At Dancing Ox Coffee Roasters, we're serious about 3 things...coffee, dance, and blending these beautiful worlds together. Some people may not know that swing has so many different styles. People dance swing socially, competitively, slow, fast, upright, upside down, and all over the world!
We wanted to take a moment and highlight some very talented dancers, Swing's Sondre and Tanya. When we first came across Sondre and Tanya, their energy and expression was undeniable. Watching their videos, we were tapping our feet with the biggest smiles on our faces. Great dancers are the ones that make you feel what they feel...an urge to dance. We needed to know how they met, prepare for competitions, and of course what kind of coffee they drink!
Sondre and Tanya were very gracious to partake in Dancing Ox Coffee Roasters' Peek into a Dancer's World interview...
There are so many different styles of Swing out there, for example we were competing in Jive and East Coast Swing. What type of Swing do you specialize in and how did you discover it?
We are specializing in Boogie Woogie, a European brother of Jive and Jitterbug dance.
Tanya discovered it through competing in acrobatic rock-n-roll for 8 years. World Rock’n’roll Confederation embraces both dances - Boogie Woogie and Acrobatic Rock’n’roll in its competition program. Hence, most of its events have joint teams. When her coaches saw the boogie couples they decided to try this new kind of dancing for the kids. This is how Tanya got involved into learning Boogie Woogie. Later on she has developed also in social part of this dance.
Sondre has been dancing Norwegian Swing since he was a kid and even got to the semi-final of the Norway Got Talent show with his two partners. Due to this show he got noticed by the Norwegian Dance Federation and taken to participate in the national team practices in boogie woogie. Even though he couldn’t compete internationally till 13 years old, he was still training already since the age of 11.
After getting into the competition scene we both (In different times) discovered social dancing and started traveling around studying swing dancing (not only Boogie Woogie but also Lindy Hop and jazz).
Every dancer and couple has their procedure of warming up right before a performance or competition. Walk us through the few hours leading up to a performance. How do you mentally and physically prepare?
In the competition morning we aren’t feeling social at all so as less contact with others we have the better. Somehow talking drags much energy away. Other than that there is nothing very specific about our mental preparation. We are simply coming to the dance room avoiding the crowd, checking out the floor and then waiting for the rounds to start. 20 minutes before the round we warm up and dance short sessions with figures and without in order to keep the muscles warm.
How did you two meet?
As the scene is relatively small it is very easy to meet there or at least notice each other. We have “officially” met during Herrang Dance Camp 2013, where we accidentally got to dance in the fast feet competition final together. It was a Jack’n’Jill contest where all of the couples are not regular dance partners, but put together on the spot. We won it. That’s how we first met - kind of funny taking into account the whole story after it :). Another interesting thing is that Tanya even thought back then that it would be funny to have a partnership with Sondre (it kind of felt unrealistic).
In 2014 Tanya was leaving Ukraine for Europe which meant that she would stop dancing with her previous partner. Sondre also didn’t have a constant dance partner back then. In 2015 he asked her to assist him in teaching at one gig in France, she agreed to it and since then we have been dancing, competing, teaching and performing together for the last 5 years :)
Being from two different countries and now living in Poland do you find any differences in the social world of Swing between Poland, Norway, and Ukraine?
The difference is mainly in the amount of people and everything that is connected to mentality. Social distancing in Norway is much stronger than in Ukraine and Poland. That’s why people are in general calmer and you can feel this calmness in dancing too. Except Bergen maybe! They are the craziest dance community in Norway for the moment, in a very positive way of course :). At the same time - all of the dancers in all of these countries are in general nice and open minded people. Ukrainian and Norwegian communities are a bit more close to us than a polish one, but it is mainly a question of time :)
As you know we are dancers turned coffee roasters so we have to ask you a little about coffee :)....Do you like coffee?
Sondre is a huge fan of coffee! He drinks about 5 cups a day - long americano. Tanya is more of a tea person, but due to Sondre she started drinking a bit more coffee mixing it with milk.
What would Sondre and Tanya order while visiting a coffee shop?
Sondre would go for a medium americano and Tanya for latte macchiato. But her most favorite is mocha (mixture of coffee, milk and cacao). We call it “Crying coffee” because it somehow makes nerve system overexcited which results in getting sensitive and crying at some point out of nothing. Sometimes we would both go for some crazy coffee mix, the one containing different flavors, cream, topping, glitter and sparkles.
Tanya’s dream is to try this sort of coffee which has been pooped out by that small animal and is considered to be the most expensive elite coffee in the world. The whole concept is just insane... so why not to try :)
Tell us a fun fact about both of you.
Tanya is our smartie - she knows huge amount of “unnecessary facts” and always tells Sondre about them. Sondre calls her Tanchinpedia. Another thing is that she always has her moments which are now known as “Tanya moments” among some of our boogie woogie friends - everything which goes wrong, breaks, gets funny - we simply say “Tanya moment” even if it wasn’t connected to her.
Sondre hates mornings and has the grumpiest ever morning face, which is also quite known now among many event organizers, students and our dancing friends. No one is getting affected by it because they know that he is a nice guy inside.
If you could offer a piece of advice to any kind of aspiring artist around the world, what would it be?
Life is always opening doors and even when it looks like nothing can go worse, just relax for a moment, breath out and you will for sure see the opportunity.
For more on Sondre & Tanya, check out SondreandTanya.com!
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