Interview with Artur Tarnavskiy and Anastasiya Danilova
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Interview with Artur Tarnavskiy and Anastasiya Danilova

Posted on Saturday, 19 Oct 2019, 13:42 by admin
Read: 15,800

We have interviewed the winners of the Professional Rising Star Latin Blackpool 2019, Artur Tarnavskiy and Anastasiya Danilova, who represent USA.

I leave the results up to the judges, I am there for the performance and for the audience

Let's start with congratulations! Fantastic dancing and fantastic results

[Anastasiya]: Thank you

Can you tell us your story, how did you start dancing?

[Artur]: I am originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine. I started when I was four years old. My Mum was a dancer so she brought me to the same studio where she was dancing. That's how it started, and I fall in love with it. I was actually doing a lot of sports as a kid, from football/soccer to biking, karate, gymnastics... But I somehow always kept coming back to dancing. Dancing I loved more than the rest.

When did you start to compete?

[Artur]: Almost right away. As I said my mother danced, and her teacher found me a partner pretty soon. So few months later I was at my first competition and I got the first place. I was very upset because they were calling me last as they started from the sixths place (laughing). I could not understand why everybody got their prizes and toys and I didn't. Only later my Mum explained that I won the first place. I did not believe her until she said, look, you got the biggest toy out of everyone (laughing). That was a good proof for me! Anyway, I kept dancing but I quit several times for a short time because of various circumstances. For instance, I was in the army at some point, definitely could not dance at that point (laughing).

[Anastasiya]: You moved to UK as well and he was with a different partner. He was in the UK Open final, in Rising Stars.

[Artur]: Second, always second

That's why we never interviewed you because you were always second (laughing)

[Artur]: Yes! It was always very close.

Did you join the army voluntarily?

[Artur]: No, I had to because I did not do any of it earlier. Normally you can do it while you study at school, but because of dancing I was travelling so much I was on this, like, home study. So when you are on the home study, you have to go. For one year. When I came back I trained for a month really hard. It was the end of November, so we had a December to practise and my partner got injured just before the UK Open. We still went and got the second place (laughing). One month was enough because I visualised it all in my head, I kept preparing mentally, I thought a lot about how I am going to do it during that year in the army. So for that remaining month all I had to do it execute it.

What about you, Anastasiya?

[Anastasiya]: I am also from Kharkiv originally. We are from the same city but we didn't know each other there.

[Artur]: Never spoke to each other

[Anastasiya]: We were competing against each other where we were in Ukraine. When I was in school, our teacher organised some dancing classes and I started going there. The teacher said I was really good and I should go for it, and join the proper dance classes. So I joined the group classes, and then I got a partner and we started competing. I was around seven years old at the time. Ten years ago I moved to United States with my partner from Ukraine. Before that we won the International, Under 21 Latin. We moved to US, then we split and I had a number of partners. And about four, five years ago we started dancing together with Artur.

How did you meet?

[Anastasiya]: In Brooklyn DanceSport Club

[Artur]: We were in the same studio but danced with different partners. I danced with Gabi, she danced with Pasha. But Pasha and Gabi were dating.

[Anastasiya]: When we were Amateurs we competed against each other, but our partners were dating so...

[Artur]: It was an unhealthy situation.

[Anastasiya]: So we swapped partners (laughing). Then we turned Pro.

And you started dating as well?

[Anastasiya]: Yes

[Artur]: We started as dance partners, then we dated and then we married. So we started as dancers, but fell in love later.

[Anastasiya]: A little bit later

[Artur]: It happened quite fast though.

What did you like in your partner the most when you first started?

[Artur]: Definitely I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world! But, secondly, I had a long dance career behind me and I always felt I was dancing by myself. With a partner, but somehow I was always trying to put this spotlight on myself. When we started dancing together, I found pleasure in this special connection, the partnering, the leading and following. So Anastasiya was very pleasant to dance with. She follows, she listens, as a dancer she is perfect. I suddenly found out that I like dancing with her not by myself. There was this special chemistry between us. I felt very strongly that I can trust her and let her be the star. And I can be the support.

