Interview with Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova

Interview with Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova

Posted on Saturday, 06 Feb 2010, 00:15 by jazz
Read: 43,131

We met Arunas and Katusha the day after they won the Professional Ballroom competition at the UK Open 2010 in Bournemouth, England. It was a delightful interview which began with a great deal of laughter. They are the reigning US Professional Standard champions and World champions. See their results page and photos in our galleries.

We had a dream come true and so can you

May we begin by congratulating you on yesterday's achievement? And then start with your life history and how you began dancing.

[Katusha] I started dancing when I was 7 and actually I did figure skating at same time but, well, I guess I liked the dancing more.

Where was that?

[Katusha] in Russia, Moscow. I guess, when I was 13, both the dancing and the figure skating were pretty equal for me and it was very serious. Of course it was impossible to keep up with both at the same level and so I picked the dancing. Actually I turned Professional, I do not know if it was legal even, at 15 and at 15 I danced my first Professional competition in Israel. At 16 I moved to America because I did not have a partner at the time and America looked a very good opportunity and as you know I found and started dancing with Jonathan (Wilkins) and we did good from there.

[Arunas] I started dancing at aged 7 and primarily it was my Mum's idea to take me to dancing and at first I did not like it. But it was fun because a lot of my class mates were there. I stayed and eventually I became very keen and began to like it more and more. I played sports at the same time, swimming, basketball, little bit of football a lot of things but eventually I stayed with dancing only. I had a successful career with my previous partner Edita (Daniute) and we won everything in the Amateurs but because of the circumstances the partnership eventually ended. Edita had a baby and I thought it would be very difficult for me to wait until we were back in shape together and so we split and I began dancing with Katusha. That was less than two and a half years ago and it is going really well.

[Katusha] Yes

How did you start dancing with each other?

[Katusha] Well you know the dancing world is very small. I cannot say we were both looking for another partner but you know there are opportunities.

[Arunas] Well, I sent an e-mail to Katusha so let's say I made the first move.

[Katusha] Yes, that is true (laughter)

[Arunas] We took it from there.

[Katusha] The e-mail was very short

[Arunas] Yes. Very short

[Katusha] Probably the shortest e-mail I ever received

[Arunas] Only one sentence if I remember correctly. Basically "Are you interested?" and the replay was "Yes, why not".

[Katusha] Maybe the existing situation you cannot say was bad or unhappy or indifferent but it just happened

When you tried out did you feel and instant connection or did you need to think about it?

[Arunas] I would say we did not feel an instant connection, probably just the opposite

[Katusha] (as the laughter begins again) That puts it lightly.

[Arunas] (laughter) It seemed the best choice

[Katusha] Like our brains told us "that should work"

[Arunas] Our brain told us it should work but I cannot say we just thought

[Katusha] (more serious now) I guess we both had the same partner for a very long time so to switch to someone new was a shock and I think we both went through that shock. The look and everything did not really match the feeling in the beginning. But when you have been dancing with someone for so long it is difficult.

Which in your opinion is your best result, best achievement, and best day in dancing?

[Arunas] That is difficult. I think our debut at the UK in 2008 was most surprising for everyone including ourselves. We had just got together and we did not have much expectation, we just wanted to dance as good as possible and then we got that result and we were 2nd. Which I think was a shock.

[Katusha] We did not expect that and maybe it is not our highest achievement considering we now hold the World Championship but considering we did not know what to expect and we danced that competition from round to round not knowing how we were doing. It was a stress but a different type of stress. The feeling is hard to explain. I remember when they were reading the results (laughing) that were probably the most horrifying 20 seconds of my entire life. Remember the compere made the mistake with the results and when they corrected the result I realised and I remember I said "Arunas we are 2nd".

[Arunas] (to laughter) She said to me "Arunas we are 2nd" and I said "No that cannot be".

[Katusha] I said "There is no one else left so it is us". He was saying "No!" and I was saying "what do you mean: No?".

[Arunas] That will stay in our memory for as long as we live, the excitement of that result.

[Katusha] Of course the World Championship, the International. It is very hard to put a value on each

[Arunas] They are all very valuable.

[Katusha] Valuable and emotional, but that debut was special because we did not know what to expect. It was not like we thought we had a chance of winning or maybe you do not have a chance. We did not know if we had a chance and it was possible we would not make the final.

[Arunas] We were prepared for that – to not make the final.

