Interview with Petar Daskalov and Zia James

Interview with Petar Daskalov and Zia James

Posted on 星期四, 04 12月 2014, 16:57 by admin
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We talked to Petar Daskalov and Zia James, the winners of Amateur Rising Star Latin competition of Blackpool Dance Festival 2014. Petar and Zia dance for England. They met us the next day after the won that event, before they took part in the Amateur Latin few days later.

You don't ever blame the judges, you don't ever blame the other couples, you make sure you come back home and improve.

Congratulations! Another English couple won the Blackpool event this year.

[Zia]: Yes, we are very happy

[Petar]: And yet another couple from England stands a chance – in Professional Latin

Yes, of course, very likely. OK, let's start with the usual question. How did you start dancing, where did you start dancing, why did you start dancing? (laughing)

[Zia]: My parents, Colin and Lina James, actually never wanted me to dance because they said they have been dancing all their lives and they have gone through the ups and downs of that. I have a twin sister. My parents never wanted neither of us to do the same. They wanted us to live our own lives and have our own dreams. I was born in England and when we lived there I tried different kind of activities. I tried ballet, and we also tried other things like tennis, horse riding, swimming. We tried everything possible for us not to dance.

However, when I was about eight years old, my parents decided that we have to move back to Denmark. So we moved to Denmark. We had very good friends there who owned a dance school in the town we moved to. It was quite natural that we would go there to do a bit of dance. I started dancing there with my sister. The owners of the dance school found two brothers and we had then to dance with. My sister got the older one and I got the younger one. This way we never competed against each other. We danced for three or four years with these partners. I was still a Juvenile but Danish Youth champion at the time, Morten Löwe, asked me to dance with him. I had never even dance Junior before! So my parents said, no. They said they had to guide him in the best possible way because he was a very talented dancer and they wanted him to succeed so they said I was not good enough and they did not allow me.

Must have hurt you?

[Zia]: That went on for about four maybe six months. Luckily Morten kept on pushing and in the end we started dancing together. It really started it off for me because we had a lot of success in the Under 21 and ...

How old were you then?

[Zia]: I was twelve years old when we started to dance together. He was about eighteen. It was a challenge but I was up for it. Very quickly we had a lot of success in Denmark and then in England. Later we also won the Under 21 Latin in Blackpool. So that how it all started for me. Then I think I went through a confusion period a little bit. I stopped dancing with Morten. We were together for about five years and it was difficult to find a new partner...

Why confusion?

[Zia]: I was quite upset with the split. It was a mutual decision and we agreed that we are not right for each other anymore. I had grown up of course. I had stared to have a vision of what I wanted and he had another idea. And we did not fit together anymore. I had all this success and I wanted to continue this success but I did not really know how to make it all work, who to dance with, where to go... So I went through a number of different partnerships trying to find what was right for me and what made me happy... It is difficult to find a partner with your kind of vision and that your dreams to be the same, and the same ideas how to get there. It went for three, maximum five years. And then last year, after Blackpool, I split with my last partner and again I did not know what to do. I was still in that confusion period. Petar had been in the club where I am in Denmark for quite a few years and shown a quite a bit of interest over the years that he has been there so I thought we better have a chat before I go off to find somebody else to dance with! Petar was in the same club in Denmark, trained by my parents, it would be stupid if we did not speak before I went to search for a new partner.

OK, what about you Petar?

[Petar]: My father was, by education, a ballet dancer and a choreographer as well, both for the ballet and folk dance. He had his own dance studio in Dobrich, one of the biggest ones in Bulgaria at that time. I was not older that four years old and I thought that it is cool that Daddy is a big name. I loved to be with him all the time. Actually I still have a very good connection with both my parents. So I wanted to be around him all the time and he brought me to practice all the time. But he never really wanted me to dance. I think I was about four years old, when one day on practice when everyone was lined up, I went up there and started with the students. He stopped the practice and looked and said, what are you doing there? I said, I want to learn! And he said to me, you cannot do it, you have to leave. He actually kicked me out (laughing). I did not come back to dancing for another two years or so. When I was maybe six years old the same story repeated but I actually said to him, I want to stay and I want to learn like all of the others. So this is the first time I started learning some dancing. From then on I went through some ballet and some Bulgarian national dances. I still actually do warm up with the ballet exercises.

