After the announcement of the end of their competitive career, the nine-time Latin dance world champions and seven-time Blackpool champions Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj began their farewell tour. They arrived to Russia on June 10th for just one day and gave their performance at the Grand Marriott Hotel for the guests of dancing club GallaDance. Before their farewell performance as a competitive couple, Bryan and Carmen found some time for DanceSport.Ru readers.
- Carmen, Bryan, you've finished your competitive dancing. You could have finished earlier or could have danced more. Why now?
Carmen: It was a difficult decision for both of us. We've retired (stopped dancing) as a competitive couple but we continue to dance in various shows. We chose this year to finish our career because at this moment we were both ready to do it. Before this time neither I nor Bryan was ready. I think we choose the right time because if we would have done it a year ago it would have been early for me, and if we would have postponed it for a year Bryan would have had to wait too long. Now we are in our prime and I'm sure we would keep it if we continued to dance, but we reached the top level and we wanted to stay in people's minds as we are now. And I'm happy that we are retiring right now.
- You became the first couple of the world for nine times. Which of these nine World Championships is more memorable for you?
Bryan: It is rather difficult to say because every competition has its own particularities. But of course I will always remember first dancing with Carmen. It was a very special moment, very exciting, which impressed both of us. And I will also remember the first championship which we won as well as the last festival in Blackpool.
Carmen: The performance in Blackpool was very important and exciting for me too. The audience gave us a very warm welcome. You have several steps in your career and this festival was the most memorable for me.
- Now you don't have to strive for victory at tournaments anymore. What are your purposes now? What are you going to do?
Bryan: Now that we don't have to spend so much effort concentrating on competitions, we have new possibilities for new impressions and new events in our life. Now we can spend our energy on something else. We will develop various projects which have some relation to dance. I mean miscellaneous shows - maybe something special in dancing sphere, perhaps Argentine tango.
Carmen: Yes, we'd like to concentrate our efforts on activity related to dance because it can open new doors for us. I think we will continue to do shows for eighteen months. After that we will find some other project. Perhaps we will deal with one Japanese company and take part in clothes and shoe advertising.
- In one of your interviews you said that you were never satisfied with your dancing. Can you say now that during all your competitive career there was even one performance when you left the dance floor entirely satisfied with yourself?
Bryan: Entirely - never. Dances are bound with your feelings and you try to do your best. You make targets but as soon as you reach a definite level you want to improve and improve it. Looking back at all of my competitions, I can certainly mark some moments when I was satisfied with myself in something. But performance is not a set of different elements - it is always a whole picture. That is why I can highlight only some moments in which I succeeded but I can't say about this or that performance that it was the best one.
- What did you feel during your last dance in Blackpool, knowing that this was your last competitive dance?
Bryan: It was at the same time a sad and happy moment for me. Sad because I have been dancing since I was five and all my life I had taken part in competitions and now it had to come to the end. I also felt sad because of the warm welcome from the audience. But I'm very glad that fortune gave me a chance to dance, travel and become a champion. It was a very exciting performance, because I became a world champion nine times and Blackpool champion seven times as well as other tournaments. I'm grateful for the possibility to reach such a level.
Carmen: It was also sad and exciting for me. All day long I understood that this would be the last time when I compete, the last time when I come on to on the dance floor and all day long I had tears in my eyes. But you should be strong and overcome it to come out and to deliver a good performance. And there was a really wonderful audience which met us very warmly and that is why, as Bryan mentioned, the moment was very sad.
- Which dancing couple would you single out now [for their performance], whom do you like most of all?
Bryan: No one! I only hope that such a couple will appear now. Because during our career we were too much concentrated on our own results and had no time to look around. You can ask me this question in a year.
- Is it possible that you will come back, as it happened with Donny Berns, who returned to the dance floor a year after announcing his retirement?
Bryan: I have asked all my friends to break my legs if I do.
Carmen: Yes, you can come back because there is no rule which prohibits a couple to appear on the dance floor again, but when a couple returns they never manage to make the same impression as they used to before. I've never seen a couple which was as good after their coming back as before, and it always disappoints you a little. So, I agree that if I come back, I will have to do the same with my legs. The answer to your question - no!
- Dance for you - is it more of a pleasure or job? Sport or art?
Bryan: It is treated different in different moments. First it is only a kind of entertainment, then you have to learn technique, you need to work and to improve to reach any results. It becomes a study, you are learning as a student. After that it becomes your job and you must remain a professional even when you don't have inspiration. As for me, dance is more of an art, but this art is individual. For me it was always important how exactly I execute these or those elements in Latin dances. For me it is important to show exactly my character on the dance floor. I didn't want to be a prince, didn't want to be a swan, I wanted to be Bryan Watson! And what I liked most of all - that audience came to watch Bryan Watson specifically.
- Dancing societies lead a heated discussion questioning whether ballroom dancing would lose or win by being included into the Olympic Games. Is it possible, from your point of view, to judge dance using the Olympic system, for example as skating is done by separating the technical and artistic aspects?