Of course your private feelings of the event are completely different from the one when you are expected to win. You were expected to win the World Championship really

[Arunas] In a way, yes, because of the situation we were expected to win.

[Katusha] We were prepared. We treat every comp differently.

[Arunas] History shows there are many cases where people expected to win but they did not. We know every event is still a competition and you cannot take it for granted and say "Yes, I am going to win". Anything can happen and you should always put your performance in dancing first and then if you do that you will get what you expect to get.

What is the most important thing for you in dancing. What first comes to your mind when you think dancing. Money? Fame?

[Arunas] I would not say so. I think dancing is in the society where it is not the biggest money if you take sports it is the not greatest game if you take some other things but at the same time there is an element of it...

[Katusha] There is an element of it.

[Arunas] Which makes it very attractive. Our dancing world is small but wonderful, it is good to be in the dancing world. At least we feel that way. It is everything, it is our life. It's people that we can communicate with, that we can socialise with, the activity itself, the glamour of it.

[Katusha] I think dancing is a life style everybody that is dancing seriously, how do you explain that. It's very hard.

[Arunas] It cannot be one aspect which makes you do it and keeps you in that area of activity. It is the whole package and I like everything about it.

[Katusha] I think it is the process of people trying to get the result. It is the whole thing and you learn

Can you try to describe what you think is your strongest point as a dancer?

[Katusha] You mean as a dancer or as a couple?

[Arunas] Individually?


[Katusha] Well I think I am no good. (Outburst of laughter)

[Arunas] Thats not true, she is not telling the truth she thinks the opposite, she thinks she is the best, and quite rightly so. (More laughter) Ummm ... You have no faults (looking at Katusha)

[Katusha] mmmmm!

[Arunas] I will say what I think my strength is first of all. It is stubbornness, which can be negative sometimes and you will say that you have to deal with it sometimes which is not the most positive thing but on the other hand it keeps me determined, determined to achieve what I wish to achieve so it can be a kind of strength.

[Katusha] With me it is the same. My strength is persistence, I am a Capricorn so it's like "Sorry I cannot do anything about it".

So it must be your birthday soon, Katusha?

[Katusha] My birthday was 2 weeks ago and Arunas's is next week but he is not Capricorn (laughing). He did not make Capricorn Club.

[Arunas] (laughing) Actually I don't really care. I am Aquarius but I don't care.

[Katusha] I remember from a very young age with the figure skating if I decide to do something I need to know I did everything I could to achieve that goal. It's OK, if the result does not happen, that's not up to me but I need to know inside I practised enough, the dress, everything had to be right.

When the question of strengths came you asked the question "Individually or a Couple" so what would you say are your strengths as a couple.

[Arunas] I think as a couple that we get along. We can work very well together. That's our strength.

[Katusha] We seem to get along very well. Everyone has an off day but we seem we can motivate each other, you know, you can push somebody's buttons and we seem to push the buttons the right way it's very motivating. We can spend hours in the studio if we need to we can get stuff done in 10 minutes if we need to. Actually we work outside very well under pressure it is motivating.

[Arunas] Yes, it is always very constructive. That is our strength as a couple.

Are you a couple in private life?

[Arunas] No

[Katusha] That's why – I think that why we are so good together (general and continual laughter).

You travel the world so much where do you spend most time, where is home?

[Arunas] Home is US

[Katusha] (laughing) I am joking but home is where the mail comes to. Seriously we are dancing for America so home is US. New Jersey. Probably we spend a lot of time ...

[Arunas] (breaking in) Actually I counted and last year we spent more time in England, a lot of time in England, and a lot of time in Asian countries Japan especially. We are travelling almost all the time

[Katusha] Yes home is there US

[Arunas] It's a base but we are travelling like most top dancers that's what we do and I must say we both enjoy it a lot.

Have you any advice to give to Amateur dancers who want to move to the Professionals? Is there any difference? Katusha, you were dancing almost all your life in Professionals.

[Arunas] I think when the time is right it is a very good continuation of your career. I think it is no good if you wanted to skip Amateur career. Amateur career is also very valuable and I would not suggest people turn Professional without dancing the Amateurs. Experiencing Amateurs and Professionals makes you more complete as a dancer. It is different levels the different aspects. As a Professional I get much more show work than I used to get as Amateur although that was changing in our generation especially amateurs starting to do more demonstrations and obviously most Amateurs taught so there was little difference in life style.

