Interview with Aimadi Zhang and Haoyue Jia

Interview with Aimadi Zhang and Haoyue Jia

Posted on Saturday, 08 Sep 2018, 20:27 by admin
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We talked to Aimadi Zhang and Haoyue Jia from China, the young winners of the Under 21 Latin championships at Blackpool 2018. They are also known as Mardy and Alissia. Their coach Andy Siyuan Liang helped with translation during the interview.

Dancing allows me to express myself, my emotions. And it should invoke emotions. Just like art is supposed to do.

Fantastic result. I hope you are pleased?

[Alissia]: Yes, of course we are very happy

I would like you to tell us how you started dancing?

[Alissia]: I started at eleven years old in a dance club. In China we have a special education, we go to the dancing school to learn how to become a professional dancer. I went to the dancing school in 2010. Mardy and I started to dance together in 2014. Before that we were in different schools.

So in the school you had another partner?

[Alissia]: Yes, of course, I had a lot of partners. Actually, this is my fourth time in Blackpool, but the first time I was with another partner. With Mardy, this is our third time in Blackpool. When we came here for the first time we got to the top 48 in Under 21.

So it is quite a jump from the top 48 to winning…

[Alissia]: But the second time we came, it was last year, we made the semi-final. It gave us a big confidence boost, it proved that our partnership worked. But this year, I cannot even believe it (laughing)! Unbelievable… It still feels like a dream.

I can see that you are very happy, but your partner looks more serious

[Alissia]: He can be serious. But once we start talking about dancing he can talk for hours. You know, China is very big, and the train journey from Beijing to Shanghai takes 4 or 5 hours. Mardy can talk for the entire time about one dance action! He is very serious about dancing.

Is he also so serious outside of dancing?

[Alissia]: He is very positive person. I used to be quite negative, pessimistic about my dancing, but he is always helping. He helped me a lot, also my coach helped.

Mardy, what do you think about your partner?

[Mardy]: First of all, the reason we won the competition is that I have a beautiful, wonderful partner. It was a fantastic result. Last year it was a semi-final, two years ago we did the top 48, and this year we won. We honestly did not expect it. It is an unbelievable result.

So when did you start dancing?

[Mardy]: I was about nine. I went to one of the big, major dance schools and it was a boarding school where kids get lessons and dance training in the same place. Normally you change partners a lot, but I only had one or two partners before Alissia.

So how did you feel when you won the Blackpool?

[Mardy]: There were only 2 Chinese couples in the quarterfinal and we started to feel the pressure. But, on the other hand, also excited. We wanted to get to the final, so we needed to push even harder for it. I honestly felt we could challenge for the final this year, even before we came here to Blackpool. So when we were called to the final, when it happened, I had only one thought: let's show the best of ourselves. We were not thinking about the result at that point, we wanted to enjoy our performance as much as possible and show it to the audience. To share the feeling, the emotions with everybody in the audience.

OK, I know good things about your partners, now tell us the bad things!

[Mardy]: She is a very straightforward girl and that means she doesn't think twice about things… Everything is simple for her. And she is a bit lazy with dancing (laughing). I would prefer her to be more active, more serious about practise. She can be moody as well.

I guess she is a real woman (laughing)

[Mardy]: Oh, yes. And a little bit crazy as well! That makes her different to many other Chinese girls. She is unique (laughing).

Are you together in private life as well?

[Alissia]: Yes, we are.

So Mardy, you should be careful about what you are saying (laughing)

[Alissia]: That's true. In private life he is a very caring person. He really cares about me, like, he brings me breakfast every day. But… in dancing he is totally different person. He is very tough for me, very demanding, very apodictic. I cannot talk to people during practice, it must be work, work, work. He is very business-like.

[Mardy]: When we practise I want both of us to take it seriously.

[Alissia]: I like to change things, but once we have a routine Mardy wants us to stick to what was agreed. Actually, he agrees I change it as long as I keep the same timing, the same distance, the same position (laughing).

So he is the boss in dancing. What about the private life?

[Alissia]: I am (laughing). We have a totally different dynamics in private life.

Do you live together?

[Alissia]: No. We both live at the school.

So you are in separate rooms?

[Alissia]: Yes, totally, what else can I say in front of our teacher (laughing)! It is actually beneficial for our education.

How often do you see your families?

[Alissia]: Not often, they are far away. We come from different parts of the country. Mardy is from Liaoning, the east of China and I am from the central. Last year I stayed with my family for six days only. But Mardy can see his mother every day, she is one of the teachers (laughing). Not a dance teacher, she teaches something else.

What else would you do if it wasn't dancing?

[Alissia]: I could do a lot of things! I would love to be an actress, or a singer even if I don't sing (laughing). I could be a business woman and run my own coffee shop. Or run a club…

Dancing club?

