We talked to the winners of Amateur Ballroom event in Blackpool, husband and wife Andrea Ghigiarelli and Sara Andracchio, the next day after their victory. Andrea and Sara are Italian but they represent England now. They announced turning Professional on that night they won the Blackpool title. See their profile page
Coordination, musicality and movement. I think our style comes from concentrating on these three factors
Congratulations! We had an interview with you last year and it was very short because you had to leave early. Hopefully we will have more time today. I remember from the previous time that you are an exceptional couple. You dance together for 21 years?
[Andrea and Sara] Now it is 22 years!
Isn't it incredible? Quite often people are changing partners very frequently. I really admire that in you. I also remember that you told us you had the same coach for so many years. It is very encouraging to see such a stable couple, both in dancing and in life. You have recently got married, haven't you?
I will try not to repeat the questions we asked you before. People can go and read the previous interview. Please tell us about your current dancing. You have recently switched to represent England and till yesterday England had a fantastic Amateur couple and since today it is Professional, isn't it? I remember you said before that you did not plan to turn Professional so soon?
[Sara] We decided to turn Professional simply because we have won Blackpool now three times and this was our dream for a long time. We wanted this since we were little kids. Blackpool was always in our thoughts. So, I think, we reached our goal and we felt it was a right moment to become Professional.
[Andrea] We felt it was a right time also because we wanted to start our new life with a right feeling and right atmosphere. We just joined that exclusive, small club of couples who won Blackpool three times. I think we are the fifth couple in the whole world who achieved that. We talked to each other before the competition that if we win we will announce our decision on that night.
[Sara] I can tell you that the couple feels when it is time to turn Professional. Because it is a change, a change to the way you practise, a change to the way you compete.
You also give the chance to win Blackpool to the others (laughing)
[Sara] Yes, we give space to everybody (laughing)
Can you tell us how different it is to dance in Amateur and in Professional?
[Andrea] I think the difference is in quality. We come from the top of the Amateur division so we feel OK, we feel ready. For the past 3 years we won pretty much everything so we feel ready. Now we want to compete with the Professionals. There should not be much difference in how you practise or study, perhaps only that you are more mature.
[Sara] Yes, I think the difference is in maturity
When I talked to the Latin Professionals they stressed the fact that Amateur dancing is more about speed, sport and Professional is more about presentation and art. Do you think the same applies to Ballroom dancing?
[Sara] Personally I think it is not always the case. We always studied hard, we were always interested in quality, good movement and good technique. So perhaps because of that, our dancing was never about the speed.
[Andrea] Age comes to it as well. In Amateur you have dancers as young as nineteen. Of course the young nineteen year old dancers have more energy, and perhaps they can loose the quality then. Dancing is also a sport, but there is lots of technique in it and it has to be artistic. Without technique and without quality it is impossible to be a good dancer. Gym is not enough. The same applies to Ballroom and Latin. In Latin you need energy, but in Ballroom you need more coordination. Music is also important. I notice that many young couples thing of choreography first and it looks like they just run! But it is maybe an age, they are so young!
[Sara] It is very important to study. You then start to feel the dancing in a different way. It is exciting! You see it differently, it is not just the choreography... So I think what is important is, as Andrea said, the experience. And it often comes with maturity.
How important is a music for you when you are dancing?
[Sara] Very important.
[Andrea] It is impossible to dance without music of course! For me, it is perhaps like a second partner.
[Sara] The music gives us emotions, and it helps us to transfer these emotions to the audience.
Do you prefer the classic music or more modern?
[Andrea] Blackpool music is fantastic! I like also to practise with the Blackpool music because I like this style. Actually, Blackpool is fantastic, the music and the atmosphere! All the three English competitions are great, different to each other but great.
[Sara] I actually like any type of music.
So what is your favourite track you have on your iPod?
[Andrea] (laughing) Michael Buble!
[Sara] When we listen to the iPod it is not dancing music! Because we want to relax
[Andrea] I listen to Renato Zero, the Italian singer, all day!
[Sara] After practise we just have a life!! (laughing) No more dance music
That's what I wanted to ask you actually. what do you do in life apart from dancing?
[Sara] We hardly have any time outside of dancing.... But when we can as we both like it, we go to the sea in the summer. We like to visit the family. Not many people know about it, but we are both very religious, Catholic, and we pray a lot as well. We go to the church, we have a very good relationship with the faith and with the God.