[Katusha] It is more condensed

[Arunas] I think our schedule now as Professional is more intense with all the shows compared to my Amateur days

Do you find any difference in the style you are dancing?

[Arunas] I think values are still the same

[Katusha] I think it is being (more) creative when you turn Professional

[Arunas] When I think about Amateur and now Professionals I can see that we have now just become more confident. I have always tried to produce what I am producing now it is just I am better.

[Katusha] It is a great understanding

[Arunas] Yes it's a great understanding, the knowledge is deeper, experience is greater, therefore the results are better the product we create but I would not say the priorities changed. The priorities are the same as when I was Amateur.

How important is technique in dancing?

[Arunas] I think it is the Key. Without technique I don't think you have the possibility to produce great performances and technique allows you to produce it, especially to produce it more consistently. It is very important.

Do you have a favourite dance?

[Katusha] It depends on the practise

[Arunas] Yes it depends on the day, on the practise, and (laughing) the time of the year on the music. It changes really.

[Katusha] It depends on which dance we are working on and when we feel the improvement it indirectly becomes a favourite but just for a little while because then we are working on something else so we don't necessarily feel that we have a favourite dance (looking towards Arunas).

[Arunas] I would not say so.

If you were dancing Latin which dance would be your favourite dance?

[Katusha] (to an outbreak of hilarity) Oh, well we did Blackpool!

[Arunas] (more laughter) Cha Cha was my favourite then.

[Katusha] I love Latin music so I don't know which dance would be my favourite (pause) I like Samba.

[Arunas] I like all of them they are different it is difficult to distinguish. Maybe least favourite would be jive but I am not sure. Every dance you do you do as good as you can and one might just be going better.

[Katusha] In a way I like it that we don't have a best dance, a favourite dance, we work equally on all of them so in a way that is a strength because our job is to be the best we can in all 5 so we cannot prioritise.

Which gives you the greatest satisfaction when you are winning or when your students are winning?

[Katusha] Actually both!

[Arunas] (almost at the same time) Both. You get excited and rewarded as much as when you perform as when your students are dancing and you care. You worry you feel sad or happy for them. It is interesting.

[Katusha] I think once they are out there is nothing you can do about it and that's the feeling you are not in control because you cannot control their performance.

You like to be in control?

[Arunas] She is a bit like that she likes to be in control!

Well, she is a woman!

[Katusha] Let me tell you when I am dancing then I am in control of my own dance performance. (continued laughter) So at least that part makes me feel safe but when they are out there doing whatever that makes me nervous.

In old times generally in Ballroom the gentleman was in control that is changing...

[Arunas] Women are taking over in the world. So many Presidents (much laughter) and Prime Ministers are women. Men are losing to them I don't know for the better or the worse.

[Katusha] (to continued general laughter) Thats so not true. Look to me you are not losing anything.

[Arunas] I am standing for the male in dancing.

[Katusha] Looks can be deceiving he looks so nice and gentle. (Still laughing)No. No.

[Katusha] Do you know to this point we have never had a fight. We have discussions and ...

[Arunas] ...disagreements, but it never gets to a fight

[Katusha] I dont know the description for "fight". But we have never gone to the point where ...

[Arunas] ...fight would be when it becomes offensive but we never get to that point.

[Katusha] The worst thing is when we both stick to our opinion

[Arunas] And we leave it. We don't talk about it anymore. It has happened and quite a few times

These disagreements are they strictly about dancing or where you will go, competitions, etc?

[Arunas] Dance. No actually where to go we are pretty good on things like that. It's about basic issues in life like position of man and woman (Big outbreak of laughter). How society should do it. It's good we are not together because we disagree on that big time.

[Katusha] You see this way we just both leave it alone. It's just general sometimes in dancing sometimes in practise. We are 2human beings. We are both very artistic. Artistry is such a thing and it's very individual.

[Arunas] It is not about right and wrong. It's about expression. Sometimes she wants to express it one way and I like to express the other way. There is a lot of room for that; you cannot say there is there is just one way.

[Katusha] So we negotiate. You have to be creative at this point time.

[Arunas] You are very patient and you always get your way (laughter)

[Katusha] That is my secret

[Arunas] Actually that is your strength, your patience is your strength.

[Katusha] I don't rush into things (laughing) I think OK even if it takes 3 weeks I will get it.

So at least she is honest?

[Arunas] I know that.

So we asked about your strongest point can you tell me please what would you say is your partners weakness?

