We sat with Alex and Elza in the lobby of Bournemouth International Centre the day after they won the Amateur Rising Star Latin competition.
They dance together for several months and recently changed the country they represent from Italy to Latvia. See their
results page and photos in our galleries.
If I achieve one thing it is not the finish I can always want more and be better
First of all Let us congratulate you on yesterday's result
[Alex] Thank you very much
You were probably quite happy as well
[Alex] Oh, yes. It is only now that I realise and understand it.
So now please if we can start by asking you to tell us something about yourself, how you met how you started dancing together?
[Elza] Ladies first? When I started I just had some dancing lessons at school. That is from the first year in school.
How old were you?
[Elza] 6 years old. It was in a small town in Latvia, near the capital Riga, and after I started these lessons I got the will to dance more not only in school but after
school and so I began to go to Riga more and more.
What age were you when you started competitive dancing?
[Elza] I would say age 10 was the first competitions I would count. Until March of last year I was still dancing in my country and then I had the
possibility to change not only the country but my whole life and to start dancing with this young gentleman.
[Alex] (laughing) It was a nice day, a very nice day
Alex, and how did you start?
[Alex] I started the same I started in a small town called Minerbio near Bologna and I danced with a girl for a time and then when we stopped I started to dance
with my sister. I danced a lot of years with my sister and together we won Blackpool Junior in 2001. Then after that I danced with
a Russian girl, 2 years ago I split with her and then for 1 year maybe year and a half I stopped completely. I needed to understand and decide exactly
what I wanted from my life, in my mind, in everything, I needed to be clear and then I knew. I said OK this is my life, l want to start again let's look
for a partner and then I found this wonderful young lady from Riga, Latvia.
How did you find each other?
[Alex] From the internet.
[Elza] Actually it was even dancesportinfo. That helped us get together.
That's very nice to hear that
[Alex] (laughing) So thank you very much. If we won yesterday it was also for you.
You are the second couple today that we interviewed and who met through dancesportinfo!
[Alex] So it's a wonderful year for you
It is nice to know we help people. So when and where did you meet?
[Elza] I already knew Alex from the various competitions. If I can say it, Alex is older than me.
[Alex] (laughing) Yes I am older, so?
(laughing) Older? By one week perhaps
[Alex] No, no, no. I'm 23 years old
[Elza] So, as I said I knew Alex from before and I also knew some of his results. When I had this opportunity to try out with him I never needed
to think even for one minute.
[Alex] We met in May, which was the first try out, so it is only 6 or 7 months ago. Then Elsa needed to finish her schooling.
[Elza] Yes, this was one of the reasons why I said "Alex I really want to dance with you but I have this problem where I am still in high school
so I understand you have already waited a long time but if you will wait just a little bit longer". So I travelled to Italy for a week we worked on some
programmes then I went back to Latvia to do my exams then finally last year I finished my high school.
[Alex] (breaking in with a smile) what can I say all through life the man he waits for the girl so if I wait one week, one month for this girl
what's the problem
Are you based in Italy or Latvia?
[Alex] Italy, we live in Bologna. We have a club in Bologna. We dance for Latvia but we live in Italy.
So when you met for the try out was it an immediate connection? That's the girl for me ...
[Alex] For me, yes. Actually there was this one other girl.
But not for her?
[Alex] Sure, also for her. It was not straight away yes in the first hour but, sure, after 2 or 3 hours. It was just: "Yes".
[Elza] Like I said, when I heard I had the possibility to have a try-out with Alex I knew I really wanted to dance with this (very slight pause)
[Alex] (laughing) this?
[Elza] ... person ...
[Alex] "this person"! (outbreak of general laughter)
[Elza] I knew that he had not been dancing for a long time. I also knew that he had had a lot of try outs. I said to Alex "Why did you really
have so many try outs" and I remember that he said "there were too many try outs" and then I became afraid that maybe he can't decide...
[Alex] (breaking in as Elsa pauses) At this time I was still a little bit confused in my mind and I really was not completely understanding if I
wanted to continue, if I wanted to dance. Then I realise this is my life and I have to live it.
[Elza] For me there was never any question Yes or No
Did you have another interest especially during the time you were away from dancing?
