Interview with Andreas Hoffmann and Isabel Krüger

Interview with Andreas Hoffmann and Isabel Krüger

Posted on Saturday, 01 Oct 2011, 09:57 by admin
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We talked to Andreas Hoffmann and Isabel Krüger in Blackpool after they won the Senior Latin event. They represent Germany and are German Senior Latin champions. See their profile page.

To get the title may not be that hard. But it is hard to defend it...

Congratulations! After two second places now came the first place! I hope you enjoyed your dancing as much as we enjoyed it. Can we ask you how you started dancing?

[Isabel] OK, it was a long time ago. I started when I was three or four with ballet which I danced for twelve years. I went to a dancing school in Cologne to learn the Waltz, the basics and Ralph Lepehne saw me and said I was talented. Ralph came to our dancing school to teach formation and he said to me I should dance competitions. So I decided to try. My first competition was in 1991. We danced in Amateur for a long time and in 2009 we turned Senior.

[Andreas] I started when I was five years old in a small dance school in East Germany in Gorlitz. I danced there for ten years and then had a break for few years. I restarted again when I was about eighteen.

How did two of you meet?

[Isabel] We met in the early 1990s. I saw him and thought: what a talented boy! I was looking for a dancing partner but he had one already. I was about twenty four then. Our paths did not cross then (laughing). We met again years later and became a couple privately. I was again looking for a partner and Ralph Lepehne, after German Open, said to us we should try together. We had a long discussion about it and decided to give it a try. It was 1998.

And you are still together? Married?

[Isabel] Not married but, yes, we are together! We live together...

Enjoying life together...

[Isabel] Yes, we try to have fun together!

Where do you like to dance, to compete?

[Isabel] There are very many competitions in Germany which are very nice. Even small ones. We also dance a lot of invitational competitions. There are very nice competitions in Spain as well. We also danced in England, in the Netherlands...

[Andreas] In Austria...

[Isabel] We try to do lots of different countries. But it is quite expensive. We have to work to earn the money for dancing and for traveling.

[Andreas] We have 30 days for vacations which we can spend on competitions. So we have no chance to travel to Asia for instance...

So what kind of work do you do? What are your professions?

[Isabel] I am an executive assistant to the director of a big company which produces industrial vacuum pumps.

[Andreas] I am a quality manager in a small company in the automotive business.

Interesting... Nothing to do with dancing!

[Andreas] No, no! (laughing)

How difficult it is to manage your dancing when you work or work when you dance?

[Isabel] It is difficult. Sometimes you have to work long hours and you are so tired but you have your dance practice as well... And the only thing you can think of is sleep!!

So how many hours you can manage to practise? Most of the dancers we talked to, they are just dancing, they do not have this professional life outside dancing. With Seniors it is usually different... So how much time you can spend on dancing?

[Andreas] Depends really... The problem is that in my job we do not work normal office hours. So it is hard to plan dancing practice.

[Isabel] For me it is easier. I can choose when I work, I can start earlier, or I can work longer hours and save time for later, I can then have one day off from work. I can manage my time like that.

[Andreas] We try to dance two hours per day.

Do you go to lessons to other teachers?

[Isabel] We have two trainers now Petra Matschullat-Horn from Cologne and Dirk Heidemann from Berlin. They come regularly to our club in Cologne for teaching. They also run group lessons. Sometimes we have guest teachers so we have a chance to get lessons with them. But we like to work with our regular teachers because we feel great support from them. We feel very close to them.

So you prefer to have just a small selected group of teachers?

[Isabel] Yes, we like that

Many people say that you cannot win Blackpool if you do not go to English teachers...

[Isabel] Yes you can!! (laughing)

[Andreas] We've never went to any English teacher

Yes, you are the living proof of that!

[Isabel] We are really proud of ourselves that we never had lessons in England and won!

So I guess it made you feel happy!

[Isabel] It was unbelievable really!

What was your worst time in dancing?

[Isabel] I think it was our last year as Amateurs.

[Andreas] Yes, very frustrating...

[Isabel] It was frustrating. We knew we were not bad but dancing in Amateur is so fast, spectacular, often with no good basics. We always tried to dance with the music, try to move our bodies to the music but we appeared... slower... in comparison with the other couples.

[Andreas] We felt we knew what we were doing while the others just went for the speed

[Isabel] So our results were not good. So we decided to look for another possibility to express ourselves in dancing and moved to Seniors

Do you see dancing more as a sport or as an art?

[Andreas] You must be fit, you must train your body to be able to dance so there is an element of sport.

[Isabel] You have to be really fit to endure five rounds! It is hard. You have to be also prepared mentally to be able to hold the concentration for the whole day, sometimes with long breaks between the rounds of dancing.

I can see your phone is ringing... You must have got many congratulations after you won

[Isabel] Yes! On facebook, I think, my profile is exploding! Anyway, back to your previous question, I think dancing is art because you have music and you move your body to the music in order to express something.

What is your partner's the biggest virtue?

[Isabel] Reliability! I can always rely on Andreas, on the dance floor and in life

[Andreas] Everything... Everything about her is fantastic (laughing).

Ok, next question is going to be difficult then for you. What is the worst in your partner?

[Isabel] (pretending to be Andreas) That she hurts me!! (laughing) I hurt him yesterday with my nail, I scratched him in the Rumba yesterday

[Andreas] She gets a little bit frustrated...

[Isabel] No!!

[Andreas] Yes! She gets frustrated with a change, for instance when our choreography changes.