[Arunas] She has no faults. She has no weaknesses. (laughter)

I find it kind of hard to believe

[Katusha] I can tell you my weakness

[Arunas] OK you go first and I will think of something

[Katusha] I can definitely. If somebody will let me, I can over practise. If I feel under pressure or stressed or anything then I will dance and dance and dance and it gets to the point it's too much. You lose the feeling it's just not good, practise needs to be productive but you don't have to be in studio 12 hours a day. It does not work. I understand now that now but that was a weakness. I would not know when to stop.

Well that's your weakest point but you were supposed to tell me about his weakest point!

[Katusha] His strongest point and weakest point is the same. Stubbornness. (Arunas laughs) To change Arunas mind ...

[Arunas] Yes that's true once my I set my mind it is difficult to change it. But (with a smile ending in laughter) I am not wrong so many times

[Katusha] After we won the World Championship I said "Its interesting you know when we were practising you were so much more open minded. Before it was all No, No."

[Arunas] I said the definition of "open minded" for Katusha is listening to her. (Laughter) Just because I am relaxed she says "wow, you are so open minded".

[Katusha] He said "Just because I am listening to you all of a sudden I am more open minded"!

Last night there was a peculiar situation. Did you approach the competition in a different way or did you say it's a competition and all we can do is go out and dance?

[Arunas] You know sometimes there are things beyond your control. So although we are aware of the challenges, we cannot control what the other people are going to do so we knew we had to do our best and prepare as much as we could and that is what we did. I would not say that things were unexpected to us. We knew that the challenges were going to be great from new couples especially one new couple. I think we did what we could do and cared about ourselves.

[Katusha] I think a lot of things we can't control, a lot of outside forces there is nothing we can do about. Our partnership was very successful from the moment it began so we did a lot of things right, we found the right balance lessons, practise, resting, everything so there was no point changing anything because we felt that whatever we created was working very well for us so maybe because of a different situation I think that is where we went right. First of all you don't know exactly what is going to happen you cannot predict anything and for us to do something different maybe wouldn't work for us so we stuck to our plan, the one we had the beginning of our first year.

[Arunas] We cannot say we don't try to change things but we feel the things we try change are because we can do so much better. We are always very critical after every performance. I would say there are more things with which we are disappointed than happy and satisfied. Last night was no exception. We felt many occasions when we are practising we produce better dancing than we produced on the night and of course it makes us realise how much we can do in our practise and in our learning and improving so that in the future we can produce better performances.

[Katusha] Inside we feel some practices potentially are great and we want to go out and produce it but time is everything and you need time to do it so basically we stuck with what we had.

I think what impressed me most last night was that you never appeared to be under any sort of pressure. You were calm and never appeared to be trying

[Arunas] In a way that is the approach we chose. We tried not to put pressure on ourselves. Like the conversation we had the day before the competition. I said if we start putting more pressure on ourselves it would not help so we just tried to go to the comp with as little pressure as possible. I can't say we did not feel any pressure because of course there was pressure. People coming wishing us good luck, everyone is excited and talking about the new couples, new challenges this all puts pressure but we tried to stick to what we can do to produce the dancing.

[Katusha] That's how we practise. (laughter)

[Arunas] Actually that's your weakness

[Katusha] That's not a weakness (mock indignation). I always get my word in what's that weakness.

[Arunas] Well not a weakness but things we are very different. Sometimes in practise I get on one subject but Katusha spreads herself over many things.

[Katusha] Practical. It's called practical.

[Arunas] Katusha calls it practical I call it (pause) ... I call it trying to be on too many things at one time – spread.

[Katusha] To me what's the point of having best footwork if your frame is no good.

[Arunas] Consistent. Deep work on one subject till big improvement and then go on to work on something else.

[Katusha] Somewhere there you have a point.

[Arunas] Jumping there there and there. Actually it works for you I must say.

[Katusha] Last night we choose not to put the pressure on ourselves it was not because we did not have the fire. For us yesterday it was a great challenge and I can't say we were not looking forward to it. Definitely inside it was very exciting, I felt more excitement than stress and pressure.

Now you are the champions who will be challenged

[Arunas] That's true.

[Katusha] Will we put stress on ourselves? Time will tell how we handle.

[Arunas] When I look back there is always a challenge for everyone who is at the top. Everyone is there to try to win and you have to deal with it.

Are you going to do the Asian Tour?

[Katusha] Yes we are planning on that and hopefully everything comes into place.