When I was eight years old my Dad thought that Latin American dancing is really exciting and something that he has not been through. But he thought that this was really something really exciting and he turned the whole club to the Ballroom and Latin dancing club. So this is when I started and got the first partner. She was from the same town. At the time there were many talented dancers in Bulgaria but it wasn't that easy to get up there and win the competition straight away. We danced together until Junior I. When I got my next partner I moved to another town, to Varna, in Bulgaria and got a different teacher to help with the choreography. Of course, we had my Dad helping all the way trough. That teacher was Atanas Gendov. It was weird, because he competed against us yesterday (laughing). He helped me and he actually brought me to the real dancing. I danced with that girl, his student, for two years. We had quite a lot of success but we did not compete in England much because Bulgaria was not connected to WDC system. So couples from Bulgaria did not go to the competitions like Blackpool, even Junior Blackpool at the time. It was Atanas who introduced me to these competitions. I knew they existed but the team from Bulgaria never went there. We split and I changed partner. The new girl was a very hard working girl. My Dad wanted me to have somebody who we could work together with. And he found this girl, she was very little. I though at the beginning it won't work because she was only up to my shoulders. But it did work. The height difference was evened out through a clever choreography. It worked.

Did you dance Ballroom as well?

[Petar]: No, I stopped Ballroom after my first partner. I did only Latin. The funny thing is that at the beginning I was actually better in Ballroom than Latin.

[Zia]: Me too (laughing)

[Petar]: So, with this girl Elena we made IDSF World Junior Latin final. Till then, nobody did it for Bulgaria, so it was quite a big thing. In our first year in Youth we did not really have much success. I grew a little bit more and the height difference was way too big and we could not compensate anymore. We could still dance Junior Blackpool and made the final. The year later we danced the "big" Blackpool and we were out in the first round in both Under21 and Rising Stars. It was quite a weird experience. I enjoyed every second of it, that's for sure. But it was weird because I felt I did not dance enough. I wanted to dance more! But did not have the chance. Now looking at myself, I can see how much I grown. Five years ago I was out in first round, look at me now (laughing). After that we dance the International and were out of there in the first round too. At the time we worked with Tone Nyhagen and Karen Smith and they told us, you are simply not for each other. And we agreed. There was no drama, we are still friends to this day. So this is how my dancing life in Bulgaria finished because there was no one left I could dance with. I did not have a partner for a year or so. I had trials but nothing worked.

So I wrote to this Danish girl if she wanted to try. She was a ten dancer and a year younger than me, but I still wrote to her as we knew each other before. She replied that they are splitting with her partner so I thought we had a chance. I went to Denmark in December 2010, had a try-out, decided to give it a go, and in January had our first competition. We danced for three years and I have to say that from the first moment I had a group lesson with Lina in Denmark, I knew it was a place for me. I wanted to be there with these teachers. I also had friends in Aarhus because Ina Jeliazkova and Troels were there. I knew Ina from before, she is Bulgarian. And also, another guy Zhivko Ivanov was there. So it was easy for me to connect with people there. I our first year we had nice results, we made final of the IDSF World Youth Latin and next year the final of the Under 21 in Blackpool and the International. So we had good results in England but when we split up we did not really had amazingly good results in the WDSF competitions. It was also very difficult to keep it up in the partnership because, and we talked about it, she did not want to do dancing for living. And I really want to. And it didn't look that big of a deal, but it made me think where we are really going with that. And it came a moment when I just decided this is it, and I don't want to continue with it. I had periods of time when I was not sure I wanted to be in Denmark or not, because situation was difficult sometimes. But it came a point after Under 21 in Blackpool when I decided this is it. We split in September last year, and I did not really had an idea what is going to happen. I just needed to break it. Luckily Zia did not have a partner yet so she contacted me. The funny thing is that the year she won the Under 21 in Blackpool, it was the same year I was out in the first round (laughing). And I thought this sixteen year old girl, she is amazing, and it would be a dream to dance with her one day. It was a dream coming true for me. And the fact she had all these different partners through the years it was stimulation for me to prove myself to her. It finally happened.

