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Interview with Emanuel and Tania

Emanuel Valeria and Tania Kehlet 1We are happy to present to you an interview with Emanuel and Tania, This amateur standard couple represents Denmark and has been placing 1st or 2nd in almost every event they enter for the last few years including Blackpool, the International Championships, the German Open, and many more!

Here follows the interview....

How did you two meet and how long have you been dancing together?
- We have danced together for 11 years now. We started together because our teacher William Pino, who at the time was aleady Emanuel's main teacher, was travelling to Denmark to teach sometimes and had meet Tania there. Emanuel was without partner when Tania split with her previous danish partner and William asked if Tania would like to move to Italy to dance. After a short tryout we decided that we were meant to dance together....

As a couple you seem to have a great sense of musicality. What do you do to develop this in your practice?
- Yes, music is VERY important for us!!! Music came before it was even thought to make dancing!!! We feel very lucky to have been raised by some of the most musical teacher in the World and through them musicality has always been one of our main focus. Especially the Great Oliver Wessel Therhorn had a great influence on us in this direction. In our daily practise we try to use lots of different kinds of music. When we put on a piece of music we don't just use it as background noise (which is often the case) while practising, but we choose to do a piece to that music trying to dance each accent of the music with different parts of our bodies. We also sometimes have fun practising to "non dancing music" and through that develop our ears to be more aware...

How do you structure your practice so you are most effective with your time?
- It depends a bit in which period before a big competition it is... Normally we always make a plan for each practise. Sometimes offcourse we have so many things that we want to do and the time never seem to be enough and therefore we try to plan and prioritise the different things we want to focus on in order to keep the improvement going all the time... Sometimes we make practise plans for longer periods and sometimes we make it day by day. It depends... We are both very effective people so we hardly ever loose time when practising. We now want we want to achieve and just keep the eye on the goal...

How do you express the character of the Tango
- The special thing about the tango is that it is a latin dance! Sometimes people forget this... It is a dance which should be filled with atmosphere and drama between the man and the lady. Because of its latin american origin it is also the most dynamic dance and the dynamics and isolation of bodyparts allows the two persons to express the history of the dance very clearly compared to the other more classical dances... In our opinion a Tango must be filled with passion in all its versions. This is what makes it the Tango!!

As a partnership you seem to have a great Man/Woman dynamic that appears more equal . How did you develop this and what is your system for communicating?

- It is something that has developed slowly throughout our career. We have always been very aware of lead and follow. We have a believe that everything in dancing should be "real". Many times today couples are so focused on having fixed routines, that the real meaning of lead and follow get a bit lost. We of course also have routines and step combinations, but we do not have fixed routines. Many people often say to us that we dance different steps in different competitions and this is actually true. We have done hundreds of dances in competitions where Emanuel has danced ONLY freestyle during the whole dance. From a very young age we were very aware of the fact that we wanted to become "free" on the competition floor. We wanted to find a way where we could both express ourselves freely according to the music which we would get. Only this way did we feel that we could get real emotion out on the dance floor.

Emanuel Valeri and Tania Kehlet 2Tania, the girls are wanting to know how you incorporate your own dancing into the partnership? What do you think of the ladies role in general? There is always some concern among ladies about following vs being active. How do you balance this?
- It is really not an easy question to answer, but generally I believe that a girl can not be too active. She can be active in the wrong way, but if on the other hand the activity is placed in the right body parts and the right time it is for a great advantage and joy for most men. I think the best way to express it in words is by comparing it to a conversation. In conversation you can have three ways of communicating:
1) Monolog... This is the old fashioned way of ballroom dancing, where only the man is speaking/doing and the lady is passive/listening to everything he is doing by just following everything like a mirror. No personal opinion and no individuality.
2) Duolog... This is what many boys/girls are afraid of when starting to learn to have an active girl. Duolog is when Emanuel in the beginning of our career Emanuel would speak to me in italian and I would answer him back in danish. He could be speaking about the natural turn and I could be telling him to get a haircut. Due conversations which has nothing to do with each other!!! This you often see in young dancers when the girl is just trying to be active without first having learnt to relate it to the man properly and to use the activity as an added value. Also often the man will just be doing the actions without even trying to feel what the lady wants to do on the other side... It goes both ways!
3) Dialog... This is what we are trying to achieve in our dancing. In this case there should be a natural rhythm between the two people talking and listening!!! Of course the man is ALWAYS leading the STEPS. The dialog of the man and the woman is what happens after the actual step has been lead. The man is the director of the conversation but he has to sometimes take the time to listen to the body of the lady to feel in what way she chooses to answer him... In our world this is when dancing becomes magic...! And for me as a woman I also feel I can but my input into our dance...

Emanuel, what is your role? How do you think about being a great leader?
- I think that a great leader is one who is able to keep the control of the situation (lead the couple in whatever step, accent, shape I want) while still making the other part feel great and expressive... I believe that without a great and active lady the mans job becomes heavy and boring... Of course everyone is different but for me it would be boring if every day would be the same. I feel different every day, Tania feels different every day, and therefore also our dancing should change accordingly... The fun is to teach your body to be able to react to every situation. Of course you can not do any of this without great technique and YEARS of practising all the basic principles. In the end of the day you create your style on top of the piles of technic which has been past on for generations... We are very grateful to have had great teachers that has trained us so that we today can allow ourselves to enjoy what we do...

What keeps you inspired? Who keeps you inspired?
- The passion for dance keeps us inspired...! We love it!!! We love going to theaters, concerts etc. Anything related to music and dance inspires us... Whenever we have the change we go out to see wonderful shows of different kinds. We can get inspired by lots of different things... But deep in our biggest inspiration is creating! We just love what we do!!!

Is there anything that you do outside of dancing  (such as yoga) to enhance your dancing? What about diet?
- Tania do a lot of ballet training. When we are home she does ballet almost every day before going to practise. We both do gym, running etc, but our main activity is practise in the studio. We have diets that we try to follow sometimes and we are of course aware of what we eat, but we also want to live and sometimes we let go and enjoy life and food. haha :)

How do you decide on a competitive look? Tania, how do you come up with your amazing hairstyles? Do you help design your dresses?
- It is different. I design all my dresses myself and I have always liked designing. I have made also a couture collection for Chrisanne and as you probably now I also launched a practise wear collection in August. I get ideas from lots of things. Fashion, art etc...

What do you feel is most important for couples to focus on early in their careers?
- Practise!!!! haha :-) They should practise technic, steps etc. but it is also very important to find the fun. The career is long and it is extremely important to find the fun in what we are doing!!! Otherwise couples will give up, when it gets tough...

Emanuel Valeri and Tania Kehlet Blackpool