Interview with Roberto Imparato and Alessia Lepre

Interview with Roberto Imparato and Alessia Lepre

Přidáno v úterý, 02 VIII 2022, 15:00 autorem admin
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We talked to Roberto Imparato and Alessia Lepre, the winners of Amateur Rising Star Latin at the UK Open 2022. This interview was conducted over zoom.

Love the ability to perform and portray my emotions with the movement of my body. The music completes the story

When did you start dancing?

[Alessia] I started when I was five years old. One day my mother, I don't really know why, put me in the centre of the dance floor during a party. And after that event, she decided that I have it in me and that I should start dancing.

So your parents did not dance?

[Alessia] No, no, my parents danced but it was just a social dancing

Did you start competing straight away?

[Alessia] No, I only did social dancing at the start. And when I was about ten years old I started competing in juvenile.

What was the first competition you remember?

[Alessia] I remember the Italian Championships in Cervia.

Tell me about your partners...

[Alessia] My first partner was also ten years old, the same age as me, when we started competing. Initially, we started with some smaller competitions and then it got more interesting. We started to enjoy the thrill and that competitive feeling and that satisfaction of winning. We danced for about seven years. But with that came problems. We were both growing up and our priorities changed. I wanted to continue competing, he was not that serious about it. We had different goals. And we split up. I got another partner for the next three years but again, our priorities and goals differed and again, it was a reason we decided to split up.

How about you, Roberto?

[Roberto] I also started quite young, as a child of five years. It was no more than social dancing really. When I was ten years old, I started dancing more seriously, and we did a lot of competitions together. But the girl I danced with had different priorities, and I wanted to get much more serious so we split up. I moved from my small town Fondi in Lazio to another city, in Puglia.

OK, tell me why you got interested in dancing as a kid? It is not that typical for boys this age.

[Roberto] My aunt danced, and she often took me to social dance events. I was the first kid to attend that dance school. It was not easy because all my friends, other boys, played football or other typical boys' sports and to be honest, twenty years ago, it was not easy to be a boy dancer. Too much prejudice. But it did not stop me to continue what I loved

How did you two meet?

[Roberto] I split from my partner, and Alessia split with hers. There is six years of difference between us but we were already in a relationship privately (laughing) so it was only natural to also get to dance together. I think Alessia risked a lot because she gave up a chance to dance in the younger categories like Under 21. She went up to Amateur with me. We practiced a lot when we first started. We worked hard in the early morning and in the evening, by ourselves. It was tough because I worked during the day and she was still in school.

[Alessia] Yes, we started dancing together when I was nineteen years old.

So, you started dancing together because you were already a couple in your private life?

[Alessia] No, no. It was the right time for us, for both of us. We both happen to split up with our partners at the same time. So we decided to try together.

Was it the first time you tried together?

[Roberto] Before my partner and I split were actually preparing a show for my school. We were doing an exhibition. So when we split, I had to find a partner quickly and I asked Alessia to do it with me. And after that, we just carried on (laughing).

Did you dance Ballroom as well?

[Alessia] No, only Latin

I guess you danced Ballroom as kids?

[Roberto] No, I tried but it never worked for me (laughing). But when Alessia and I go to some parties we dance something called Lento in Italy. We dance together, close (laughing).

[Alessia] It has nothing in common with the Ballroom dance (laughing). You just a slow dance and you close together!

Do you ever dance any other Latin style outside of the 5 regular dances?

[Roberto] We did Salsa, Bachada. We like dancing these styles when we go to parties too.

What is the most important thing for you in dancing?

[Roberto] She is the most important thing for me (laughing)!

Good answer! But seriously, do you think the competition element or the show element is more important?

[Roberto] It changed for me. In the beginning, I tried to show the best of myself. But now, most of all, I try to make sure we enjoy ourselves. There is a difference, the focus is elsewhere. I want us to show we are happy. I think I completely changed our attitude to dancing.

Who would you want to impress more, the public or the judges?

[Roberto] I think I want to be a winner in the judges eyes. But I also want to impress the audience. Honestly, it probably means more to me to enjoy the dancing, and to bring joy to people who are watching us.