[Zia]: Also, the funny thing is, when I was in that kind of confusion period when I was with these different kind of partners trying to make it all work, this was the time when Petar was in Denmark. Because he danced with these other Danish girl.

[Petar]: Hold on, I wrote to you before

[Zia]: But the thing was, after that Under 21 when you came to dance with Christine and you contacted me via facebook to ask if I wanted a try-out. But at the time I had no idea who you were. I don't even remember if I answered. Basically nothing happened because I had no idea who Petar was. And then Petar come to Denmark to dance, I found a Polish partner to dance with, and we met for the first time there. But it was too late because I made a commitment and he made a commitment. So that was it. We got to know each other because we have been in the same club, practising next to each other every day, doing group lessons and evening practices together. But we never spoke to each other about possibility of dancing together until September last year.

It is early days of your career so it is difficult to ask about your experiences together. What was your first competition?

[Zia]: In Canada.

[Petar]: I was invited, with my previous partner, to the private competition in Canada and I had to do it. So we put the choreography together and in one month we flew to Canada to do the competition.

[Zia]: Because it was a prior commitment.

[Petar]: The next one was the British Nationals.

[Zia]: It was also in Blackpool. It was really a first real one for us.

So at the time you have decided to represent England? Why? You met in Denmark.

[Zia]: Yes, and we live in Denmark. It is a bit confusing. Because my dancing life started in Denmark, and I danced with Danish boy, it was natural we represented Denmark. But when the separation between WDSF and WDC happened, it became a bit difficult. My Mum, who is a national trainer for Denmark, is naturally in WDSF. She is the main teacher and the Team Denmark is under WDSF. So it is not great if the daughter is in the competing association. So it got a bit mixed up. So I made the decision, a hard decision because I want to be in Denmark and I have the practice facilities and my Mum too to teach. So I decided to represent England so there won't be any confusion with my Mum teaching somewhere and me being in somewhere else. On the other hand I felt it did not really matter because my Dad is English so I guess I am as much English as I am Danish. And I was born in England anyway. We can also dance in the British Closed competitions. I phoned them and asked because I have a Danish passport but they said no problem as long as I have the English birth certificate which I have of course.

Many other Danish dancers prefer to represent Denmark, even if they could dance for another country having a partner from that country, because Denmark has a fantastic support.

[Petar]: It used to ...

[Zia]: It still does.

[Petar]: If you want to be supported you cannot dance any WDC competitions. With my previous partner we mainly danced WDSF, and we did Blackpool only. We were “not advised” to dance the English competitions. More the separation between the two federations, more Danish couples go to the WDSF side. If you want to be with WDC even if you represent Denmark you don't get any support.

[Zia]: Because the association is built on something called Team Denmark. The support lays within the Team Denmark. It support good couples financially. You get the certain amount of money every year I think. When the foreign teacher comes to Denmark you also get a discounted price. The Team Denmark system filters down to the school system. So the school recognises that you belong to the Team Denmark so they will understand and support you not attending all the lessons, or have exams in another time or have less homework set. It is like that for all kind of sports. It does help quite a lot.

So it would make a lot of sense to stay with Team Denmark

[Zia]: We don't have a lot of money and we have to also make financials choices what we can do and what we cannot do at the moment but we decided if we want to dance we need to like it, have fun with it and be happy with what we do. And if we are happy to dance a competition like UK Open or Blackpool or the International, if that's what we enjoy doing, that it what we have to do. So we must do less competitions, have maybe not so many dresses a year, or fewer lessons, whatever it might be, as long as we enjoy what we do. So it was our priority.

[Petar]: There was no doubt what to choose.

[Zia]: When we started to dance together we were quite clear that English competitions are important to us so that is what we chose.

Zia, did the fact that everybody knows who your parents are and, since you were a kid you had access to the top teachers, helped you or not? And the fact that problems between your parents has become known in the dancing world, was it a problem for you?

[Zia]: It is an interesting point. I actually discussed it with the other competitors too because I often heard, of course you have good results because of your parents! It was frustrating to listen to them because it meant that I had no value in what I did. I never wanted it to be like that.

But you don't choose who your parents so...

[Zia]: Exactly. So I always wanted to practise hard to show my own value. Perhaps, having famous parents, may help when you are dancing first rounds.