[Alex] No. OK, I had my family and my friends. Oh and (with a laugh) food sometimes!
[Elza] Italians cannot live without their food.
[Alex] And a little bit of football.
Were you watching or playing football?
[Elza] No, he was playing.
Elza, and you outside dancing?
[Elza] I had already made one choice, 8 years ago. I was swimming and dancing but you cannot keep up a high quality in two different things. So I
had to choose and at that stage I chose the dancing. And (with a laugh) that is why I am here.
I guess that yesterday is your biggest achievement. Would you agree?
[Alex] I think so. Yes.
[Elza] Of course. Yesterday was my first UK ever. I had never danced here. Yesterday from 9 o'clock in the morning when we had the first heat
everything was new for me and I tried to catch each moment from the first time walking on to the floor till the last jive at the end of the evening.
So how did you find the UK Open? It is interesting if you have never been before.
[Elza] I find all English competitions have ... how do I describe it?
[Alex] (in background) ... atmosphere ...
[Elza] (continuing) I find each English competition has its own qualities and it gives me the feeling of a celebration. When you come here you
meet so many people. All the higher quality teachers, the dancers, and you feel really like ... I can only compare it to a birthday day. For each person
that is maybe their biggest celebration in a year, so for me each competition is like my birthday.
[Alex] I was a little bit afraid because my last UK was 2 years ago when I was dancing with the Russian partner and we were placed 120th. The 2
years before that we made the top 24. But no, after the first round we went out in the 90-120 and we were going home. That was my last UK and yesterday
we came back.
And it was a bit better
[Alex] (laughing) A bit better yes. No actually it was completely different and before we had been thinking "shall we dance or shall we not
Coming here had you set yourself a target? Say we want to reach the final, semi, quarter-final? Did you really think you would make the
final? Did you believe you had a realistic chance to win?
[Alex] No. Yesterday morning at 8.30 and we had to dance at 9 o'clock I did not know who was dancing; I did not know the judges. Before, I did
not even know if I would dance. I said to my coach on Monday "do I dance tomorrow?" and he said "We will see. Maybe, but we will see" so even the night
before I did not know. So you can imagine how difficult it was. Yesterday after the first round some judges (DSI note – not from the panel) and some
English judges came to me and said "You are dancing very well, it is very nice partnership, and costumes are very good. If you continue like that you
will be in the final". Then when you are in the 24 you start to believe it and then in the semi and finally it is the final. Afterwards many people came
and said "You danced good you are the winner". So before the prize ceremony you begin to think I'm the winner but they did not say anything at all to me
so I must wait until the announcement.
[Elza] This was really, how should I say it, you can get so many positive emotions when you can cry from happiness.
Yes, you can cry from happiness.
[Elza] The thing that I love about dancing with Alex is that he said he is not coming back because he wants to achieve results but because he
loves dancing. So I know that any kind of result we have he is dancing just because he loves to. This is the best feeling and the best answer that you
can get from your partner. And it is what keeps you going forward.
What would you describe as your strongest point in your dancing?
[Elza] I am the person that is just trying to (pause) I don't know how to describe this
[Alex] (with a smile) It is so difficult?
[Elza] To say a good point for me, Yes, I never have a roof. If I achieve one thing it is not the finish I can always want more and be better. I
am not talking about results but about me growing and development in dancing.
So really it is a determination to be the best you possibly can.
[Elza] (with a smile) Yes, of course. If I have to describe my goal it is to find a special feminine quality, not to be ordinary. If that is the
way to describe it.
Alex, and yours?
[Alex] When I see this wonderful girl, this wonderful dancer, well she is my partner
[Elza] (breaking in with a laugh) He can talk like that
[Alex] I am really, really, really happy
[Elza] I am enjoying this
[Alex] When I go on the floor and I see her and I look in her eyes and I feel that she is nice and is wonderful. I am not talking just about the
dancing. When you are a man and you go on the floor and you have this beautiful woman then you start to believe in this feeling, It is not only about
the dancing I like to feel a man. Real man, with a woman in my arms and we create something together.
Are you a private couple?
So you are a dancing couple?
