AIDA are sponsoring them]
Are you also couple in the private life?
[Slavik and Tereza] Yes.
[Tereza] We have only worked together in the beginning. We were only 14, 15 when we started dancing together.
[Slavik] Yes and then it...
[Tereza] ... developed into something more [laughter]
Do you think that private relationship helps dancing or disturbs dancing?
[Tereza] I think it depends on people...
What about you?
[Tereza] I think that in some occasions it's very good, because you can feel the partner's support, yes, you can feel the relationship, you can make it show to the public and to the judges. But sometimes it is also very difficult to find the one language between two people.
[Slavik] Especially in the working process in the studio, when we practise...
[Tereza] It is sometimes so...
[Slavik] ... so really disturbing. But I want to say that in the competition it helps me, for example, to show my emotions. I'm more open to Tereza and I can show what I feel in that moment.
[Tereza] Of course if you know your partner well, also your dance will change in the future.
[Slavik] So I think it help us to be more... together on the floor.
Do you do anything other than dance? Do you have any other activities that you enjoy?
[Slavik] Actually, we don't. We are really focused, we are concentrating on our dancing, we practise every day about 2-3 hours and then we have work and Tereza has school. I have university so, physically, there is no time for other hobbies.
[Tereza] I'm also playing violin.
[Slavik] Yes, so Tereza yes, Tereza is more... developed than me! I'm more focused on dancing and Tereza tries to do many other things. It's good.
[Tereza] I also like reading. For me the best thing is books.
[Slavik] so when have free time we, for example, spend time together in the cinema or in the cafes or reading. I also like to read.
[Tereza] It doesn't happen often.
[Slavik] Yes, but it depends on time.
When you with friends, are they almost always dancing friends or do you have and they from the Latvian university or school?
[Tereza] We have some friends who we know well, but actually we don't have very good friends like you know like a family friends. There is no time for contact and spending time, it's pretty difficult to keep in touch with people.
[Slavik] And in the dancing it's also very difficult to have a friendship, a true friendship, because we are all competitors. Latvia is such a small country and everyone is competing against each other and it's really difficult to find very good friend. It's better to have a friend outside dancing.
[Tereza] Slavik is my friend.
[Slavik] Yes, we are friends.
[Tereza] The best one!
Do you get yourself fit to do 5-6 rounds, do you just dance or do you go to the gym, jog or...?
[Slavik] Yes, we have a special offer from a gym in our town. They invited us to come...
[Tereza] Whenever we want.
[Slavik] Whenever we want, yes. To do some physical exercises and when we have time we of course use it.
[Tereza] When I have time I also try to go to do some ballet, modern dances and for example step. It is very popular, it keeps you fit. I think that it is really important, especially for the girls in the dancing, because you need not only to be fit but also in control of your body in all occasions, in all positions and also to do something that the others can't do. It can then become your speciality and your forte.
[Slavik] So we try to develop our bodies.
[Tereza] Not only in the dancing way.
[Slavik] I go to the gym to develop my masculine figure, I try to do ballet, to control my body, to control my legs. Of course main principles in ballet and in our dancing are different
[Tereza] I think that the classics help.
[Slavik] It helps to stretch your legs, be more beautiful, more open, so it helps to produce an image.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
[Slavik] Oh I can't describe myself!
[Tereza] I can describe you.
There will be your turn next, let him speak. [laughter]
[Slavik] Ok, I can start talking about Tereza!
No, no! About yourself
[Slavik] I can't... I can't describe myself. I think other people can describe me
Ok, do think about yourself as optimist, happy person?
[Slavik] Yes, I am happy person because I dance, I do what I want, I do what I love and I do it with one person who I love and who likes me very much. I found myself in life, I express myself. I can also say that I started to be proud of myself that I can get such good results.
How would you describe Tereza?
[Slavik] Tereza is a very open person, very kind, she is like a little Miss Sunshine! Always positive, nice to everyone. She never says anything bad about another person, that's a first thing I like about her. She's very hardworking. We have our targets and we go straight into this, so if want to practise 5 hours, she will be with me. If I want to practise 7 hours she'll also do this. This working process is very good.