Familiar faces get noticed on the floor?

[Zia]: Yes. You are noticed on the floor and it might actually help you in the first rounds. But I think when you get higher it doesn't matter whether they know you or not because I still believe that the judges mark what they think and what they like. And just because I may know them they not necessarily like my dancing or think that I am better than somebody else.

What about outside of the actual competition? In life, in the preparations?

[Zia]: It is a huge help. It is the best thing for me because, for example the preparations, my parents were through it themselves. They know what to say, they know what not to say to me. They know how it feels. Also, during the competition, they know how it feels, they know how to be there for you and help. I think just the fact that they were through it, they know you can get nervous, floor can be slippery, whatever it is, they have an understanding towards it. They can advise what to do. They are parents and teachers so I know they will be there whatever happens. So it is a huge help without a doubt.

You mentioned that they know what NOT to say? What is it then?

[Zia]: Well, everybody is different. Me and Petar are also different in that sense too. I remember one of my parents' teacher would come up after their round in Blackpool and say, you look a bit tired today, are you tired? But they were not tired, but a bit nervous maybe so this question actually added another factor to their stress. So my parents know me and my reactions and they are good in saying things which can calm me down...

[Petar]: They know how to approach you. Also, you can feel that they are very experienced and they actually do know their couples and personalities behind. They know how to cope with each them. We are very different during the competition but they can even it out and just help as much as possible for it all to go smoothly.

How different you are? Who is more nervous?

[Zia]: I am nervous. He is calm. I try to stay as calm as possible but I do get nervous and then I go very quiet. I may even look a bit angry and closed in. I am not very open. It might also come across to him as I am being upset or angry with something. And that's when my Mum comes into the picture.

[Petar]: She chats with you, makes a joke.

[Zia]: Yes, starts taking about something not dancing. It is good. But my Dad comes to Petar and gives him a clap, or makes him to run in the spot or something like that.

[Petar]: It is a motivation part (laughing). Generally, Zia is a lot more nervous during the competition. In case Lene or Colin are not there it is easy to feel a tension between us. We actually did not have a fight but something may go wrong.

Sparks fly?

[Petar]: Yes, it can go wrong in a split second. We are learning now different ways to cope with it but I know that if Colin and Lene are there, there won't be any problems. They are going to take care of both of us. I am much calmer and I try to stay on top of things all the way through the competition. If something is bothering me I don't show it at all. I like being on my own, with nobody disturbing me, or talking, unless I want them to (laughing). We are different for sure, Zia would like to warm up together for example, but I can do it for myself and go on the floor just like that.

[Zia]: This was something we did with my Dad in Denmark, at a preparation camp. He said maybe it would be a good idea for all the couples in the camp, to have a short talk with their partners, doesn't matter if you are a new partnership or together for many years as you can still learn about the other person. So have a short talk and learn how they react, or what they like at the competition, like do you want to be there two hours before the comp, or do you like not so long, or do you like to warm up or not, all these kind of small things when you can misunderstand each other all the time.

[Petar]: All these small things can spark the fight or irritate. So we actually had this kind of conversation as silly as it sounds! (laughing) This is actually very Danish, we made a plan what each of us is going to do. So for instance, I made a plan that I will come before the first round and warm up together with Zia.

[Zia]: Or if you need help with the make-up make sure I am ready first and I can help after.

[Petar]: For example, I know there is going to be 20 minutes break between the rounds so I need to let her sort herself out first and then ask her for help. But not before because it is going to stress her. These are all small things but I know, in the end, it all makes a difference. It is the worst thing when people work all this year preparing for this one competition in Blackpool and they ruin it for themselves in the most stupid way because they start fighting or something like that. So we could not let that happen.

Aha, I see. So Petar you are saying that you have to change your practise style to what she likes and change your other behaviours because she likes that better? (laughing)

[Zia]: You made me sound like some kind of spoilt princess (laughing)

[Petar]: It is just few little things, so it is fine. I can compromise as long as it gets me where I want in the end (laughing).

[Zia]: We also agreed during that camp, that I am not a leader type and I am happy with following. I don't really lead the way. Petar is a very strong character. I am fine he leads the way and I follow and we have a very clear agreement that whatever happens on the floor or off the floor he decides and I follow. I am happy with that.