[Alissia]: No, if I was not dancing I wouldn't want anything to do with dancing.

[Mardy]: I cannot imagine I could do anything else. Dancing is very important to me. I love it.

What do you do outside of dancing?

[Mardy]: We have a normal school education.

[Alissia]: We have classes in other forms of dancing as well like ballet and modern...

But what do you do in your free time?

[Alissia]: I spend a lot of time on my phone. Playing games. My favourite is Candy Crush and I am past the level 2000 (laughing).

[Mardy]: I like motorbikes. She doesn't let me buy my own but my friend has one. But I don't have that much time. After school, and after practise, we need to work out in the gym…

Do you go on the internet to check results or news from dancing?

[Mardy]: Whenever we are in the UK, we spend a lot of time watching YouTube or on Facebook. In China it doesn't work.

Did you know our website before?

[Alissia]: Of course. I've searched for our photos and there are not many of us.

So you can access dancesportinfo in China?

[Alissia]: Yes, no problem.

What other dance websites are you visiting?

[Mardy]: Only dancesportinfo.

What about any Chinese websites?

[Mardy]: We do not have anything like that about dancing.

Why?

[Mardy]: There were a lot of private sites with some information but nothing like, say, formal organisation. We have WeChat…

I know WeChat. It is fantastic, you can do everything with one app.

[Mardy]: Yes, you can pay, even small money, with it, you can send money. You can talk, exchange information in it.

China is very different to Europe. What is the strangest thing for you in Europe?

[Alissia]: Food!

[Mardy]: Definitely food.

[Alissia]: And drinking water with ice. In China we drink hot water. Every day.

[Mardy]: Chinese medicine says we should not be taking drinks which lower the human body temperature. We drink warm water which is closest to the body temperature.

What about alcohol, is this the same principle?

[Mardy]: I do not drink alcohol. I don't like it. And I do not smoke.

So how is the food different?

[Alissia]: Always cold… Chinese food is always hot and smells good. Have you ever eaten Chinese hot pot? If I could I would eat it every day (laughing). I like spicy foods.

China is a big country, so the food in various parts of the country must differ as well?

[Mardy]: Yes, it is very different.

So when you say "Chinese" which part of the country do you mean?

[Mardy]: Her home town in Shaanxi province... It is the ancient capital of China, Xi'an, from where the Qin dynasty ruled. One king from that dynasty is the first ruler who united China, because before that there were many different states. It was over 2,000 years ago.

What are your plans for the nearest future?

[Alissia]: I still have to finish my education. I have 2 years left.

Is it like a university?

[Alissia]: Yes, we are students. After that we think we will stay and teach in our school.

So you do not have plans to go back home, to Xi'an?

[Alissia]: I want my family to move to Beijing. Better life, better perspectives.

Any private plans outside of dancing?

[Alissia]: I would love to travel

[Mardy]: Yes, I also would like to travel and see around the world. If I have time and money (laughing)

What would you like to change in dancing world?

[Mardy]: First of all dancing must remain an art. But many dancers think about it as a sport. Dancing allows me to express myself, my emotions. And it should invoke emotions. Just like art is supposed to do. I love the older generation dancers. There is feeling, there is emotion, and they dance from their heart. From them dancing is not just a movement, not just a sport.

So does winning matter?

[Mardy]: Not the most important thing. Anyway, I cannot control the results. Results come from the judges. I can control myself, my own performance. I feel that the result doesn't necessarily always reflect the quality of your performance. You might be placed second, but you are still a great dancer. The audience still loves you.

Which vote would matter more to you: judges or audience?

[Mardy]: Audience

[Alissia]: We care of how much we can touch the audience, how much we share with them.

[Mardy]: When we dance the competition we do not even check who the judges are. We see the judges standing on the floor, but we do not check the names.

When you watch other couples dancing, do you check their technical ability or you are only interested from artistic point of view?

[Alissia]: Of course technique is important because you need it to support your performance. But for me, the true, honest, from the bottom of your heart performance is what I am looking for. I want to feel your passion. When I watch you dancing, I want to feel I am taken by you.

[Mardy]: Obviously both artistic performance and technical ability are important. The dancer is an artist on the stage and the performance must be strong. So you need to show your artistic interpretation, but be strong technically as well.

How quickly your friends from your dance school got to know of you winning this competition?

[Mardy]: Within 5 minutes (laughing).

But it was a different time zone

[Mardy]: People could watch the DSI TV live if they wanted to.

[Alissia]: It was already morning in China.

So your family could watch as well. Did they call with congratulations?

[Alissia]: My mother and father did not want to disturb me. But in that week we won the competition it was my mother's birthday.

Nice present! Thank you very much for the conversation.

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