[Anastasiya]: He was really popular in Ukraine, he was a star when I was competing there. Everybody knew him, so I knew the name. He's got this very unique style, very different to everybody so...

In what sense different?

[Anastasiya]: He's got this flexibility in his body, he moves in a unique way. I did not realise it right away but when we turned Pro I felt that people will start to notice that, people will see his style which is very clear and one of a kind. As a dancer, this was what I first liked about him. And as a husband he is perfect (laughing).

I love perfect couples (laughing)! OK, there must be something not quite so perfect with him, there always is

[Anastasiya]: I don't know. Really. Whenever things go wrong, and sometimes they do, he always manages somehow to deal with it. No negatives.

[Artur]: I think sometimes she is too kind for this world. Sometimes you got to be a bit tougher.

[Anastasiya]: I think you are too kind to people (laughing)

So you both think that the other one is too kind???

[Artur]: Yes. That's true.

Who is driving a car?

[Anastasiya]: Both

Who is cooking?

[Anastasiya]: Both

So you share everything equally?

[Artur]: We try to help each other rather than say, you do this and you do that. We are both tired, we both work, we both compete. We do everything in sync. We work the same amount of time...

[Anastasiya]: When one is cooking, the other one is washing the dishes.

[Artur]: We try to help each other in any way we can.

What do you cook for each other, what do you like to eat?

[Artur]: I have this special pork shoulder recipe. I roast it for 12 hours until it is soft inside and the skin is crispy. I am like that, I cook meat. She makes salads, soups, borscht, green stuff. I use a lot of oven for cooking meat (laughing).

Do you like traditional Ukrainian foods?

[Anastasiya]: We like Ukrainian food, we like borscht or pielmieni, all that is good stuff (laughing). We like salads with mayonnaise.... And we live in Brooklyn so there are a lot of Russian restaurants there

[Artur]: It feels like we never left Ukraine. You go to the restaurant and you get the same menu as at home (laughing)

[Anastasiya]: When we don't cook and we like to go somewhere, we go to the Russian restaurant. We really like it.

Ukrainian food is not very spicy but do you like spicy foods like Indian, Thai?

[Anastasiya]: No, not really, we don't like that sort of stuff as much.

[Artur]: We like fatty foods, fried...

Very unhealthy?

[Anastasiya]: Yeah (laughing). We actually eat burgers before every competition.

[Artur]: We go to the restaurant and we order only burger

How do you manage to stay so slim and fit?

[Artur]: We dance many rounds, it burns very quickly (laughing)

How do you prepare for a competition?

[Artur]: We actually compete every weekend in USA. Sometimes we take a break after four, five competitions in a row. It is good to take a weekend off. But sometimes, when we are at home, it feels weird, we don't know what to do at the weekend. Because we usually have a competition on Saturday and Sunday.

[Anastasiya]: I feel that this is how we practise for the competition. We stay fit by dancing competitions.

[Artur]: We do rounds at our studio every Tuesday and Thursday. We have a lot of good couples. We work for our coaches.

Are you able to both teaching and competing?

[Anastasiya]: We manage to do both. We teach a lot of Pro-Ams and kids, in Brooklyn and in other states as well.

[Artur]: We work all over the country, Chicago, Connecticut, Boston.

It is big country, how do you do it?

[Artur]: Oh yes, it is huge. But it is doable, you travel for work. From Brooklyn to Chicago is 2 hours flight. When I am on the plane, I am at work, it feels the same as I would have to be on a bus for 2 hours.

[Anastasiya]: We work the whole day. Pro-Ams, kids, evening sessions.

[Artur]: Then at night we practise and we finish around 9 or 10.

My next question would have been what do you do apart from dancing, but it seems that you do only dancing!