[Petar]: This is the freedom that she gives me. This is what makes me more confident because I would like to be the leader and I think I am naturally a born leader (laughing).

Zodiac Aries?

[Zia]: Yes, he is. And I am Pisces.

[Petar]: She doesn't judge my decisions. For instance, when we are caught in the middle of the group of couples on the floor she doesn't say, why did you put us there. This doesn't happen. Or, if I decide to change the choreography for some reason, floor craft or get out of trouble or whatever reason, she actually stimulates me to lead. She is a great follower. I know she is going to be there and it doesn't matter what I decide to do or how spontaneous I happen to be.

Sounds fantastic

[Petar]: Yes, this is what I mean.

[Zia]: So he can give up on the little things like warming up together

[Petar]: Yes, this is my compromise to her for this (laughing)!

I am going to ask a dreaded question now: what is wrong with your partner then? And remember, whatever you say, can be used against you later (laughing)!

[Zia]: The first thing which went through my mind is that the worst quality of that person can also be their best quality. I admire Petar for that he is strong in whatever he does. He has certain principles he goes by and he doesn't vary from that. He sticks to what he wants to do. However this can also be a problem because we are in the partnership. I try to be open but he can be so strong in what he wants that sometimes I feel I have no say.

Is he stubborn?

[Zia]: Very stubborn.

[Petar]: It is typical for my Zodiac sign (laughing)

[Zia]: In that sense he can be difficult. Because I also want to have a say or an opinion or I want to do things in a certain way. I think it is difficult for him to remember that other people can be different and want to do things another way! So I am sure, thanks' to that strait of character he can achieve whatever he wants to achieve but in the partnership situation you have to work together with somebody.

[Petar]: I am sure that she feels that sometimes talking to me is like banging your head on the wall. No matter what she says it is not going to make a difference! (laughing). OK, but it is my turn now. Weirdly enough, however stubborn I am, I never really been fighting with partners. Both of us, we are strong characters, we both know what we want, and we strangely somehow fit together. The biggest thing for me with Zia is when the frustration comes and when she gets nervous. It can be in life, when things go wrong, or not to plan. It doesn't matter what, but when the stress happens, she gets a bit of a panic attack. This is something I cannot deal with. I try and sometimes I can get the things calm down, but if it doesn't go well, I just pass it on to Lene.

[Zia]: Yes (laughing)

[Petar]: This is how we deal with it. I hand her over to Lene.

[Zia]: In a sense, you are very laid back as a person while I am more of a control freak. So I do all the planning, I arrange everything, we have our daily routine and I try to get all the things to fit together.

It sounds contradicting to what you said about yourself earlier, Zia, that you are a follower type.

[Zia]: I am happy for Petar to make decision, but once agree something I want to stick with it. We agree for example with my Mum first what cloths we want to wear for Blackpool. And then he says, oh, this is not going to work, where am I going to get this etc. But I say, don't worry, I will take care of this, I will make it happen. I have no idea how I am going to make it happen but I say, leave it all to me and it will be fine. And then I run off to make it done.

[Petar]: She is more practical

[Zia]: I take care of the practical side. I organise things.

[Petar]: I make the decisions, she is the worker!

Who designs your dresses?

[Zia]: My Mum is. I have some ideas what I would like but she has the final say.

I understand that Zia takes care of organising trips or hotels?

[Petar]: Yes, she does it all. I actually never booked a flight.

[Zia]: Never in his life

[Petar]: Never. It has either been my Mum, or my partner, or my partner's Mum.

So you let women take care of you then?

[Petar]: You can say that (laughing)!

[Zia]: He is more of an artist. He gets inspired by things, he dances, but there is not a lot of practicality there. This is where the Danish part of me is very strong. You can be the artist and I try to make things happen. If he is good, everything is good, and I can take care of all the little details.

How do you cope financially with dancing?

[Zia]: It is a good question

[Petar]: It is probably going to sound ridiculous when we say it.

