We chatted to the young Russian couple Ilya Sizov and Yulia Koshkina, the winners of the Under21 Latin event at Blackpool 2013 and runners-up of the Amateur Rising Star Latin. They are nineteen and twenty years old but already have successes which many older dancers would only dream of. See more results
What a fantastic result for you and I am sure you are happy with it.
[Ilya] Yes, very much so
Tell us a little about yourselves
[Ilya] I started dancing when I was seven years old. It happened after my mother seen some dancing on TV. My grandfather liked Rock&Roll and both he and my mother wanted me to dance. So I started dancing in a dance club in Moscow called Lider Dance. When I was young it was just a hobby but with time I realised that I liked it very much and wanted to do more. I realised it is a sport and there are competitions. When I was nearly eleven years old I started dancing seriously and took part in various competitions. At the time I danced both Latin and Ballroom. My coaches were Stepan Skok, Natalia Rumyanceva and Alexandr Ravdel. I finished dancing Ballroom three years ago as it became more difficult to dance both styles. To dance seriously in both styles you need to spend more time preparing, more money and it just became too difficult for me. Money was always an issue.
How many partners did you have before Yulia?
[Ilya] I had probably six, from Juvenile. It sounds a lot but I don't think it is not. I am twenty years old. My best results in Junior were quarterfinals at the Junior Blackpool in 2007 with Anastasia Inozemceva, we danced both Latin and Ballroom and it was my first English competition. In 2010, in Youth with Irina Grishina, we danced in Paris, Disneyland and we won both Ballroom and Latin.
And what about Yulia?
[Yulia] I started dancing when I was eleven. Before that I did karate. I have brown belt in karate. Once I saw people dancing and wanted to dance too! (laughing) So I started dancing. I had several partners before. Our best results were semi-finals in both Ballroom and Latin in Junior Blackpool.
How did you meet?
[Ilya] By chance really. We met one and a half year ago. My previous partner was from Ukraine, we danced only six months and it finished after the International. It was our last competition and we did not get good results so we decided to split up. It was just before Dutch Open in Assen and Paris. I searched for a partner. My birthday is on the 13th of November and it was near that date I found an advert on the Russian website of a girl looking for a partner. It looked good so I decided for a try-out. We met at the Dance Options dance studio. I was happy because it felt really good. We have also shown ourselves to Sergey Ryupin so he could see how we looked together. Sergey was my teacher.
[Yulia] We danced in different organisations but I really wanted to dance in WDC and to train with Sergey Ryupin very much. So I was happy about this partner and that's why we dance for WDC now.
[Ilya] Sergey liked us and we started our partnership. Our first competition was Winter Star in Moscow. It was a success, we were 3rd in Youth II Latin. In Russia, Youth is separated into two groups. We also danced the semi-final of the Amateur Latin. The first big competition for us was last year Blackpool. We only danced for few months then but we had a very good result in Under21 Latin. We were placed 3rd and we were the highest positioned Russian couple. There were other Russian couples in the final, behind us, and several in the earlier rounds but we came up the best. It was amazing for us that we could achieve so much in such a short time together. We also danced the Rising Stars and we finished in the quarter-final but because we were a new partnership we had to dance all the rounds and danced every day for four days. It was really difficult. This year we did better (laughing)! By the way, we wanted to thank Sergey for helping us to prepare perfectly to this competition.
Yulia, what do you like about him?
[Yulia] I know what I don't like! I can talk for hours about it in Russian! (laughing). I am very strong and when my partner is not as strong, I am not happy. Ilya was always ready to work hard and I think this is great. It means that we can always do a lot and work hard together. That's why we have good results. We both want more and more, every day. Ilya is stronger than me and I feel strong support from him. I can rely on him. And with him I feel secure. When we go to competitions abroad he takes care of me like a big brother! (laughing)
Ilya, what do you like in her?
[Ilya] Yulia has a very variable character. She may be happy one day and the next day she is unhappy and then something else! I like it in a way, because it is boring when people are the same every day and have only one emotion. I like changes.