[Alex] We are just a work couple (outbreak of laughter) We work together
Do you have time for a private life, girlfriend, boyfriend, and friends?
[Elza] Well. How can I say this? When I left my previous life, my own country...
[Alex] (breaking in) She likes to know everyone
Well she is a beautiful girl. Maybe you are a handsome man but (laughter) I don't know, I've heard you are.
[Alex] I think if you want something then you can try to find some way to do it.
[Elza] What I wanted to say was that the reason I left my home and family was my dancing and that is why I am in Italy. I can say that at the
moment my love is dancing.
What is the most important thing in dancing for you? How would you express your feelings for dancing?
[Alex] I enjoy dancing. I mean the feeling between us. When you feel the connection between each other, this is wonderful. It's not the rumba
walk 3 or 4 hours a day every day. Maybe at the beginning but after it is about the dancing not the steps in the dancing.
[Elza] For me it is about knowing what you want. Just to get the positive emotions because dancing is very hard work physically, the hours we
spend in practise. Maybe the people outside the dancing they think it's easy but that's wrong. There are the hours we spend working and people outside
can never imagine this. So after all this practise and hard work then when you come like here just enjoy. If you can do that then that is what dancing
is all about
If you could not dance what would you do?
[Alex] That's an interesting question (then silence for seconds then) ... It is so hard to say because I believe that I was born to dance. It is
difficult to say. I don't know.
[Elza] I have asked myself this question because sometimes you have some kind of crisis or when you get into a routine which is maybe boring,
constantly repeating the same thing. Boring... So sometimes you ask yourself the question should I dance or stop and then I see someone on the street
without an arm or a leg. That makes me understand that I still have this opportunity to dance. So because I have the possibility to dance there is no
reason for me to be sad or question it. God gave me everything to do this, to go forward.
Do you have a favourite dance?
[Alex] Paso Doble.
[Elza] (laughing) I was completely sure about this.
[Alex] It's my favourite song. There are 5 dances and each dance is a song. If you have 5 children then you cannot say which one is your
favourite, but is for me Paso
[Elza] I would say Rumba because that is really the dance where I can show and (laughing) be the dancing queen of the evening.
Why dance Latin and not ballroom?
[Alex] I was dancing ballroom years ago and won the International.
But you chose Latin, why?
[Alex] I was really bored to practise Ballroom every day. I don't like the music (breaking into slow song). It's too ... slow ... if you have to
practise at 10 in the morning
[Elza] I can argue with this one.
[Alex] At 10 o'clock in the morning how can you play some waltz (laughing)? Come on, you cannot wake up. You need some jive (another laugh)
[Elza] More than a year ago I was dancing ballroom with my previous partner and I miss it. Maybe it is only the music but when you have only
these 5 Latin dances, these 5 songs sometimes I am thinking how nice it would be just to escape from them and have those other 5 songs. Slow waltz,
Tango because I find each of them different and very specific. Sometimes I really miss ballroom
Which dance would you choose as you favourite in Ballroom?
[Elza] Definitely slow foxtrot.
[Alex] For me - Tango. In Latin it is Paso Doble, in Ballroom it is Tango. Its logical (laughter)
It's interesting because the majority of dancers I have talked to if they choose Rumba in Latin they also choose Foxtrot in ballroom.
Tango and Paso Doble as well.
[Elza] Really? Maybe it's part of the character.
Do you draw inspiration from the music? Do you feel you dance with more emotion to one song than another?
[Alex] Of course. When you practise sometimes you use the one song all the time because you love this music. Then if this music is played at the
competition it is great. If it is the final, the feeling is completely different and wonderful. Also if you have memories of a competition where they
played a particular song and that competition was not going good, then when this song is played the feelings are not so positive. If you really feel a
song and you love this song then you dance better with it
In a very short time you have become very successful, and winning this competition is a big success what advice would you give to our
members, because remember not many will achieve what you have. What leads to the success?