[Zia]: I heard a lot from other people, oh it must be easy for me because your parents earn money from teaching and they have a lot, so you can just hang around all day and you do nothing because you can just get what you want. But I paid for everything myself. I also think that I at my age I should be able to pay for everything. Which makes it difficult. What we do for money, is we clean houses. We start the day with cleaning private houses in the rich areas of our town. After that we go and have some lunch and do some practise. My Mum owns a social dance school, there are about 2000 kids in that school. So naturally the school needs to be cleaned every day, so we go there and we start there at 10 o'clock every night and we do cleaning for about an hour or two.

So you don't work as teachers there?

[Petar]: Very rarely

[Zia]: If we do, we celebrate for a week because it is such a good money for us (laughing).

[Petar]: It is not because we charge so much for a lesson, but because we finally do what we want to do. We finally earn money from dancing because this is what we both want to do in the future.

[Zia]: We don't want to clean houses for the rest of our lives!

[Petar]: That's for sure.

[Zia]: Denmark is a very small country and we don't have that many dancers there. In comparison to the many Easter countries we are lucky because Denmark is a rich country. So people actually do have money to pay for certain lessons and there are so many good teachers in Denmark that kids want to have the best. So their parents don't mind paying because they want to have the best. So basically there are too many great teachers and too few couples for us to get actually any work in the dancing industry.

[Petar]: As Zia said, there are not so many dancers there but most of them can afford the best teachers. Being in one club together with Lene, Martino and Michelle, Peter and Kristina Stokkebroe it is a little bit difficult for us to get a student! (laughing). Sometimes some of these teachers may say to the couple that they don't have to pay so much money in order to rehearse and may try Petar and Zia because they going to give the same information for less money. But we don't get teaching often.

[Zia]: We cannot at all depend on work by teaching.

Your father, Zia, has a successful dance school in Poland and elsewhere...

[Zia]: Yes, I guess. But for my mother and father my sister and I are children and they don't talk to us about the financial situation. Definitely my father is very English in that sense. They want us to be independent. When they lived in England and were Amateurs they did not have much money either because my grandparents are not rich really. So they said they went through rough times, and it made them stronger. It made them appreciate what they achieved. The most important lesson they want us to learn is that we have to do the same. They don't want to give it all to us. When we go off cleaning in the morning or come back late at night and my Mum is in bed already, she thinks it is OK because we should work for it too. And I think it is true.

It is quite sensible...

[Zia]: We knew Blackpool is going to be very expensive for us, we would have to pay the rents, and phone bills, and entry fees are expensive as well. So knowing that, and to show you why I get stressed, I tried to take extra cleaning, agree to all the extra work to prepare for it. More money would pay for one more meal, one more day. So I said yes to everything and of course, it made us more stressed and quite tired also because we did not sleep much. But standing on the floor yesterday, winning, made it all worthwhile. My parents kept an eye on me, asked if I had eaten because I can easily skip a meal or two to save a bit of money and I knew they would be there for me and would help if it was needed.

But your ambition is to do it all on your own?

[Zia]: Of course!

[Petar]: It should be important for every young person to be proud that they did not go and ask Mummy and Daddy for everything but achieved it all by themselves. It makes you feel proud of yourself.

Are you together in private life as well?

[Zia]: Yes, we are.

How does the private life influence your dancing and vice versa?

[Zia]: Of course, we have not been together for that long time. We don't live together. I live with my Mum to save money and Petar has a college accommodation. It is one room but cheaper that anything else. We are together all the time because I go and pick Petar up in the morning and we go work and clean, then practise and all that. In the evening I drop him off. So we are together all the time but we don't have much time together as a couple. Which is why we are both looking forward to our summer holiday to have some time off. So sometimes it doesn't necessarily feel that we are together as a couple.

[Petar]: You wake up in the morning, and from that moment you have the day planned. You stick to the schedule to be able to fit everything in. you go to practise and try to be focused there. You don't have time to be in love and date. It is very rare we have a time off together.

[Zia]: The last time we went to the cinema together was in February for my birthday.

[Petar]: Something like that. But if anything, I think it helps us. It doesn't influence our dancing in a bad way. Knowing somebody well helps the partnership work better. We happen to be good enough to each other as well.

[Zia]: And we communicate. We agree on many things before hands. I think we are quite good at communicating. Petar is very good in sensing if I am getting a bit stressed about something or very tired from working every day. He is very good at trying to calm me. The nicest thing with being in a relationship with the partner you dance with is that you can share your experiences. Both good and bad ones. But with somebody you really care about. It was nice yesterday to get the result and be happy together through the success we achieved and share it with somebody you really care.