[Anastasiya]: Because there is no time. He used to do boxing (laughing)

[Artur]: Yes, I am like this. As I said when I was younger I did a lot of sports.

But boxing is so different to dancing!

[Artur]: It is very similar. The way you move, the way you coordinate your body, the footwork...

[Anastasiya]: But not any more

[Artur]: No, not any more because there are so many injuries. We had nationals in Utah. I broke my rib and it was hard to breathe. Going to the mountains and having to dance with a broken rib was really hard.

And how did you do?

[Artur]: We got to the finals, it was not a bad result. Half a year later we turned Professional and had the nationals again, and I spared, and broke my rib on the other side again.

[Anastasiya]: One year he danced with broken finger.

[Artur]: I was punching and my glove split, I hit the teeth and my bone went inside...

[Anastasiya]: He has just put a tape around it, and we danced the competition. They had to put a cast on it, but only after we danced

[Artur]: I did not know first it was broken. It was a nice weather and we went to the beach. I put some ice on my hand and only when we came back to the hotel I noticed it was really bad. So we put clear plastic wrap all around my hand because we had to dance the next day (laughing).

[Anastasiya]: The competition was next morning around 10. And nobody noticed, we did really well. Only after we danced he had a cast put on.

[Artur]: After that competition we were going straight to Ukraine. I have not been home for like four years. So when we landed I took the cast off so my Mum wouldn't be horrified! Later I went to hospital to have it fixed and they said it is too late, your bone already fused the wrong way (laughing).

Wow, this is something I have not heard before (laughing). Coming back to dancing, which particular steps, movements, figures you say characterise each dance best?

[Artur]: If it comes to Cha Cha: Cuban Breaks and New Yorkers. And that's why they are in our routines.

Come on, they are in everybody's routine!

[Artur]: Not they way we do it (laughing). We have a special way. Our Cuban Breaks is one of a kind.

[Anastasiya]: In Samba it is Bachucadas.

[Artur]: In Rumba I'd say it is basic steps into the Fan.

[Anastasiya]: I agree

Do you agree in everything?

[Anastasiya]: Yes

[Artur]: We are like twins.

One mind, two bodies

[Artur]: Paso Doble - Twist Turns.

[Anastasiya]: Or Promenades.

[Artur]: Jive - Kicks

What do you find the most challenging during the competition?

[Anastasiya]: To stay in your zone. To stay focused, on track, without anybody disturbing it.

When you dance, do you noticed any other competitors around you?

[Anastasiya]: I do

[Artur]: I am trying not to. For me, if I am not paying attention to us, it is bad. If I look at the other couples I start analysing them, thinking of them rather than stay focused on us.

[Anastasiya]: I feel opposite actually. I need to see people. Yesterday, I was actually walking round the ballroom watching everybody. Just walking back and forth. I puts me in a right zone, I don't like sitting in one place.

[Artur]: For me it is opposite. I hide in the corner, I don't want to see anybody and I don't want anybody to see me.

What are your favourite competitions?

[Artur]: Blackpool, UK Open

[Anastasiya]: The International. We like it here a lot, in England. It is far away but we really love it. We come every year. Competitions in America feel more like at home, here is something special.

[Artur]: It is something different. You get goosebumps... Walking around, seeing all the dancers, it gives me so much adrenaline. I am coming here since I was seven years old, but I never danced here in Amateur. I was dancing here in Youth and then Professional.

But you danced in Amateur?

[Artur]: Yes, but in America. I moved to US when I was twenty one. We danced for a year or two and turned Professional.

What is the difference for you between Professional and Amateur?

[Artur]: I like to work in the final destination, you know. I feel like dancing in Amateur is a process of getting somewhere, becoming a Professional. So I wanted to be right away Professional. I felt like it. Because I realised, when I was doing my US visa papers, that your achievements as Amateur do not really sound serious. It is like a hobby.