[Alex] Work. Work, work, work. I remember after I won Junior Blackpool I never won any major competition. I am 23 now and at Junior Blackpool I was 14 so
for 9 years I never won a competition of the same high level. Never, never, never. I continued to work, I continued to practise, I continued to take lessons and spend money, a
lot of money. I just continued and people said you are really good we will see in the future. You have to believe in yourself. You must believe in
[Elza] With this one I want to agree. This is where you should start from and this is what I am trying to learn. That is from where it all
starts, when you believe in yourself and also do not put a roof on yourself as I said before. When you achieve one thing, don't stop. We won yesterday
but that does not mean we relax. That's what I want to tell other dancers. Make another goal and go forward. You can be happy about it and enjoy the
good emotions but look forward
We all know that this year there were some problems on the Russian and Italian side some couples could not come. Were you dancing with
FIDS or another body?
[Alex] Well, we changed our Federations and now we dance for Latvia. In Latvia there was no problem but for Italy we made the entry start of
December with the Federation and after 3 or 4 days they sent the letter back and had written we cannot dance in the competition. I thought now what do I
do? I want to go to the UK because this is one of the most important competitions so the only thing was to change the country. So I said to Italian
Federation "OK, Ciao" because I want to go to UK and I will go there. Can you imagine if we did not come and stayed home?
Yes, you would not be winners.
[Elza] When we started to dance together we were sure that we would dance for Italy and then maybe at some future date dance for Latvia but when
we heard about this and if we dance for Italy there is no chance to come here, then that for us was the last point.
[Alex] I can understand if there is some problem between England and Italy but why do they have to say to the couple that they cannot dance.
[Elza] We just want to dance.
[Alex] I am not sure how to say this but if the couple stay at home, the couples are the only one who can say something to the Italian
Federation. If you want to make a war Italy against England OK but don't use the couples. The couple has to dance and if they want to go to England or
some other country, I don't know say Bulgaria, they should be able to go.
So this means that whatever happens with these problems we will still see you at Blackpool and at the International?
[Alex] For sure, for sure
[Elza] Of course.
Do you prefer to go to many teachers to get a different point of view, a different angle to your dancing, or do you prefer to stay with
a selected few?
[Elza] It is never possible to do all the different things the people tell you. If you get everything from one and then you get everything from
another you can go crazy. You just have to find the thing that is right for you, but the fewer teachers you have so the road still stays the same - it
is the best.
[Alex] The focus is different with a different teacher
Is there anyone past or present who is the best example for you in dancing?
[Alex] I really like the style of Slavik who danced with Karina, At the moment it is a great final, great dancers but I do not see anyone who is
[Elza] For example, in the time when Slavik and Karina danced together all the couples that were in the final were special. Each one was so
special and each with their own special thing. You still remember that today, years after. Every couple who develops their own style their own
individuality can be an idol for me
Earlier I asked you what was your strongest point now please what is the biggest fault in your partner
[Alex] I think I am not so tall.
No, tell me Elza's weakest point.
[Alex] Oh! Fantastic (laughs). OK sometimes, sometimes the feet. To work of the feet, the technique, but that's if we must find some fault but in
the end she is wonderful.
[Elza] (laughs) OK, shall I change my feet? Alex's faults? He is Italian and he has his own temperament. Sometimes we get these situations where
it all gets too hot. The character of Alex... I can only say that for him it is all black or white. There is nothing in the middle. So sometimes when
this black becomes really, really black this is the point when we should just chill off.
[Alex] (laughing again) OK, see you tomorrow,
[Elza] Even just a 5 minute break can be enough but anyway this partnership was my choice.
[Alex] She is really very nice because some girls understand that you start to become angry, very angry, and they come to you and say "why did
you do that?" If she sees me becoming that, she turns and goes away for 5 or 10 minutes. She is clever.
[Elza] When I split with my previous partner I said to my Mum "Oh, how I would love to dance with some Italian or Spanish man. Because Italian or
Latin men who have this temperament they really can get the feeling of these Latin dances"
So we wish you good luck in many World Championships to come.
[Alex] Thank you very much.
[Elza] But we still have a lot of other competitions like Latvian Championships
At Blackpool do you plan Rising Stars and the main event or just the main one?
[Alex] Maybe like at the UK Open, we will only find out the day before.
[Elza] We may
[Alex]I don't know we will see
Thank you very much for this interview and good luck for the future