Finally we have met at the German Open 2012 after several years trying to organise this interview!
What I believe in is that if you are good in what you are doing and you stick to your principles you will succeed in your personal development and in dancing
I would like to ask both of you how did you first get into dancing?
Domenico: Can I start?
Gioia: OK, you first. We have the same history anyway!
Domenico: We started our dancing at the same time and from the beginning we danced together. It was nearly 25 years ago and we were in the last year of Juvenile. We were lucky enough that our partnership worked out very well from the very beginning.
Where did you dance then?
Gioia: It was in Sabaudia near Rome in Italy, where we lived. We are both from the same town. It happened that our parents were going to the school for social dance classes. We met there and started together for fun, as a joke. In 1989 it was our first competition together.
Did your parents know each other before?
Domenico: No, actually not. They were in the different dance schools at first. My parents were looking for a partner for me and Gioia's for her. And their common friend, one person, suggested one for another. So our parents met each other and we started together. It was a lucky day and we thank this friend of our parents for it! Without knowing he gave us a great future!
Did you start with Ballroom and Latin?
Domenico: We did both Ballroom and Latin but we started, as it is usual in Italy, with Liscio, which is a traditional style in Italy and it comprises with three dances: Mazurka, Polka and the Viennese Waltz.
I did not know you dance Mazurka in Italy. It is a traditional Polish dance.
Domenico: Yes it is. And it is part of the competition discipline called Liscio Unificato in Italy. It may be strange that this traditional discipline has dances which are not Italian. Mazurka comes from Poland, Polka from Czech and the Viennese Waltz from Austria. Nevertheless, these dances are quite easy for the beginners and easy to start dancing with. We started with that and then moved to Ballroom and Latin. We went through Junior already starting to feel more comfortable with Ballroom and with the Youth we decided to give Standard the priority.
Gioia: We immediately had very good results in Standard. Even as Juniors.
Domenico: Ballroom style of dancing came more natural to us. We learned it faster...
Gioia: Our teacher was more into Ballroom as well
Domenico: It is possible that teacher influenced us. When you like something more you tend to feel it more and teach with more enthusiasm. Maybe you transmit it to your students as well
Gioia: Anyway, everything led us naturally into Standard
Domenico: We like the Latin of course, it is exciting to watch.
So from the Youth you dropped Latin and danced Standard only?
Domenico: No. We actually kept the Latin through all the Youth because we wanted to prepare for the 10 Dances, but we were already concentrating on the the Ballroom style more. After that we decided to concentrate only on the Ballroom.
What do you consider your first success?
Domenico: Well, the first success to me was the Italian Championships of the beginner class where we actually come up second. It was our first year in Junior, we were almost twelve years old. I remember it very well and it was a very emotional experience for me. It was National Championships and I was thinking Italy was so big and we were competing against couples who came from all over the country. It was something which I never though was possible for us to do. Being second at that championship was already an impressive success.
Gioia: I think our first big international success was the second place at the World Youth Standard championships. Previously we did the final at the International as Juniors but from that World Championship our career really started. The next year we won the Under21 at Blackpool and then so on. I personally remember and have a good memory of the first World Championship we won as Amateur. It was a great thing for us.
What is the most memorable competition?
Domenico: I have a few that I remember with emotions. One was not a complete win but a tie, in Blackpool where we won two dances, with another couple who we respect very much, Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti. We always saw them as very, very good dancers and being tied for the title with them was very exciting for us.
Gioia: We finished second by rule 11.
Domenico: Only rule 11 placed us second and we were very excited about that competition. The next memorable competition for me is the first World Championship in Amateur group. It was our first title even if we were quite close before. This time we won over the Lithuanian couple (Arunas Bizokas and Edita Daniute) and the championship was actually in Lithuania so it was not obvious. Of course, Arunas and Edita who were placed second were extremely good as well. They helped us to improve because we always considered them as very good rivals and fought hard to win with them.
Gioia: Those competitions are well remembered...
If you read our interviews on dancesportinfo you probably know what sort of questions we like to ask.
Gioia: Yes and we are ready for it! (laughing)
What do you value best in your partner?
Domenico: It is a deep question because there are many, many things I like about my partner, my wife (laughing). So to pick one particular thing is not easy.