[Alessia] Roberto is very competitive, he wants to win! Winning is really important to him

[Roberto] Sure, I want to be the first! I want to feel I am at the top because I work so hard for it. But at the same time, I want to impress the audience, I want them to like us, to say Wow! (laughing). That is very important for me. And equally important to me is to feel I am enjoying myself.

What do you like in your partner the most?

[Alessia] I like this powerful presence he has on the dance floor. I like how protective of me he is, I feel very safe in his hands.

[Roberto] I really like dancing with her, she gives me that power. She has a lot of charisma on the floor and that gives me energy. In good way and also in a bad way (laughing). On one hand it empowers me. But when she wants something, she immediately goes for it and that may mean a different direction to what I want (laughing).

OK, so what don't you like about your partner?

[Roberto] Exactly what I said, when she wants something, she goes in that direction and may lose herself in that! She is so focused on one thing that she may forget that enjoying and being happy is really the most important thing. But that determination is something that is driving me too.

[Alessia] Sometimes when he gets stressed at the competition, Roberto has a tendency to withdraw into himself, to isolate himself. Often it is exactly when I need him most as I too get stressed. It should be us against the world, rather than me and him separate. But sometimes it happens, and it is him who forgets to enjoy himself!

I thought it was exactly what Roberto complained about you, Alessia! (laughing)

[Roberto] I think, under the pressure, we both are a bit like that.

[Alessia] Yes, especially under the pressure, the competition stress takes over

What do you like to do when you are not dancing?

[Roberto] We live together so we try to find the time to take the dance shoes off (laughing). It is hard but when we are off the dance floor, we want to be just Roberto and Alessia, a normal couple who go out and enjoy a normal life.

[Alessia] But our minds are always on the dance floor (laughing)

[Roberto] Because we spend a lot of time in the dance studio.

But what do you like to do together?

[Alessia] We spend a lot of time together

[Roberto] We work together, we go out together, we like to do sightseeing together

[Alessia] We like going out to restaurants together

What is your favourite food?

[Both] Pizza (laughing)

Italian food mainly?

[Roberto] Yes, for me yes!

[Alessia] No sushi, no

[Roberto] Maybe just a little bit of McDonald sometimes. But we definitely prefer Italian food for sure.

[Alessia] Only on Saturday (laughing)

[Roberto] Because we are on diet all week

Well, pizza is not very diet-friendly food. Lot's of calories

[Alessia] Yes! That's why we only allow ourselves a pizza at the weekend

Do you cook at home or eat out?

[Roberto] Alessia cooks for us. I am useless in the kitchen (laughing), a total disaster.

So do you cook Italian food, Alessia?

[Alessia] Yes, but usually fish, meat, salads. Sometimes pasta.

Is she a good cook?

[Both] Yes!

What kind of movies do you like?

[Roberto] It is a problem. Because she likes to watch romantic films and I don't like them. I prefer action, and fantasy. We both like Leonardo di Caprio...

[Alessia] I like Romeo and Juliette or Titanic

[Roberto] I don't like that. I like him in The Wolf of Wall Street! (laughing)

Do you go to the cinema?

[Roberto] Not really. We like open spaces (laughing). We like to walk the street or go to the seaside.

Do you watch dance videos?

[Alessia] All the time! Everyday.

Youtube?

[Roberto] Yes, also we watch on the Instagram. Social media

What social media do you use?

[Alessia] Instagram, Facebook

[Roberto] Only these two

What about Twitter or TikTok?

[Roberto] No, we do not use

[Alessia] We use Instagram a lot

Why?

[Roberto] Easy to use. You look at the story and quickly move to the next one. Quick to change.

What kind of music do you like?

[Alessia] Latin music

[Roberto] Italian melodies

[Alessia] Music from the Neapolitan region, singers singing in the local dialect from Naples.

What kind of music do you like to dance to?

[Alessia] Orchestral

With vocal or not?

[Roberto] Both

Do you like the Blackpool music?

[Roberto] Very much so

[Alessia] I get goosebumps!

[Roberto] When I close my eyes it brings me back to Blackpool. I always liked it, even before we were first dancing in Blackpool

Who is normally driving?

[Roberto] Me! (laughing) She is cooking and I am driving

Who is organising travel, tickets, hotels?