Tereza, how would you describe yourself?
[Tereza] Err... actually I also found myself in a dancing and I'm also proud of that as there are some people who don't know what to do with their future. I think that sometimes I can be pessimistic. He said that I'm like a sunshine and I'm shining yes but sometimes of course there are moments when I feel that I can do nothing and it's pretty difficult to me to fight this feeling. I'm trying to keep optimistic feelings in myself because I think that Slavik is more pessimistic than I am. [laughter]
Yes, of course...
[Tereza] He's really hardworking, really hardworking, more than I am. He's really determined to achieve his dreams. He's generally positive when everything is ok, very positive but sometimes...
[Slavik] No I...
[Tereza] No no no, but sometimes when something is wrong he's very pessimistic and I try to help him... because I know that he is a very good person and just sometimes he doesn't know how to fight these feelings.
[Slavik] It happens because all the time I have targets and if I don't achieve them I'm starting to think that it's going the wrong way
[Tereza] Everything is bad then...
[Slavik] I then think we're doing something wrong. So it's really important to believe in yourself, in your dance.
And Slavik, what's her biggest fault?
[Slavik] I think she reacts too strongly to my bad comments to her, for example, about her dresses or something like that or her dancing. I try to say to Tereza what I really think. And if I think something is wrong I say it.
[Tereza] He's very strict.
[Slavik] Yes, and Tereza reacts emotionally, she feels hurt. So it's her biggest problem, but now it's better. I managed to change her!
Tereza, what's his biggest problem? Biggest fault?
[Tereza] I think that... just let me think... he sometimes is a little bit too crazy in the things he is doing. Perhaps it also explains why he has such good results yes because he's sometimes really crazy.
[Slavik] And that's too much
[Tereza] Too much
[Slavik] I mad about dancing because as I said we do not have so much possibilities to go abroad and to have lessons and lectures. Everything we achieved now is thanks to our own work and our teacher's work. we have a very good teacher in Latvia. He's one of the best in Baltic States and he's a very talented teacher. So we work only with him and last year we started work with Colin James so it's 2 people who help us. [Slavik and Tereza now regulary go to Knut Saborg Dancestudio in Orebro in Sweden when they work and dance]
Is your teacher here with you?
[Slavik] Of course. What is interesting is that his main job is a doctor. So in the mornings till approximately 2 o'clock every day he works in a hospital.
[Tereza] In surgery. He is a surgeon, a brain surgeon
[Slavik] Yes and after that he comes to the studio and gives about 8 lessons a day.
[Tereza] It's really difficult I think.
[Slavik] This is really difficult and... so that's why we also respect him. He's not so concentrated on dancing.
[Tereza] Dancing is not the only thing in his head!
[Slavik] Yes, because nowadays many teachers are full time dancers, live in the dancing world
[Tereza] But also some dancers don't see anything else, just dancing
[Slavik] Yes this is maybe our problem also. [laughter]
So at the moment you've got one main coach as I understand, yes?
[Slavik] Yes, Otis.
[Tereza] Yes, and also we are working with Colin James.
Does Colin come to Latvia or are you coming to Poland?
[Tereza] We are coming to Poland or going to London.
[Slavik] But it's not so often. We took lessons about 4 or 5 times in our life so it's not so often and Otis was also his student when he was dancing. Now we have more possibilities and we'll try to get more information. We will try to go abroad in February to Carolin Smith
[Tereza] We will see how it goes.
[Slavik] We will try to widen our experience.
Is there any couple, in the past or currently dancing, which you would like to be like?
[Tereza] Actually there are so many dancers who I really like. And for me, they are very, very good dancers and teachers. There is no one single person who I would like to be like. I think that in dancing it is really important to have your personality. For me the best couple in the world were Stefano Di Filippo and Anna Melnikova, they were my favourite couple. I like some other professional couples. But for me Stefano and Anna were the best in the world.
Not dancing any more unfortunately.