[Isabel] He is very demanding, hard with me when we practise. Nothing is never good enough for him. Oh, sometimes I really hate him (laughing)!

That's why you got to the first place here!

[Andreas] Yes! For sure

Do you like traveling? What is the most original place you went to?

[Isabel] We often go to Majorca, where we have friends. We can only have a short holiday break and Majorca feels like home for us.

[Andreas] We like Spain very much. Isabel speak Spanish a little.

[Isabel] England is also beautiful! Hmmm, not the weather and not the English breakfast! I would say that every country we go to has something special. But Spain is my favourite.

[Andreas] I agree. Barcelona is especially beautiful town for us.

How many languages do you speak?

[Isabel] German!! (laughing) English, French, Spanish... and a very little of Italian. In every country we go to we try to speak at least few words, for example order food in their language.

What are your plans for the future?

[Isabel] In dancing - we want to be World champions. This is for the nearest future actually. We have to practise a lot for this year. The World Championship is in France this year and the French couple is a champion so it will be hard!

[Andreas] And in life... we will see what the future brings. We do not have any concrete plans.

You must be thirty seven years old now so you still have plenty of time and career in Senior. Are you planning to dance in Senior for a long time?

[Isabel] We have no plans of when to stop. However, I do not think we will dance Latin in Senior II, I think this will be the time to stop. You have to stop at some point. I am now in dancing for over 20 years. I think it is a lot. But we will see...

Will you be dancing in October at the International?

[Isabel] No, I do not think so.

[Andreas] We did not talk about it yet. We had plans for the first half of the year and the other half we will rest.

Senior dancing in Germany is very strong. Will you feel the stress now that you cannot lose?

[Isabel] It will be hard, there are many good couples in Germany. This year we had to defend our German title.

[Andreas] It was very hard, believe me!

[Isabel] To get the title may not be that hard. But it is hard to defend it... We are very happy that we do not have ranking competitions in Germany. The calendar is very full and if you are working full time as well you have no time to do it all. There are 52 weekends in a year and nearly half of them we spend on dancing. The other half goes on judging and teaching. There is no time for relaxing. If there was more competitions to attend like German ranking I don't know when we could dance them!

Do you like the fact that there are other competitors who are challenging you?

[Isabel] We like that there are couples who are dangerous to us!! Otherwise it would be boring (laughing). It would not be fun if you knew you would win.

[Andreas] I think it helps us to improve ourselves knowing that there are others challenging our position. It might be a bit more stressful dancing and knowing that other couples are strong but it is good.

Do you have a routine, do you prepare somehow before the competition?

[Isabel] Just before the competition we always do some Rumba basics. It lets us get the feeling about the competition, to get into it.

[Andreas] To feel the partner...

[Isabel] We also do some warming up

Who designs your costumes?

[Isabel] My dresses are from Helga Vollich. She has a shop Tanz Bazar near Cologne. The fabric and shoes are from DSI.

[Andreas] My trousers are made by DSI. We have some support from them.

Do you dance Ballroom sometimes?

[Isabel] No, not at all. I actually never danced it. I tried with another partner but then we split up and I've never did it again. We will have to take some Ballroom as we want to obtain the next level judging license. We currently hold a C class judging license and we want to have an A class. That requires minimum A class in Ballroom as well. You have to dance in A class. You also have to pass an exam, do the workshops and classes. And also we will be judged on judging (laughing) at the competition. It is very hard.

[Andreas] You judge the final and you have to correctly mark the first three couples. They do not have to be exactly the same places as other five judges placed them but you should not mark them as the last!

[Isabel] Passing an exam in Germany is not easy... You will have to explain every detail of how you judged and what you judged, for example a posture, a rhythm. The more you judge the easier it becomes of course.

So why do you want to be a judge? Is this what you see as your future?

[Andreas] You see, we like dance. After we cannot dance, maybe in five or six years, we can still be involved in dancing by judging.

[Isabel] I have some Youth couples in Cologne who I coach. I enjoy it very much. It is something I will do more after we retire.

So what is the difference between the Professional and Amateur couples in Germany? For instance, you are an Amateur couple as dancing is not your profession, but you also teach and judge.

[Isabel] Not much, it is just a change of status. I would say that only three top Professional couples in Germany earn their money through dancing.

So what may be a motivation for somebody to turn Professional?

[Isabel] The Professional competitions in Germany are smaller, not so many couples. You do not dance in sports halls. You have nice ball rooms, nice atmosphere... Perhaps their dancing is more towards art and presentation. Many couples do not have time to compete as much as Amateurs do and they may consider turning Professional because of that...

Would you consider turning Professional?

[Isabel] We talked about it, consider either Professional or Senior. First we said, never Senior (laughing)! But at the same time, there are only few Professionals, few competitions. And we wanted to be able to compete against many couples and dance in many competitions. In the Professional field you have to be exceptionally good to be in the top 6! And in Senior we could be World Champions (laughing)! We also could not sacrifice our work as we earn the money there.

Do your colleagues at work know that you dance?

[Isabel] The whole company knows! My boss is very proud.

We sometimes receive requests from dancers to remove their dancing photos or results from the website because of their work... Some claim it may create problems for them at work...

[Andreas] I do not understand that.

[Isabel] I imagine that some bosses may think that because the dancers have not enough holidays they actually fake illness so they can skip work and go to competitions... I always tell my boss about my competitions! I am never ill actually (laughing)

Well done again! Thank you for an interesting conversation

All photos taken by Peter Suba

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