[Anastasiya]: Like a beginner

[Artur]: I couldn't explain how big the Amateur field is, for instance in Blackpool.

[Anastasiya]: Professional sounds serious

Do you find dancing style different?

[Artur]: Definitely. In Professional you have to have such a clear vision of your product, and deliver it very very clearly because everybody else has a vision and understanding of their own style

[Anastasiya]: Yes, understanding what you style is, how you want to look like, is very important. In Amateurs you have time to figure it out.

[Artur]: I feel I figured it out early. I knew how I wanted to dance, I knew how I wanted to look like. I feel that when you are in Amateur you are still looking for it.

What kind of music do you like for dancing?

[Anastasiya]: We really like Blackpool music for a dancing

[Artur]: We practise to all sorts of music, to pop songs

[Anastasiya]: To Russian songs

[Artur]: Sometimes when I'm driving a car and I am listening to some music, I can hear something and it could be used for Rumba.

Do you prefer vocal, or just music?

[Artur]: Depends. In the studio, at practice, vocal is OK. But at the competition you want a clear beat.

[Anastasiya]: Yesterday we had crazy music, first time ever for us. It was cool.

So at the competition you prefer some more traditional music?

[Anastasiya]: Yes. Pop music is good for practice, you can dance anything to the regular music as long as it has a beat.

How do you use internet?

[Artur]: I feel like I started using internet only recently (laughing). I never was into Facebook, or Instagram.... But I feel that now, these days, social media is important and the future. it is how you promote yourself. This is the way it works

[Anastasiya]: We like YouTube. I follow Instagram, Facebook.

Who buys tickets and sorts out travel, presumably on the internet?

[Anastasiya]: I do that all the time. I buy tickets, I book hotels. We compete every single weekend so I have to buy tickets, like, non-stop! Sometimes we rent a car. We use internet a lot.

Do you ever use the travel agent?

[Anastasiya]: No. I phone companies like Delta because we fly with them all the time. I have lots of air miles.

So do you get free upgrades, to the first class?

[Anastasiya]: Not here, no (laughing)

[Artur]: But we have a free lounge, which is good.

What other websites do you visit?

[Anastasiya]: Dancesportinfo

THank you! But what other dancing site?

[Artur]: Dancesportinfo is a website from my childhood (laughing). I don't know any others.

[Anastasiya]: We don't really use any others. In America, Dancebeat is very popular. They do a lot of pictures, they take them at every competition and they post results...

What can we improve?

[Artur]: To show more reports from competitions, more about dancers' lives. Your website is very official. It reports facts. But there is no social side...

What would you change in dancing f you had such power?

[Artur]: Before Blackpool we actually danced, performed in Queens College in a theatre, in front of the 2,000 kids, age seven to nice. Very young kids. And there was something there I never experienced before. the energy those kids were giving us... they were such an appreciable audience. They were singing the songs we were dancing to. it felt like dancing to the live music. it was crazy, insane (laughing). They dont get tired, so we had like a Broadway show.

[Anastasiya]: These kids, the audience, their reaction was very live. They were singing, clapping, standing up.

[Artur]: It gives you a huge energy rush. You do it trillion times better when you have that kind of feedback. It would be perhaps a good idea to give the front row to the kids so they can react like this. You know, maybe support schools like that, like art classes.

[Anastasiya]: And they are the future, you know.

[Artur]: And they can get involved, they can see the real dancing. The lot of students that we teach never seen us dancing. Because they come in the morning, we dance on the different days or at night. So they don't really see professional dancers... And after that show there were so many people who came to us and now want to dance, to be able to do it like us. We also had our student kids, doing little performance with us... So I think it would be good for the dancing business to invite kids to the competitions. Sometimes you are dancing and there is no feedback. You ripping yourselves to pieces and people just sit there... It destroys you as a dancer. I am a performer, I need a feedback. I am working for the audience, I want to wow people.

So you prefer the first row of kids who are spontaneous, rather than distinguished professionals who are just watching?