[Slavik] My opinions change all the time. For example 3 years ago I liked very much Slavik Kryklyvyy
[Slavik] On his own. Now I also watch videos, watch top couples and from each one I take something special. I see what I like and try to mix it, combine, to show people my interpretation.
[Tereza] So he designs a new style of dancing!
[Slavik] Yes, because it's very important to have your own style, your own individual style
[Tereza] To be unique.
[Slavik] There are a lot of copies of other couples on the floor.
[Tereza] Even the dresses are copied.
[Slavik] Dancers sometimes end up without their face, if you know what I mean
Even the hairstyle, even the makeup.
[Tereza] Yes, everything
[Slavik] So this is a big problem now I think try to develop and to show to people our own unique performance. To show them how we imagine our dancing, how we see our dancing, It needs to come from inside.
[Tereza] From our soul.
Is there any dance which is your favourite or your strongest?
[Tereza] For me it changes. It depends on your mood, on the competition, of course, on the music on the day. But the most beautiful dance for me and the easiest to present is Rumba for me. It lets me show the relationship between us, I think.
[Slavik] So it's the closest to our heart dance for us. I also like the Samba because of this changing rhythm. But I think the Rumba is the best where we can show everything what we can feel. For example, yesterday, we danced every round differently. We danced what we felt in that moment so it was every time different.
[Tereza] So the dance floor is like a scene in a theatre, I think.
[Slavik] Yes, and that's what we try to show. So sometimes we can improvise. I like to do it and Tereza sometimes is angry with me because of that but it makes our dance more natural. So it's very important for us.
Every dancer has got at least three faces, one of them is a sportsman, one is an artist, and the third one is a performer like an actor... which one suits you the best?
[Slavik] For sure we are not sportsmen.
[Tereza] For sure.
[Slavik] And about last two ...
[Tereza] I think that we trying to combine them, last two things. Trying to be artists.
[Slavik] Yes, for us, as Tereza said, we try to show the more artistic side of dance, not sport. So we are, for example, not so fast compared with other couples.
[Tereza] Our technique is also very important.
[Slavik] I think our place is this: theatre. We try to show ourselves and perform.
I must say I'm surprised. What you said we usually hear from much more mature couples than you, older couples.
[Slavik] It's a pleasure to hear this, we try to be more professional in our to dance.
[Tereza] Because all couples have their priorities. We understand that we're not sportsmen, we don't want do some jumping in the air or 100 turns et cetera.
[Slavik] Of course this aspect is also very important because if you're not ready, your body's not ready, you can't show this artistic side. You can't perform if you look dead on the floor!
Do you have any special diet? What do you eat?
[Tereza] No, actually I don't have any diet, but I really like fruits and vegetables so there is no special diet for me. I like eating healthy food. But in England it's pretty difficult.
[Slavik] Yes [laughter]
[Tereza] And you?
[Slavik] I think it's Tereza's influence that I also started to think what I eat. For example, we don't eat in McDonald's in Riga
[Tereza] It's disgusting.
[Slavik] Only when... only when we traveling around we go to McDonald's...
[Tereza] Because it's fast.
[Slavik] It's like a rule for us not to go to McDonald's at the home.
Which places, which competitions you remember best?
[Slavik] Blackpool of course because actually it was our first Blackpool last year.
Oh it was your first Blackpool?
[Tereza] It was our first Blackpool together. I already have been to the Junior Blackpool but I was 11 years old so I was dancing in the Junior 1
It's a completely different Blackpool
[Tereza] Of course,
[Slavik] And I heard about this competition when I was young and I dreamt that some day I will come and win
And you did!
[Slavik] Yes, and it was really my dream and I remember when I came into the hall I...
[Tereza] He had a feeling that today something will happen...
[Slavik] No, I didn't think that I should win or something like that. I just felt that today will be a special day for me in my life. And we showed I think our best dancing ever because this atmosphere helped us. It was amazing experience and it really helped us.
[Tereza] For me it was also Blackpool because it was.. .like a moment of happiness. You know, when you hear your number and... I cannot find the words to describe it!
