We sat down with the world #1 Professional’s Emanuel and Tania to discuss their secret to dance success and how you can benefit from it.
Names: Emanuel Valeri (Italy) & Tania Kehlet (Denmark)
Partnered: 12+ years
Emanuel & Tania: Thank you! (smiles)
Emanuel: I began around 7 years old and I started because my grandmother was going to dance, I was with her because my mother and father were working. For fun I started. My first competition I won in Italy and immediately started taking competition seriously.
Tania: I started when I was 3 ½ years old because I was doing children’s modelling, catwalk type fashion shows and I had no clue what I was doing and the people, they wanted me to dance in time with the music. I was just running back and forward to the music. So they said to my mum if they could take me to the dance school to learn how to walk.
Tania: Not sure! (laughs)
Emanuel: We are invited so our expenses like, flights and hotel accommodation, are paid for. Of course there is prize money, so every other week we compete for the prize money. 90% of competitions we are invited.
Tania: The major competitions, like Blackpool, International and U.K we are not invited and pay for ourselves.
Emanuel & Tania: Yes it is!
Emanuel: You need to be able to take time in a correct way, because sometimes it can be too much . So you need to know when is your limit.
Emanuel: Yes, we do.
Tania: Blackpool time, like the whole of May, we just focus for Blackpool. We want to stay hungry for the competitions. It’s the same before the Worlds. We don’t compete 3 weeks before the Worlds. So we feel motivated!
Emanuel: We have to choose our competitions, like if we get 2 invitations on same weekend we only choose 1.
Emanuel & Tania: (smiles and laughs)
Emanuel: Yes, we have been teaching in Italy, China, Iceland, wherever they call us – we go!
Tania: Our main coaches are in Denmark, Italy and in the U.K
Emanuel: Very much, a lot of planning.
Tania: Us! We are the team!
Emanuel: We are training, booking flights and structure the work ourselves.
Tania: In the beginning we were getting help from our parents, but not anymore. We are also part of Team Denmark which is an association that helps the top athletes in Denmark in every sport. We get some money from them and if we get injured we get some physiotherapy and help. So that’s also kind of a team!
Emanuel: It is depending on which period. If it is before a comp or after a big comp. We adapt the practice to the period. For example: We practice much harder before Blackpool than in July.
Emanuel & Tania: Everything!
Emanuel: For example: Normally when we have period with less competition we focus on improving something big. When we are closer to the competition we are not trying to improve we are focusing towards the comp. So it is different.
Tania: Yes, we study.
Emanuel: Depending on what we need to improve. For a period it could be drive action. So we focus on the drive action for a period.
Emanuel: This is the problem. Sometimes there are so many competitions, it is quite difficult to divide time. We have almost 2 competitions every month so you have to be always ready. It also depends what comp you’ve got to do. If it’s just before Blackpool, 2 weeks before you can’t work on drive action, it must be there or it’s too late! But straight after Blackpool, you don’t need to do stamina. We have a lot of variety.
Emanuel: At least 3 hours per day. Outside that we have ballet, gym or lesson. We dance up to 5 hours per day.
Emanuel: Before the majors, we prepare a list of goals. What we want to achieve. Like what we want to achieve performance wise, we set a goal. And then, we work out what to eat, increase stamina practice, increase performance practice to condition the body.
Emanuel: We are together! We have been together for over 10 years
Tania: 6 months after!
Tania: I personally believe a lot in the 50/50 partnership. I don’t think women are aware of how important they are both mentally and dancing wise. You will never have a good man if you don’t improve as well. In terms of dress, it’s difficult. I love that side a lot!
Tania: Lots of stuff! Dresses too long – like I had at the U.K (laughs) I covered the floor in feathers too.
Emanuel: But you get a lot of inspiration from fashion world.
Tania: Yes, I design dresses. Outside of dancing and I get a lot of inspiration from the outside fashion world, not from ballroom dancing.
Tania: I design for myself and just sell the designs to a Danish company.
Emanuel: Sports in general. My favourite sport is football. Play a bit of tennis, swim. Not too much because I don’t have enough time. Theatre is good and I really like music. Playstation is fun too – in the night! (laughs) I am a normal person, I don’t just close in my room and read books.
Emanuel: Of course! But on the competition floor, we have no friends. (laughs) In a competition everyone is there to beat each other, I think this is normal. But outside we should be able to have fun. It is like the working world normal people have office jobs and friends, we are the same.
Emanuel: A LOT of sacrifice and hard work!
Tania: Make sure you make it fun! If it is not fun while you’re working, you should retire.
Emanuel: You must enjoy the teaching, travelling, and competitions. If you get to tired you’re not enjoying it.
Tania: Set up your goals, make a plan and then follow the plan. I think many people make the goal, sometimes make the plan but they don’t follow it.
Emanuel: I believe it is the work. Hard work and everyday. If you don’t put it in, you cannot expect to have a lot back.
Tania: We want to win the Worlds. We want to win everything. Blackpool, European, U.K in Amateur first and then we turn professional. That is our goal.
Emanuel: We are working towards that.
Emanuel: You must plan good! (laughs)
Emanuel: Hard work, have fun and you must have passion!
Emanuel & Tania: No problem! Thank you.