Oh. Don't try to avoid this question (laughing)
Domenico: No, no. I am trying to think now. OK, what I like in Gioia is her sensitivity. She is very considerate of other people feelings. I like that in her. I feel that she is a giving person and that affects people around her and me as well. This is the first thing which comes to my mind.
Gioia: It is not easy because we know each other for so many years. What I always liked in Domenico, both in dancing and in life, is that he has a respect for others. He always challenges himself and does not try to find excuses for his actions. He always tries to do his best and he is always honest with himself. Sometimes I feel it is not easy. There were times when we won competition but we were not happy with our performance. Domenico would come off the floor and say: OK, we won but it was not our best, so I want to do better next time. I appreciate it because I think it is a very good to be able to be honest with yourself and not to blame others. He is the same in real life as well. He rather questions himself rather than finds excuses. This is one thing I can think of now...
Are you saying it is difficult to find more positives about Domenico? (laughing)
Gioia: No!! But it is difficult to find the correct words for your feelings!
Domenico: Especially when you trying to say it not in your own language! Well, you don't want to use wrong words to express yourself in such an important matter. We are in the relationship, each of us has own character...
Gioia: And his is not easy! Actually we are completely opposite.
Domenico: I like that Gioia is able to encourage me and bring me up when I am feeling down.
Gioia: And you are doing the same for me!
Domenico: There are so many things happening in life and we are there for each other in different situations. It is not simple to say it all in few words. The main thing is that we are with each other now, who knows what the future will bring, but we are now in the honest, helping and trusting relationship.
Gioia: And we were able to go face whatever life brought us: good moments and very bad moments. It helped to build a very strong relationship.
What is the worst in your partner? Gioia (laughing) Too much to say! He is stubborn; he does not like to change his mind. If he believes in something he sticks with it. It is good in a way but sometimes it is too much.
Domenico: I don't like changing my mind.
Gioia: If he wants something he is determined to succeed. He pushes and pushes. And it can be very good but sometimes it is too much. It is not just in dancing but this is his character. He is a typical Taurus. I am Gemini so I am different.
Domenico: What don't I like in my wife... I don't know.
Gioia: Oh, you find that one difficult! That's good (laughing)
Domenico: Normally I am always complaining but now I cannot find anything. But then, I like complaining (laughing). If she doesn't give me a reason for complaining that is a bigger problem!
So Gioia's fault is she is too perfect?
Domenico: Yes, exactly! But joking aside now. As she said earlier, when I want to reach certain target, I focus strongly on it and get totally involved in it. It can be very intense. But Gioia may then say: it is too much, let's relax. And then we get into disagreements.
Gioia: At that point he may get annoyed but then he thinks about it.
Domenico: It is normal that people have different points of view and we can talk about it as well.
What do you like to do besides dancing?
Domenico: I like to spend time with friends which I don't have chance to see very often.
Gioia: These friends are not dancing
Domenico: These are people who we studies together with or did other sports together. They have totally different life styles than ours. And it is nice to be able to get together with people who do completely different things and work than ours. Our life is traveling and competing or thinking about dancing all the time. When we are with these friends we are able to talk about something else, laugh about silly things and it is a relief.
Gioia: He likes playing football very much. Typical Italian.
Domenico: I played football a lot when I was young until seventeen or so years old.
So I guess you were interested in the recent football Euro2012?
Domenico: Up until the final I was very happy with the Italian team and in the final it was a disaster. Actually it was a success to get to the final but then we wanted more!
When you travel for competitions do you try to make it a holiday as well?
Gioia: It depends. If we can we try to take maybe a day off and visit the place, do some sightseeing and take pictures. But it is not always possible, nearly never it is possible. When you travel for work, you are on a schedule and you do not have any free time. When we have some free time we want to rest. If you travel to the far away country you have a jet lag and you are so tired you just want to sleep.
Domenico: If we have a chance we like to find inspirations from other things. We can go and see a show and that can inspire us. When we go on holiday we like to relax and do completely different things. We may try some other sports or go to see galleries.
Gioia: We like to go to the seaside.
Domenico: She likes to relax there
Gioia: Yes, relax and then go and see around and breathe the fresh air. I like to go to the dinner and walk to the town, enjoy the atmosphere of the place... Ideally in a warm weather
What kind of food do you like?
Domenico: Italian is the best! But everywhere we go...