So you are saying that she is moody but you like it!!??
[Ilya] Yes. I think so. Also, I like that, when we work together, she is very helpful. She gives me strength when I may need it. She is a very good girl.
Now tell me what you don't like about each other
[Yulia] Hmmm. There are no perfect people so even if I don't like something Ilya does, I think it is OK, normal. Anyway, we are all like that, we all have faults.
[Ilya] I don't like when Yulia acts immature sometimes. She is always professional about practice and work but sometimes she can be really like a child.
I see, she wants to pass all the responsibilities to you and you don't want it. But she said, she likes that she can rely on you!
[Yulia] You are a man and I am a woman (laughing)
Who designs your costumes?
[Yulia] I do mine. All the dresses I design myself and find dressmakers to make them. The last dress was made by Tatiana Beryukova from Moscow.
Which dances do you like the most?
[Yulia] I like all five of them. Maybe Rumba or Samba is my favourite... or maybe Jive, or Paso Doble. All of them!
What about the Ballroom dances?
[Ilya] Tango for sure. When I danced Ballroom my favourites were Tango and Quickstep because they are the most energetic and powerful ones. In Latin I like Samba and Rumba most. Maybe because they were our best dances this year in Blackpool.
What is your favourite food?
[Ilya] Yulia doesn't like to eat.
[Yulia] No, no! I like chocolate, fruits and porridge and soups.
[Ilya] I like chocolate too. But I also like meat, and various fruits, and vegetables.
Do you follow any special diet before the competition?
[Ilya] No, I eat what I want before the competition but then I just drink.
[Yulia] Yes! I eat only buckwheat and apples. But then during the competition I eat everything.
What do you do outside of dancing?
[Ilya] We are students. I am a student of the Moscow State University of Food Production.
[Yulia] I study in Moscow, in the Institute of Transport.
I was expecting something like Art or Dance, not Transport or Food Production (laughing)!
[Ilya] But it doesn't mean it is about cooking (laughing). I study in the Faculty of Economics. And Yulia also studies Economics.
How did you chose these subjects?
[Yulia] To be honest it was conveniently near where I live! And both my parents and my grandfather studied there. My two brothers study in this university as well.
DO you have friends outside dancing?
[Ilya] Yes, of course. Lots of friends at the university.
Do they know about your dancing?
[Ilya] When I was younger my classmates thought that dancing was not for boys so it was difficult for me. But when I went to the university my friends liked what I do. They are interested, watch my videos sometimes and support me. They ask me about results when I come back from the competitions. It is different now.
[Yulia] I haven't got so many friends outside of dancing. But I have many who dance. They are usually older but I like that. I am 19 and my friends are 25 years old.
What are your dreams or plans for the future?
[Ilya] I would like to be like Sergey Ryupin! (laughing) I don't want to have a job outside of dancing. Dancing is my life and I want to do it all my life! I want to dance in Professionals later.
[Yulia] Maybe when Sergey Ryupin reads this interview he will not be happy but I want to be like Joanna Leunis (laughing). She is passionate in what she does. I like that. I want to be like her
OK, you want to be simply World Champions!
[Ilya] Who wouldn't want it!
Your next competitions will be?
[Ilya] It will probably be Golden Gate of Siberia in Tumen. The prize in this competition will be 1 mln Euro!
How do you pay for your dancing?
[Ilya] I work. I teach dancing. I have some couples, in Junior. That money pays for my own dancing.
Do your parents help at all?
[Ilya] They used to but stopped a few years ago. It was difficult for them to support me when I was dancing both styles. So my mother told me I have to work. I started looking for work, contacted some clubs. The first club I started working in was in Noginsk. I worked there for nearly two years. When my students began to have good results, more couples came to me. I now work in two clubs, in Noginsk and in Podolsk.
OK, that you for a nice chat. All the best for the future!
All photos by Peter Suba