[Alessia] I am!

[Roberto] She has more patience and attention to details

What are your plans for the near future?

[Roberto] I have plans. I study at the university so I can have another career too. That I can have options.

What do you study?

[Roberto] Physical Education. But the most important goal for me is to be a great dancer and to continue our career in this field.

When do you think you will become Professionals?

[Roberto] I don't know. The priority for us now is to develop further in the Amateur field.

What are your plans for private life?

[Alessia] Who knows (laughing)

[Roberto] Hard to say as our priority is our dancing. It is difficult to have other goals. We stay together, we work together and we do a lot of things together. We are happy to be together and we imagine we will be together in the future too.

Do you argue at all? What was your argument about?

[Alessia] The biggest arguments always happen during practice

[Roberto] In life we have a very good relationship.

[Alessia] Our life depends on dancing, it is 99% dancing. So any issues we have, originate in dancing because we push ourselves so hard!

If you were able to change anything in dancing, what would you change?

[Roberto] I would eliminate all the politics in dancing. I would love for everybody to be able to dance together.

Which dance you like the most?

[Roberto] Rumba

[Alessia] Yes! When dancing Rumba I feel Roberto's protection.

DOes it mean your least favourite dancing is Paso Doble?

[Roberto] No, we like it too. We do not dance against each other.

[Alessia] We always create a love story. For instance, Paso Doble is a love story between a Spanish matador and a Gypsy girl, not a bullfight.

How did you manage to practise during Covid?

[Roberto] For the first part of the Covid pandemics we were separated. But after three months I joined her and we practiced in our living room!

[Alessia] It is small but adequate (laughing)

When was your first competition after the lockdown?

[Alessia] I think it was September 2020.

Do you think dancing will recover after what happened because of lockdowns?

[Roberto] Yes, yes, for sure. The studios are full now. People want to be on the floor.

How would you describe the character of each dance? In one word.

[Roberto] Cha Cha - enjoyment, Samba - Brazil, Rumba - passion, Paso Doble - red, Jive - fun

What is the difference between Cha Cha and Jive?

[Alessia] Cha Cha - being playful together, Jive - just fun, joking, playful with public

Do you have friends outside of dancing?

[Roberto] Not many, but we are friends with lots of other dancers.

What about your family? Do they support your dancing?

[Alessia] Always! They come to watch us, and both of our families help us. My Mum came to watch us dancing at the UK Open.

How do you manage to finance your dancing?

[Roberto] We work a lot. Also, our families help us financially.

Who designs your costumes?

[Roberto] Marianna Cardine, from the Italian Atelier in Naples. She is very good

Do you have many teachers?

[Roberto] We have two teachers: Alessio Tattoli and Cosmo Tattoli, they are brothers.

You don't go to any other lessons?

[Alessia] Sure, we do sometimes

[Roberto] But Alessio and Cosmo are our coaches and they sometimes suggested other teachers to study with.

Who does your choreography?

[Roberto] Our coaches

Are you planning to come to Blackpool?

[Roberto] Sure, sure. Hope to be there

Who was the first person who congratulated you after you won this competition?

[Roberto] Alessio Tattoli! He was with us every moment of this competition.

OK, thank you for spending time with us...

[Roberto] Let me just say one thing at the end of this interview. I would like to thank our families and our team, Team Vivo Latino, especially Alessio and Cosmo. They are not just our coaches but they give us enormous support. If we are tired or feeling down, they always find words of encouragement.

[Alessia] Before this competition I had a bit of a problem with my foot and we both thought we would have to miss the UK Open. In December I slipped down the stairs and twisted my ankle. I wasn't able to stand on my left foot for 29 days!

[Roberto] We started practising together again on the 1st January.

[Alessia] 10 days before the UK Open!

[Roberto] We prepared to the competition mentally. Without Alessio and Cosmo, it would have been impossible.

What is the most important thing for you in dancing, music, performance, or competing?

[Roberto] Emotions

[Alessia] Connection between us and the audience

[Roberto] Music evokes emotions

[Alessia] Love the ability to perform and portray my emotions with the movement of my body. The music completes the story...

Good luck in Blackpool!

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