Gioia: Not everywhere...
Domenico: Oh, this is what I don't like about her – she interrupts a lot! (laughing) OK, we may not like everything but generally we try to find something we try in every place we go. In some places we find fewer thing we like and in some, we find a lot. In England you have fish and chips (laughing). In Germany there are lot of foods we like.
Gioia: Japan is good, they have very good food which we like very much.
Domenico: We like Chinese food as well in China. But there are many different styles in there
Gioia: So it depends when you go. Some are a bit extreme for us.
Did you ever try any strange food and what was it? Maybe some fried worms?
Domenico: That we have in Italy! In Sardinia they have a special kind of cheese with worms inside. But I don't like when the food is still moving! Generally I tend to eat what I already know and like. It is not always possible.
Gioia: In England we normally go to Indian restaurants. This is good.
Who is cooking at home?
Gioia: Me! And I have to say I enjoy it. It makes me relax.
What do you cook?
Gioia: Italian food of course. I cook spaghetti – always! We like fish so I make pasta with fish or bake the fish. We also like steaks.
And who is normally driving?
Domenico: Me generally
Gioia: I can drive as well but when we are traveling together he drives and I sit and rest.
Domenico: She never sleeps so she is a good company
Gioia: I am a good company because I talk and talk
Domenico: After a while I stop listening (laughing)
OK, so who organises everything like tickets, hotels?
Domenico: Flights, hotels and all that is Gioia's job. She arranges it all.
Gioia: All the emails are done by him!
Why did you decide to retire?
Domenico: We have decided to retire because we had a long career of nearly 25 years and it was luckily very successful nearly all the way. From our first final in the Amateur in year 2000 we've never missed a single final until today. In Amateur and Professional we've never missed a single competition. Being in the top six couples for 12 years, every single event, it takes a lot of work. There is also element of a bit of luck but keeping the results consistent is hard. We feel we had the results we always wanted to achieve. We were the first foreign couple to win the British Open for three times and, as far as I can recall, the first Amateur couple to achieve that. Also, we were the first couple who won and kept all the major titles for three years. We hardly ever missed a competition and we never missed any important one. We feel that now is the right time to retire while we are still at the top.
Gioia: We want to keep the same image of us. We worked so hard to get there.
You will be definitely remembered for you quality! The famous jump in Quickstep... I've seen so many photographers waiting specifically for that and trying to capture it at the right moment. Let's talk about you decision to become Professional and when motivated your choice.
Domenico: Yes, as you said, quality is very important to us as we believe that it is what makes the difference. Bringing the quality level of all the aspects involved in dancing to the maximum is the goal in order to differentiate yourself, but that takes time and experience. The beauty of dancing is the expression of your individuality, and sometimes some particular steps may be remembered more for the unique way the couple is executing them, like the jump in quick step for us... Now about the decision of turning professional, that happened in October 2006 at the International Championship at the end of our third year at the top of the Amateur section. We felt that we were ready and very motivated to take the new challenge in the most difficult level, and we had great experiences being finalists every year in the UK Open, Blackpool and International, winning the German Open and the World and European championship in the WDSF. The professional years gave us lots of opportunity for our improvement and we are very proud of our achievements.
Will we still see you in shows?
Gioia: Yes, we are planning more shows
What would you do if you could not dance?
Domenico: It is tough, my whole life was dancing and I would love to keep myself involved in it.
Gioia: We would still somehow stay in dancing world. We love teaching.
Domenico: It is hard to find something which gives me the same feeling, the feeling of partnership, sharing things with each other, having this type of exchange of emotions. Maybe if there was some other activity which would give me the same feeling... Maybe another form of art
As you now retired are you planning to settle some place, open a studio, have a dog, a family?
Domenico: We already have our own place, our home and our studio. It should be easier now to maintain a correct balance between our private life and work, traveling and free time.
Gioia: We will still be traveling because we like it. But we will find a correct balance. We will see what the life brings us.
Domenico: We are prepared mentally for the retirement and we are looking forward to it. We are excited to get now fully involved with teaching, just as we were with dancing. We are looking forward to that.
I still feel a bit sad that you are now becoming history of dancing and I regret I won't see you competing anymore but I understand you reasons and good luck! Thank you very much for this interview.
All images by Jure Makovec