[Andrea] on Saturday and Sunday we go to church. We like to commit that time to God.
[Sara] We always pray before the competition as well. It gives us strenght and lots of help. We thank God for all the good things we get in life. We offer our dancing to God as well, we feel this is a kind of present to God.
[Andrea] We also like to live a normal life. We like to be just with each other or go shopping. Always together...
[Sara] We do everything together. I never leave him alone! (laughing)
[Andrea] We like to have normal life without too much stress. We have a good family so we like to be with them as well.
Do you have any plans to expand your family? (laughing)
[Sara] Yes, in the future
[Andrea] I like children, so definitely
[Sara] After we win the Professional (laughs). So we have to do it fast!
It was charming to see Mirko with his small baby...
[Sara] Yes!! And Edita... They are happy
So lots of Professionals have children...
[Sara] When you see dancing as a gift from God, you realise that there is life outside dancing as well. And that life is enjoyable to live, the familiy, the home.
I think this is also a difference between the Professionals and Amateurs. Young Amateurs often cannot see anything but dancing. Dance covers the whole world....
[Andrea] Yes... but if you are dancing 22 years you have to see it differently. It would be too much! Dance is an important part of out lifes, but there are other things as well. It is important to practise but it is also important to have time for ourselves, to clean the mind, to have different opportunities outside of dancing if you want to continue to improve.... It is actually a stimulation.
Important to take a rest if you do not want to get crazy!! (laughing) Do you have any hobbies?
[Andrea] Hmmm, we have lot of them in a way but we do not maintain them. I started finishing but now, it is three years since I did it last time! I like to ski but in that case I prefered to stop as I had a fear of breaking a leg, or something... I like football but also, the same fear. So, lots of things we do, but quickly finish. So, I think the answer must be, no, we do not.
[Sara] Now, we prefer to relax when we finish our dancing job.
[Andrea] Yes! Dreaming of a long rest at some point (laughing)
There is no point of asking you two the same question as you always have the same answer! You are like two bodies but one mind.
Was it always like that? Event at the beginning? Many couples struggle to achieve that sort of harmony, especially in the beginning. Andreas: We started very young. I was nine, and Sara was eight. In a way, we just started our lives together. And then we danced together, just as friends until we were around eighteen, nineteen. We were close friends until then. Then I saw Sara blossomed and improved (laughing) and then I decided to be with her in life as well.
[Sara] You decided!! (laughing)
Typical Italian man! I thought women make these choices! (laughing) In fact, they do, and they do make their men think that it was their choice.
[Sara] Final decision was mine! (laughing)
[Andrea] There a problems in life, of course, we have problems just as anybody else. But we are lucky to have similar view on life, similar ideas
You have developed together, you started so young together. You probably had similar upbringing and influences...
[Andrea] We are very much together, in the dance and in the mind.
[Sara] Of course, there are problems in dance. We are both very strong minded. But it helps us as well. Everyday we want to do more, always more...
[Andrea] The first day we started to dance together, we were very young, the first thing I said to Sara was: I am better than you! And she immediately responded: don't worry, I am better and I will show you. And then I said: no, no, I am!
When did you realise that you are not dancing against each other, but against the other couples? (laughing)
[Andrea] No, no!! We are the couple...
[Sara] We are really joined. I think more competition between the partners in a couple, the better the couple. It works as a stimulation to improve. It worked then for us, Andrea wanted to show me he was better and better. And I wanted to show him the same. So it overall improved us as a couple.
Can you switch the sides, and can Andrea dance the lady, and you - can you dnce the man steps?
[Sara] Of course!
And you will be better? (laughing)
[Sara] We can try it, of course!!
[Andrea] She is better as a lady!
What is the strongest point in your partner? And what is the weakest? And don not look at each other!! (laughing)
[Andrea] It is a secret! No, OK. I'll start first. Sara is very modest, she doesn't think she is superior. She always cares about others, in fact more about others than about herself. She wants to help others. This is what I really like about her. She is perfect! (laughing)
[Sara] Oh, mamma mia!!
So Sara, what is the best about Andrea?
[Sara] He is just a good person! He is like an angel (laughing), sometimes with a little extra. No, seriously, he is a good person. I will stop now, too much said! (laughing)
What is the worst about your partner then?
[Andrea] She is very messy. She makes a lot of mess at home, things go everywhere!