Will you do the whole tour or just some events?

[Katusha] We will see we have not made decided the whole thing yet.

Then of course you will go to Blackpool?

[Both] YES. Blackpool is a big thing.

[Arunas] Blackpool is a big thing to which every dancer is preparing so much for.

Do you prepare for Blackpool differently or will it be the same as say it was last night?

[Arunas] No. Again it is the same thing. We do not think about changing something completely dancing values stay the same. There are things we change slightly like size of floor and we think about routines to fit that floor because we know exactly the size of the floor. Obviously it's longer than most other ballrooms we dance in so that is one aspect of it.

[Katusha] But that is pretty much every competition . It is one of the check points for every competition. What is the size of the floor, what is the music?

[Arunas] In a way Blackpool is a competition we know so well. We know very well the music, the orchestra, we have danced many times to it, although the orchestra produce new music but still there is a kind of style of the orchestra. We know very well the conditions. We have only been there twice, but before that with previous partners we danced so many years, so it's the competition we feel we are growing up with in a way. so it feels very ...

[Katusha] ... very much at home

[Arunas] Yes very homely. Some competitions on the Asian Tour we will get to the ballroom which we are seeing for only the first or second time in our lives. The floor may feel different, the music different so its new and we have to quickly change and adapt to that but in Blackpool we know a lot about the conditions and so we try to prepare a special performance.

[Katusha] But that's a secret. It's something new.

[Arunas] I think everyone is looking for special, inspiring performances to stay in the memory for a long time.

Do you go to Blackpool for the entire week?

[Arunas] Yes. We are there for the entire week.

[Katusha] We have to do the team match.

[Arunas] Yes Team Match is Saturday, Reception is Sunday then the lecture then there are Competitor Commission meetings, World Dance Council meetings. It's a busy week for Professionals. Last Year we started on Thursday. Then there was a Competitor Commission Fund Raising event so basically we started Thursday and I think we had only Wednesday and Thursday maybe were completely free. And all the other days we were busy with many things.

Blackpool is now 10/11 days long

[Arunas] Yes it is very long but it goes past very fast when you have things to do.

Wherever you go and particularly at somewhere like Blackpool you must find people always want to stop you to speak to you

[Arunas] Yes but I like that actually it makes you feel like a celebrity (Laughter)

Do you find today many people ask for your autograph?

[Arunas] Different places behave differently. Some countries you go and it's the fashion so you have so many kids, even Amateur couples sometimes Professional couples asking but in other countries like here in the UK not so much.

[Katusha] In some countries they like taking pictures.

[Arunas] Oh, yes, in some Asian Countries, pictures - we get that a lot.

You are now at the top of the world and you can influence others. If you could change something in the dancing say Rules & Regulations or in the judging, or anything else what would it be?

[Arunas] I think in everything in life there is a lot of place for improvement in dancing also so I would like to see in general dancing more quality from ourselves and from the others. Then if you take the Rules of course they can be better but basically we are not unhappy with the rules it is sometimes more how they are applied. It is funny just recently there was a meeting about the Showdance Rules and there were discussions to improve the Rules. There are so many rules in the Showdance.

[Katusha] That it is hard to know and do the Showdance.

[Arunas] Yes It makes it very hard to do the Showdance. So it would be very good to have simple and understandable rules for everyone but it is not so easy to do. A lot of people have worked on it and still it's not easy but I am sure that things can and will be improved.

[Katusha] I think we feel it is a great responsibility as a Champion because hopefully, hopefully people are looking up to us.

[Arunas] I think that is how it is Champions set certain examples which people tend to follow.

[Katusha] I feel pressure on that. In a way we have a responsibility. I don't know for making it right?

[Arunas] If you look at dancing is, it's about the movement to music, two people man and woman and the harmony between them and I think sometimes that is the area when I look at younger couples I think we are weak. We have great energy, the movement is very fast and full but the harmony between two people and the musicality can be improved. That's what I think when I watch the young couples.

[Katusha] Yes the next development must be the Musicality.

[Arunas] Over the recent years energy has improved a lot, movement in general, the technical side, the mechanics are very good. The general look, the outline, the couples are looking good with beautiful top lines, but sometimes it looks a bit separate from each other so greater harmony in the couple would be my priority.

Katusha, you as a former figure skater know how many problems we have with judging and how many different approaches and changes do you think that any one of them should be applied to dancing?