[Artur]: Yes.

I noticed that Artur talks so much more than you Anastasiya....

[Anastasiya]: Actually it is normally the opposite. I think this time he is finally expressing himself and that's why I am listening a lot (laughing)

Artur has mentioned before that he is a performer. Is this the same about you Anastasiya?

[Anastasiya]: No, I am more of a competitor.

[Artur]: She likes the sport part. She needs results.

My nect question was supposed to be whether you prefer competitions or shows... I guess you would give different answers

[Artur]: Yes, I prefer shows and she prefers competitions

[Anastasiya]: Exactly

[Artur]: But I treat a competition as a show. For me, it is like a show. I leave the results up to the judges, I am there for the performance and for the audience. I will not try to please the judges... Of course, it is good when they like me. But I am there for the people. That's why when there is no feedback it is a nightmare for me.

Would you give audience a chance to vote? And if so, which vote would you prefer: judges or people?

[Artur]: You know, it is still a sport. As a dancer you worked for years and you are trying to show the quality. So it has to be specific people who can appreciate it, professionals, to be able to judge that.

How do you think we could make dancing more popular?

[Artur]: For one, it is expensive sport. It is hard to make it accessible for all. They cannot just buy a pair of shoes, pay a monthly fee and get on with it like with boxing. So I think we must involve kids early, show them how beautiful dancing world is, how many beautiful girls and handsome boys are involved, how cool it is.

I know what you mean, dance world is glamorous

[Artur]: But it is also a community, a big family. Once a dancer, always a dancer. It is a skill which you can use around the world. it is a beautiful thing to have.

[Anastasiya]: We are travelling all the time. We see a lot of things, a lot of places.

Do you actually have a time to see places when you go for a competition?

[Artur]: Sometimes yes, we try to stay for a day or two. Not always possible.

What was the most interesting place you went to?

[Artur]: I think Hawaii.... it was beautiful

A competition?

[Artur]: Yes, it was

[Anastasiya]: We stayed for few days before and after the competition.

[Artur]: We went hiking in these beautiful mountains. We were to dance in the evening, and I went for a 10 mile trek. By the time I was back and started to prepare my legs were shaking (laughing).

What was the best competition?

[Artur]: Blackpool

[Anastasiya]: I think Blackpool is the most special

I've heard Kremlin Cup is beautiful

[Anastasiya]: We've never been. It is actually quite hard and expensive for us to come to Europe. So we decided we dance the UK Open, the International and Blackpool in England and the rest of the competitions we do are in America.

What are your plans for the nearest future?

[Artur]: The semi-finals on Thursday

Life plans?

[Anastasiya]: Keep going, keep growing. Make sure we keep up with what we planned for ourselves.

Any plans for having your own kids?

[Artur]: Yes, we want kids.

[Anastasiya]: He wants to stop dancing to have kids and then continue. I would stop dancing after having kids... I think. I think this is what most of the dancers do.

[Artur]: I think I can continue (laughing).

Are your families in Ukraine?

[Anastasiya]: Yes, in Kyiv and Kharkiv. However, my Dad is in America.

Do you feel more Ukrainian or more American?

[Anastasiya]: I think our mentality changed. People are different, react in a different way. I feel I have changed. Americans, I feel, are less judgemental or at least they don't show it. People always smile, they are always polite. In Ukraine, if they don't like you, you will know (laughing).

How difficult was for you to emigrate to USA?

[Anastasiya]: Very difficult for him. It was easier for me. My Dad was already living in the US for a long time.

Did you have to get a visa?

[Anastasiya]: I was still a teenager, and my Dad was already there. He had a citizenship so I got a green card and a citizenship when I moved. I did not need any visa.

[Artur]: I had to wait long. But I feel that it made me feel stronger about my choices. Some friends of mine waited for six months, but it took seven years for me. A little longer (laughing)

Let me wish you all the best. And thank you for talking to us.