[Slavik] Yes, and of course it was winning Blackpool when we did not expect it. Only one couple, Andrei Zaitsev, in the history won Blackpool for the first time, we are second so we are proud of it.
[Tereza] Also I really like German Open. For me it's also very good competition I was dancing there since 2004. I like the music, the atmosphere.
[Slavik] I can say that I won few of the biggest competitions, we won Blackpool, we won German Open, now UK and now what is left is the International. So yes, we are lucky that we won these main competitions. It's really good, good feeling.
So if you come to Blackpool this year would you dance in the Under 21 still?
[Tereza] Only Rising Stars or Amateurs. I'm pretty sure that we won't dance the Rising Stars, because it happens when I have exams so maybe we'll come to the Amateur. We won't dance under 21.
[Slavik] I think, after winning UK, we also we'll concentrate more on Amateur.
[Tereza] Because we need to move ourselves forward and not staying in one place, of course
[Slavik] It is really important to me to keep moving forward. I'm afraid that one day we will stop developing so I am trying to work hard all the time developing myself and not to stop.
[Tereza] It the worst thing that can happen... in the dancing.
[Slavik] Yes, for us... So we have to really all the time push forward, forward, forward.
Those exams you are having it's the final exam at school?
[Tereza] Yes. I'm finishing this year
[Slavik] So it's also very important for Tereza not to miss them. So we'll think...
So you're crazy about dancing but not so crazy to miss exams...
[Slavik] Of course not, yes because it's also important
[Tereza] I will try to combine my exams with the Blackpool [Tereza confirmed to us they are coming to Blackpool to dance Amateur Latin]
[Slavik] If we won't go we will send the cup to the organisers and we'll wait for next year.
This is because even the Amateur event is over three days, isn't it?
[Slavik] Rising Star is three days and Amateurs, I think, two days.
You're very young what advice would you give to other young dancers?
[Slavik] From my experience, I'd say to have a dream. It's very important to have a dream, and to set some targets for your future and then to believe in that.
[Tereza] You should know what you want. And you need to find your way how to do it. Not just listening to a teacher and do what they say.
[Slavik] Yes, because many dancers nowadays have a lot of lessons and they don't think for themselves, and it's a big problem. We had a situation that it wasn't possible t take so many lessons so we tried to achieve our goals another way. We tried to think more and to watch videos and to take information. So I would advise them to believe in what they do, and to know how to do that.
[Tereza] You should try to be a creator.
[Slavik] Yes. Because we create our life and it depends on what we do. Many people, when I said that I wanted to win Blackpool, said that it's impossible, that you have to live in England, you have to spend more than 5,000 for example. And I said, no, I will do it! [laughter]
And when you won Blackpool, came back home, was there any special party for you in the club?
They didn't organise anything?
[Tereza] Unfortunately no. Our parents were met for us at the airport and it was all. The flowers of course, really kind but it was all.
[Slavik] Yes, but we had a party with the family, with our friends but not in the club.
[Tereza] Just dinner.
Maybe people were jealous a bit?
[Slavik] Yes, of course. Nobody couldn't understand how we did it. Because many people thought that we disappeared and we were training somewhere, hiding. For example when I'm doing something and we miss 3-5 days everybody think that we are in UK and taking lessons. But we my be just working hard on something else.
It's a very good excuse for many people. Always blame someone else, not yourself.
[Tereza] Of course.
Unfortunately it's not only with dancing. It's with anything else as well.
[Slavik] I remember it gave us a lot of pleasure to hear so many good words from our competitors yesterday, from dancers. So it's very important to me they like our dancing. That they respect us
[Tereza] We wouldn't want everyone to talk what was that disgusting dancing...
[Slavik] It's not winning for me which is the most important, but if you win and everybody say that you are a leader that's what I want very much!
[Tereza] So the opinion of the spectators is also very important. I think that the main thing.
[Slavik] Many people supported us while we were dancing and also judges... it was it was pleasure to see how they reacted to our dancing.
Thank you for the very interesting conversation!