I have seen you yesterday. I think saying that you were happy was an understatement. You were rather ecstatic!

[Zia]: Yes!

[Petar]: You dream all your life about this particular moment. And the moment comes and it is not even a release because you are so overwhelmed with it. You don't know how to react. I remember when I lifted her up she was shaking in my arms. She was so happy. She could not stop shaking (laughing).

[Zia]: You dream about it, but when you are there you don't know how to behave. You cannot believe it is true that it actually happened.

[Petar]: We are still in this state that we did not fully realised it has happened. Especially as the competition continues for us.

[Zia]: I am very competitive by nature. So I cannot help myself, cannot be just happy and let myself relax. We had a meal and came back, and I stood in front of Petar and said we have to stay focused, we still have not finished Blackpool.

[Petar]: And I am like, come on, give me a moment! Give me one moment of joy!

So you have not started analysing the marks?

[Zia]: Oh no, I don't care

[Petar]: That would kill me.

[Zia]: If you asked me who judged yesterday I have no idea. I think all comes a little bit from my upbringing because my parents always told me whoever is judging you respect them. If you don't get the results what you necessarily think, it is just because you are not good enough. You don't ever blame the judges, you don't ever blame the other couples, you make sure you come back home and improve. It not about checking the marks. I just make sure that I dance my best and if they like it, I win.

[Petar]: It is quite simple.

Many dancers believe that in order to win a competition like Blackpool they have to take the lessons with all the judges first.

[Zia]: We did not. And that really doesn't even cross my mind. Whether I think it is true or not, it doesn't matter because we are in this kind of financial situation now, that it is simply not possible.

[Petar]: With the hand on my heart I can say that we did not even have one lesson with any English teacher apart from Lina and James.

[Zia]: We get about 9-10 pounds for one hour of cleaning so you can imagine how many hours we have to clean just to be here for a week and pay for food, hotel, the entry fees and for our costumes.

[Petar]: We can stay in Zia's Dad flat for few days which is the great help, only if we come for competition. So after the competition we will stay there for a day or two to have some rest. But we would not fly here just to do that.

[Zia]: Because that way we would be losing work in Denmark and we cannot afford that. We are happy to live in Denmark as we do not pay for the lessons with my parents. So we have two to four lessons a week with my Mum because she is based in Denmark of course. She also follows our practice so she is very much the main teacher for us. If my Dad happens to be in Denmark, or if we see him in England, we have some lessons but apart from that we pay for everything. We would love to expand our team a little more.

[Petar]: To experience teaching as well

[Zia]: We have talked between each other how much we would like to try it. So we agreed, that as long as we can stay focused on our dancing and improving, and as long as our results show that improvement and somebody would like to have lessons with us we would like to start teaching.

Maybe now, as Blackpool winners, you can get that?

[Zia]: Maybe we could start getting more work through it. And maybe that opens more opportunities to get more lessons for ourselves as well. Right now, we have to take one thing at them time.

[Petar]: We really believe, and that's why we chose this federation, that here in Blackpool the best couples win. We don't want any political lessons, we don't want to have fifteen teachers and end up with a big mess of a whole load of information from different people. So when we decided that I asked myself, do I really believe it, or am I trying to fool myself because we don't have any money to do it (laughing). But apparently it is true. There are now, are have been in the past, couples who did not have such lessons and have had success here. So it is about being the best on the day!

[Zia]: It is a great thing to know. Years ago when I won the Under 21 I did not have any lessons with anybody on that panel. And this time, we did not get any lessons either. So it is a nice thing to know, because there are so many rumours in the dance world, that if you stick to making your dancing good that this is what is it all about. Of course you can be unlucky. There are many excuses. But I don't like that. If you have a bad result it is much better to blame yourself however tough it might be.

It is easier to put a blame on something else

[Petar]: We are both very down to the ground and we know that we can always improve. Blaming something may work for you one day, but you cannot do that all the time, it simply cannot be possible that you are always unlucky. You need to take responsibility. It makes you stronger.

Thank you very much and good luck for the future!

All photos taken on the day by Peter Suba