[Katusha] You know no system is perfect and we will never find a system which is perfect.. You know in competitions sometimes the system works for you and sometimes it works against you but I think at the end of the day the best one wins anyway.

[Arunas] I think at the moment the way it is the way most competitions are run when we have many couples on the floor the Skating System and marks 1 to 6 is probably the best. I am sceptical about this system which IDSF tried to introduce in Shanghai when they gave marks not from 1 to 6. Every couple danced separately so that makes it long. That changes ...

[Katusha] ... priorities...

[Arunas] It changes the thing as it is now because it is more difficult to compare the actual dancing, the quality of the dancing, the way the couples are moving, the togetherness, the musicality. I think it enhances them to search for more effect choreographically because they are on their own. And when you are on your own on the floor this changes the way you would dance if there were 6 couples on the floor. I think it is difficult to compare. Other factors come in to it and I am not sure if those markings really reflect the actual dancing.

[Katusha] It is like today before we came for this interview we were watching the Latin and today that's a great competition. There are so many new couples in it and they are all going for it. It is almost like when you have 2 good couples in the same heat they bring the best out of each other, so I think the couples are going to miss that competiveness because you are by yourself.

[Arunas] Of course it is only possible for the final. Early rounds you will always have to stay with many couples on the floor.

... 210 couples ...

[Arunas] It is impossible with so many. That is why I think the finals should stay as they are with all couples on the floor. Being compared. When all couples dance separately that changes many things.

If the new Rules applied from first round you did this for all rounds Blackpool would take about a year and a half

[Arunas] Oh my God! (more laughter).

[Katusha] Let's start now

For me in a way that was what made it special last night. We saw you dance, we saw Mirko dance, but it was only when you got to the semi-final that you and Mirko and Edita were on the floor at the same time.

[Arunas] yes we were together and ...

[Katusha] ... yes, that was for the first time. You could compare. In a way it was exciting.

[Arunas] It would be very difficult to compare otherwise

[Katusha] You would miss that.

We have seen before many times a couple come to the floor and you think they are pefect they are great and then a better couple comes to the floor and then you start seeing flaws in the first one. Because you see it by comparison

[Arunas] That's very true

Do you think dancing will make the Olympics? Do you think it should?

[Arunas] It does not seem very realistic to me. I am not so sure if it should

[Katusha] I am not so sure It's a grey area. It would be nice to have the recognition.

[Arunas] There would be some benefit because Olympics is such a big event.

How many times have you watched synchronised swimming during Olympics?

[Arunas] (laughter) I don't watch that actually but what it could do in certain countries Olympic athletes get sponsored by the Government that could bring more finance but even then I am not so sure some Olympic sports are not doing so well and especially amongst some countries. It is very different from country to country but I am sure that some beneficial points could be found. At the same time there are people who believe and I am sure their points are very valid that dancing can be developed into a very standardised sport, the marking system would change, it would become less artistic, less exciting, less expressive so you have different points of view but I think dancing is very good on its own the way it is. I think all of us in dancing world should try to find the capacity to present to the outside world as much as possible to get as much exposure as possible. The greater the popularity the better for everyone. We can see that in the society it is possible and with the programmes like Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars in USA. You can see the popularity of our activity.

[Katusha] You can see now "It's Cool". It's cool among the young kids, it's cool for adults.

[Arunas] It's cool amongst men and woman it's not just something old ladies are interested in. You know if you find the right way to present it it can be very successful and bring even more popularity to our business. So going back to the Olympics it is not definite that the Olympics would be most beneficial. And we can see with programs like Strictly Come Dancing we can get a lot. I think maybe we don't get all the benefits in the Professional Dancing World immediately, but eventually it is going to be very beneficial.

Arunas - have you taken American Citizenship?

[Arunas] No not yet, Katusha has American Citizenship.

So that would immediately exclude you from the Olympics. would you take American Citizenship just to be able to dance?

[Katusha] America, you know, it's the country of great opportunity and if the Olympics were recognised. (Looking to Arunas) was it last year the figure skaters were given citizenship.

[Arunas] Yes the figure skaters get the Citizensip. America is pretty good in that type of thing. They are flexible

[Katusha] They are flexible and will make an exception but there is not a lot to talk about it as it is up in the air.

Maybe in 2096!

[Arunas] We will still be talking about it.

[Katusha] I remember when I was about 8 or 9 I was still Junior they were talking about it.

[Arunas] By then we will not be around. Before our time they were talking about it.

