We met with Alex and Manuela, winners of the UK Tango Festival and Tango BA Dance World Cup Preliminaries, 2014, representing England, UK.
Why did you decide to compete?
ALEX – It was interesting to do it. I work with Kat Gorna teaching tango in London and as she got involved rehearsing for stage category, I started thinking about it. Manuela called me and I accepted straight away! We love the connection we have. Manuela comes from Spain so we didn’t have much time, but because of the connection we had, we thought about it a lot and decided to get together and rehearse.
How much did you rehearse?
ALEX – When we could. Manuela would visit for 1 week and we would rehearse intensely, 4-5hrs per day, as much as we could.
How important is connection to you?
ALEX – We could see we were a good dancing couple when we met in the milonga and we could see how we could do something properly. In any case, we weren’t thinking of going for the championships but just to go for dancing together and see how it would be. There is a champion from 2010 in Buenos Aires, Sebastian Ariel Jimenez (Partner: Maria Ines Bogado). He learned from my professor, Carlitos Perez, and always says that the competition is about yourself, to see how you are under the pressure. It’s a challenge for yourself. And that was our idea. To go, meet together, to see how our tango salon would be with all of these elements on top. It was really nice to see that. Every day, we didn’t think we would pass. We had problems with our last tango yesterday and when they called our number in the last moment, it was very interesting, very nice. No words really! You kind of feel stuck and realize later.
MANUELA – I don’t think I realize yet!
ALEX – You look at the trophy and it says ‘UK Champion Tango Salon’ and you think…me? It’s very exciting.
How does it feel to compete?
MANUELA – We were so nervous every day. We have to improve a lot. Its clear that we danced good I guess, because we won, but we know we have to work so much more and feel more confident.
How did you deal with the nerves? Alex, you were so nervous even your jacket was shaking!
ALEX – We said to each other that we are going to dance like we do in the milonga and we are going to do it because we love dancing tango. Not for a show or performance or to impress the judges. I was putting myself in a quiet, good mood. But there were steps where I needed to change position and then go for the next step – in those moments you need your axis to be strong and in that position you can’t control your body, which is shaking. Still you try to control your moves, be fine with yourself, with the music, your partner. It’s not just fear. Its also a positive feeling! In the middle, I even felt happy! There was a Pugliese song and one part was really “boom”…”boom”… You are dancing with that emotion and enter totally into that idea.
MANUELA – I was nervous but tried to think, like Alex, that we were in the milonga. The first day, yes, I didn’t expect to pass through to the second day. On the second, I was more relaxed because I thought for sure today is the last one and we would go out. I tried to enjoy it. Then on the third, c’mon we are in the final! There were just 4 and its impossible not to be nervous.
What was inside your head during the final?
MANUELA – Today is the last day, you have your friends here to watch, you have to enjoy, for me for Alex.
What did you think of the festival?
MANUELA – It was a shame about the Russian couple… The places for the milongas were nice. The DJ’s, everything, was great!
What was it like amongst the contestants?
MANUELA – For me it was amazing. I am a contemporary dancer as well and I have done a few competitions. It is not the same atmosphere. It’s true that from the first day we felt like we were at home, in the same room all together, doing makeup, hair and talking. It has been very nice.
Yes, we know not to touch Alex’s hair!
ALEX – It took me 2hrs to do this hair. I am worse than a woman in this. I think it was very nice to be with these guys and compete together. They are beautiful people. We were feeling nice, being together. It was not a competition at all. Each of us wanted to do the best for ourselves. Each of us knew our own way that we dance. We wanted to do the best in how we do it. We were talking about how we handled this tango or that tango, and telling each other we did well on this or that. It was really nice. And at the same time, one of the best things was that I felt that we were not competing on different levels so it wasn’t intimidating. On the other side, you could have been. It was a good level. There were contestants who could really win! As much as we had a chance, so did others. We couldn’t be sure of many things. It was a good challenge.
ALEX – Well, now Buenos Aires. We will go to my professor and ask for some help. And train, train, train.