Bryan: It is rather difficult to judge the Olympic sports. When it just began it was rather simple to judge who is higher or quicker. The problem is that dances are judged by one's personal perception and personal feelings, and it can't always be unique. One will call me the best and the other will call me the worst dancer - and who will be right? No judged sport belongs in the Olympics.
Carmen: Yes, it is very difficult to judge dances since it depends on subjective perception. For example, the step should be five centimeters shorter or longer or in another direction. I wouldn't be happy either if ballroom dancing would be included into the Olympic Games because in this case dances would gain more sportive character. But if it still happens it would have some positive moments from the financial point of view because the Olympic Games always attract a lot of sponsors and receive wide coverage in mass media. All this would improve the dancers' status. So for many dancing couples it wouldn't be bad, but from the point of view of the development of ballroom dancing it is not the best option.
- Do you think there are any problems in the judgment of ballroom dancing?
Bryan: Certainly there are some problems. They are related to the judge's subjectivity. You can never say what is right and what is wrong. Everyone can defend his point of view.
Carmen: Ballroom dancing is not a kind of sport where everything can be measured how long, how high, how quickly. Of course not a single person judges a competition but rather a group of people and we therefore have some judgment objectivity. But the sport still can't be evaluated entirely objectively.
- In this connection: what about stereotypes? Didn't you ever have a feeling that you won another first place because it was difficult for judges to choose between equally strong couples, and that your champion status was the influential factor in making a decision?
Carmen: The fact is that you often compete against your previous performance. Judges remember how you danced before and your previous championships even play some role against you. Judges want to see a couple dancing next to you who are maybe less known, but who are making the effort. As for the champions, judges have more serious demands towards them. You can't say that if you were a champion ten times that means that you'll become a champion for the eleventh time. You need to work, work and work.
Bryan: Yes, if you are a champion you can't dance worse then you danced before, so you should always have the ambition to deliver a better performance. Of course there are couples taking second and third places, and these couples are close behind.
- How do you think judgment differs in different countries?
Bryan: Every country has its own dancing association and it has its own demands, but a couple is not specifically aware of this. We still hope that the judgment is the same in every country.
Carmen: I think it must be the same, though there is no single list which contains the requirements for all counties. This is a good question - we'd also like to know that.
- Did you have psychological problems? How did you cope with them?
Bryan: We had problems: psychological, physical, mental. Because you can't find two people who think absolutely alike and who would always agree with each other.
Carmen: Two different people are working together and it is natural that they have to find compromise, to agree and make concessions in something. I don't know a single couple which didn't have such problems.
- What should an unknown couple know, as they are taking part in their first big competition?
Bryan: The first thing is to realize why you are dancing. Not to pursue some material thing, but to understand your own concrete purpose. And the second thing is to understand in advance why you are entering the dance floor at this particular time.
- What peculiarities should a partner have to keep his/her couple?
Carmen: There is nor single answer, nor universal formula. Some things which are good for one couple wouldn't work with the other. Some couples orient themselves on their external compatibility - that they have a nice look together. But this is wrong. You should experience both good and bad times with your partner and it is very important how a person behaves - especially in bad, difficult moments. Personally, Bryan is a person who is comfortable to be with. Before we started to dance together, Bryan had sent me a fax on four pages. It was a questionnaire.
- Why? What was in it?
Carmen: It contained questions from Bryan. I answered them. For example, questions about how I would behave if we would win or lose a competition, how I see the development of my dancing. The questions related most to what I would feel like if we lost, what I would do - work more on improvement of my dancing or blame the judges for their wrong estimate. There were also questions about my main purpose in dancing, about my preferences. I don't remember - it was nine years ago! We needed this test first of all to understand if we could build relations with each other and only after that it concerned the dancing itself.
Bryan: We needed this questionnaire to understand if two people could dance together and how they will communicate. It didn't contain questions directly regarding dances but, for example, there was a question how a partner would feel after unsuccessful performance or after victory. You know, sometimes a couple seems to dance very well but in fact they don't have nice relationships. They simply hate each other.
- Bryan, what peculiarities do you appreciate in Carmen most of all?
Bryan: She is a boss, that's why I need to stay with her! We are different and precisely the differences let us reach the balance in our couple. Carmen is more organized, she has her things sorted out and I can leave some business for the other day. But if Carmen has some psychological problems before performance, I will take the responsibility and help my partner to solve them.
- Do you plan any changes in your private life? Maybe it's time for a family now, when you finished your competitive career?
Bryan: No. I want a dog because a dog is always in a good mood and is always happy to see me. And it is always amusing - when it is small and when it grows up.
Carmen: No. I'm not planning to start a family. Dance has always limited me somehow. I was concentrated on dances all my life and now I can't imagine myself looking after a baby. Now I want to be responsible not for dances and not for a child but only for myself.
- And still if you have more time, what will you do to gladden yourself? What makes you feel happy?
Bryan: Now we don't have more free time because, as we have already said, we will be arranging different shows. We are going to America, then to Australia, to Japan and so on. But when I can finally allow myself to have a rest I want to do what other people do in their daily life: I want to wake up late, go for a walk with my dog, cook and so on.