[Katusha] It's a conversation piece.

You are at the same time Students and Teachers. What composition of teachers would you recommend to younger people? Do you think it is more valuable to go to different teachers to get different points of view or rather have 1, 2 or 3 to teach you?

[Arunas] I think when you just start you should go to 1. There is no point to go to many teachers when you are just beginning. As you develop then you should try to have more opinions from different people and then I think what happens or it happened in my own development you start getting different opinions from different people and then I realised and felt that greater responsibility came to me. I became more responsible about what I was doing. When you are starting you think OK the teachers tells me to "do this" and I do because I feel success depends a lot on my teacher because he or she is teaching me.
But then as you become more experienced you become more self-responsible and the more opinions you get the better it is but obviously you cannot go to everyone it is just impossible, You just don't have the time .From what is available outside you go to the lectures and listen and then you decide who you want to go to and whose opinion you value most of all and then get those opinions and that will improve your dancing.

Have you ever been in the situation when two different coaches gave you contradictory advice?

[Arunas] I think everyone gets this and especially at a younger age. That can be very difficult because the words can sound very contradictory. We have all been in such situations and it is very confusing. You think both teachers are great, former champions and very successful in their careers and then you think they have completely different priorities. But in many cases I later realized it was not the idea itself that so different but the method of achieving it was very different.

When you came together did you have the same coaches or very different coaches and have to choose?

[Katusha] The same coaches. We did not have any decisions to make.

[Arunas] Actually that made it easier. We know that some partnerships when they are formed they have difficult choices to make when they come from very different teachers and backgrounds.

You personally would you prefer to be called an athlete or an artist?

[Arunas] I prefer to be called a dancer because that is what we are really. IDSF are very strong about it - „an athlete“ - but a dancesport athlete is a dancer . I don't think it makes dancing more a sport because you call someone an athlete. There is a sport aspect because we have to be very physically fit but what we do is dancing so it seems very sensible to call us dancers.

To ask a difficult question. What do you think about Anti-Doping Control?

[Arunas] Well it's not really needed in dancing that's what I personally believe because our performances are not depending only on physical stamina the doping used today enhances that part the physical stamina. Strength and I don't think it could help someone to win by using doping or something illegal. I think it is a waste of time and money honestly.

[Katusha] Because the physical part is only one aspect.

[Arunas] It is only one aspect and I don't think you can become ...

[Katusha] ... a greater dancer

[Arunas] ... or more musical or more expressive or increase your understanding of dancing. The general dancing is there so enhancing one small part of total package is not going to make you win. It is only IDSF and it is not because they thought we had a problem in dancing but because they are trying to get in to the Olympics and all the Olympic sports comply with the World Anti-Doping Control.. They go there they do this but it is not because we have a problem in our business.

You had a personal experience?

[Arunas] Yes, I have personal experience and to take that particular case with Edita where the substance found would actually be detrimental to the dancer because it would alter the co-ordination negatively. It is a stimulant so it can improve your physical strength in the beginning. If you had to take the pill and run it could be beneficial but if you have to dance it is a complete nonsense. Edita and I had to deal with all that, there were costs, because the lawyers got involved. It was also very stressful because World Championships was coming up. When I look back, I just think it was so ridiculous that so much time and money had to be spent on that.

I think they banned you for 3 months. Another couple took part in a forbidden competition and got banned for 12 months. So to dance in Assen was 4 times worse than doping (laughter)

[Katusha] I must say it makes no sense

[Arunas] All these bans and restrictions they make no sense and I think they are most damaging for the organisation which is issuing those bans. It is not based on sensible points. A well established competition like UK which has been for so many years and is well respected, how can it be banned by some country, how it is not suitable for their dancers to go? It makes no sense and is not understandable. The 3 competitions in England they are so important. They have always been that way and I cannot see it changing in the future. As dancers we feel it is our responsibility to be here.

Thank you very much. Do you have a message for our readers?

[Arunas] Love dancing and you will have a good life.

[Katusha] Persevere. We had a dream come true and so can you.

onyourtoes Monday, 08 Feb 2010, 22:45

I have to agree with you Jazz  Some really interesting responses..

jazz Monday, 08 Feb 2010, 19:16

Arunas, not just  a great dancer, forged by a fire,   but also a wise,  tactful man.   Much to be learnt from Katusha's patience to get her own way 

Great interview,  great and thorough investigative questions Admin.,  not to forget the  superb and honest answers.

Thank you