[Sara] I must admit this is true. But I am a good wife anyway
[Andrea] Perfect! But you create a lot of mess
Come on Sara, what is bad about him?
[Sara] Nothing! Ok, I have to think hard now. Sometimes, he gets too concentrated on his own goals. He is like a horse! Works hard and pushes hard forward without thinking of others! So I, sometimes, have to intervene in that! I bring a little disorder into his ideas! He is sometimes too strong, too stubborn.
Food is very important for the Italians. Who cooks at home?
[Sara] I do. Andrea did it first, he tought me.
[Andrea] Sara could not cook. My Mum tought me to cook, but Sara did not have that. She improved a lot! I prefer Sara to improve and do it, so I do not have to cook. However, I do like it...
What is your favourite dish cooked by Sara?
[Andrea] She is very good with carbonara. Pasta with carbonara.
[Sara] And I like Andrea's pasta with cherry tomato sauce
[Andrea] In Italy we say meat and fish is easy, and pasta is more difficult.
[Andrea] It is very difficult to make simple pasta good and tasty. It is not easy to make a good, light sauce. You need fresh ingredients.
So your favourite food is home cooked Italian?
[Andrea] Definitely. Sometimes we eat in Japanese or Chinese or European restaurants but Italian is our favourite.
What is the most strange food you've ever tasted?
[Andrea] It is difficult to answer because I do not like to taste strange foods! For me, you are what you eat. If you eat good food, you are a well. So I like to eat well.
So I gather you do not consider McDonalds a good food?
[Andrea] No! But yesterday we ate in McDonalds
[Sara] Because everything was closed!
[Andrea] And now I have pain in my stomach....
[Sara] We never eat there normally.
[Andrea] Even in Japan, it is normally easy to find Italian restaurant because Japanese people like Italian food. We sometimes eat sushi but most of the time we go to the Italian there.
Do you consider Bella Italia, the Italian restaurant here in Blackpool, as a real Italian?
[Sara] No... but there are others. They can be found. We look and we know if it is good. Actually, we've never eaten in Bella Italia.
What about coffee?
[Sara] Espresso... Always!
[Andrea] In England we like americano...
Now you are English, aren't you! So you probably also like English breakfast?
[Andrea] Why not! In Italy we like espresso, and in England we like americano which in Italy is impossible to drink.
I am sure you know that some of the English food is fantastic!
[Andrea] If it is a good restaurant the food is also good. Doesn't matter where.
[Sara] Coming back to your question earlier about the strange foods... I think the most unusual food for me was shark. In Japan. We liked it.
[Andrea] As I said before, you are what you eat!! (laughing)
Do you now live in England as well?
[Sara] Yes, we have a house in London.
So, you will be dancing as Professionals for England as well?
[Andrea] We are very happy to dance for England.
What do you think is different in your own dancing if compared to the others on the dance floor?
[Andrea] I can say that the level of dancing os very good among the top Amateurs. Of course, there is different style between them. We might have different style of dancing, because we perhaps have different bodies, or we like different things. Not because we study different techniques.
What is important for you in dancing?
[Sara] Coordination, musicality and movement. I think our style comes from concentrating on these three factors. It maybe is different from the other couples.
Would you say that this is something people can recognise in you, for instance when watching thr Blackpool videos?
[Sara] Definitely, yes. I would like to think so.
[Andrea] We try to show these three elements when we dance.
[Sara] We think, as well, that it is important to enjoy your dancing at the competition. We enjoyed it very much yesterday. You practise till the last day, and the culmination is competition so you need to enjoy it. If you think too much, it can spoil it. You just need to apply what you did every day in practise.
Do you have a special preparation just before the competition? Sometimes you see couples practising steps just before the go on the floor.
[Sara] No, never. We need to feel the floor but each of us does it alone.
[Andrea] We practise together for many days before so we do not need to do it together just before the event.
[Sara] It is like with the exams. If you studied and prepared before, you are ready. If you did not - you are not! And then we pray so we are more sure of our performance (laughing). This is our secret
Actually I can see that can help. Apart from your belief in God, it also helps to calm you down
[Sara] We entrust the hall and all the dances to Jesus Christ's providence. And we do not worry then about anything
And it clearly works!
[Sara] (laughing) Yes! So we can simply enjoy the competition. This is how we do the competitions
Andrea, do you agree?
[Andrea] Yes, I agree. Boring, isn't it?
[Sara] Two bodies, one soul!!
Thank you very much for the interesting conversation!