Interview with AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt
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Interview with AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt

Přidáno v neděle, 21 VI 2015, 22:14 autorem admin
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We talked to AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt who won the Under 21 Latin at Blackpool Festival 2015. Alex and Chloe were very, very happy with the result and the title of British Open champions they can add to their collection!

I always feel that we perform better under pressure, so having that pressure keeps us very motivated and very driven which can only be a good thing

Congratulations for this fantastic result on Saturday

[Chloe] Thank you very much

Probably you are very happy

[Chloe] Yes (laughing)

You will be now listed in the Blackpool programme forever as Under21 winners. What an achievement for such a young couple. How old are you?

[Chloe] I am 19 years old.

[AJ] And I am 20

So I guess you won't be able to dance this category next year

[AJ] No. That's why it was very important to us. And as you said, being part of the history, meant a lot to us.

OK, tell us how did you start dancing?

[Chloe] I was 7 years old when I started dancing. I actually started at the AJ's parents Dance School in Cheshire. My parents saw an advert for the dance classes Saturday morning and took me along. I caught the dancing bug and got the passion for it since.

[AJ] The school is called Pritchards Dance School and is located close to Manchester.

[Chloe] So, as I said, dancing became my passion since then. We started with all the ten dances, both Latin and Ballroom styles. We won all the Junior events in England. And also in Youth. We stopped Ballroom in January last year.

So you started together?

[AJ] Yes, we both only ever had one dance partner

[Chloe] ... each other

[AJ] I only ever had Chloe and Chloe had me (laughing)

It is unbelievable!

[AJ] I know! Because obviously many people change partners very quickly.

[Chloe] So our history is that boring (laughing)

So are you dancing together for 12 years already?

[AJ] I started dancing from the age of 12. That's when we got together. So it is 8 years now. I've never dance Juvenile. I started as a Junior. I started because I saw the TV program, and I wanted to be on TV. The opportunity was for a young dancer. I never danced. I took up dancing just to get on TV. So I started dancing with Chloe and really enjoyed it.

[Chloe] We had that unique connection I suppose.

[AJ] We live very close together as well. My parents own the school, so we just practise there. It has been very easy for us to work together.

So my next usual question would have been: how did you meet. But in this case, no point asking really (laughing). I guess that AJ's parents must have been delighted that their son finally took up dancing.

[AJ] No, not at all actually. They did not want me to dance. My Dad usually judges the international or British open competitions and would have been judging all of these but as soon as I started dancing it meant that he had to step back from all the judging. So he wanted me to be a footballer or anything but dancer. He knew as well how much hard work it would mean. So when I started to dance he was very hesitant. But he could not really stop me (laughing)

[Chloe] No (laughing).

Tell me how did you develop together then, how much work did it take

[Chloe] Since last May when we got the great result at Blackpool (in 2014) a lot has been happening for us. We've grown as a partnership. Results helped, added the confidence of course.

[AJ] In the last year we've concentrated on Latin. Before, we did both Ballroom and Latin and there was no time really to focus. But since last year, when we concentrated on Latin, everything seems to be coming together much better. And for us it is very clear. We go to competition we know exactly what we are trying to do rather than being split between styles each time. That's new for us but very good. We feel so focused and clear on what we want to show.

Where do you like to dance the most?

[Chloe] Preferably here in Blackpool because Blackpool is the best place to dance I feel. The atmosphere, music, even the competitors around you have that buzz, even if they treat you like a rival but there is still that buzz going on. You feel that, whether you are in the room, or in the hall. I find that incredible.

What do you like in dancing?

[AJ] I like working towards the competition, doing all that hard work, all that training and being able to go out the competition and just enjoy it. This is what I enjoy most, you've done the hard work and at the competition you just have fun. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I take all the stuff which is going on at the competition and when we get back to the studio, we are trying to fix it and build up work towards our next goal. So I enjoy this cycle from one competition to the next competition.

OK, so what are you trying to fix in your partner then?

[AJ] There aren't any problems! (laughing)

Come on, I always ask this question. You will have to make up something then! (laughing)

[AJ] Chloe doesn't worry about her clothes or make up. She is quite chilled.

[Chloe] I am quite a laid back person.

[AJ] Yes.

[Chloe] I don't get kind of stressed out. Whereas AJ....

[AJ] I can get uptight sometimes. AJ is a perfectionist as he said, so anything that isn't perfect is wrong basically. So he can be on your back constantly. Which is not a bad thing but it can get sometimes in way of him being himself or letting himself go. But also he is a great motivator. That's a great thing about him. He is a motivator between us and can keep us going whenever one of us is feeling down on a day.

Does it happen to you that you are feeling down?

[Chloe] Well, sometimes. AJ knows when I, kind of, feel like that. He is the Mr Motivator for me (laughing).

[AJ] It is great during the competition like that, that there are so many rounds to build up to that point in the final when you need to be ready. Whereas at the smaller competitions you have to be on your gave from the first round. But here it is nice to be able to warm up and get really ready for that final.

Which one of you is more emotional?

[Chloe] It is a good question...

[AJ] I don't know... Probably me.

[Chloe] Yeah....

[AJ] I just keep you on edge a lot of time. But that's me.

[Chloe] I say AJ is more on the emotional side. But it probably is the reason why he is such a good motivator

[AJ] Motivating through emotion, wanting to get it better until it feels nice. The feeling is very important for me.

[Chloe] I suppose it is a passion really.

Who is the brain between you in dancing?

[Chloe] Definitely AJ (laughing)

So AJ is emotional and he is the brain behind it, so what are you?

[AJ] She is the beauty (laughing). She puts on a nice sparkly dress, feeling great, just let her do her thing! (laughing)

[Chloe] I suppose, brain-wise, it is you more that me. But I would not say I don't have a brain! I'm not just the accessory.

[AJ] I think too much a lot of time. Whereas Chloe likes to break from that, and just go out and do what we practised rather than trying to think about it on the day. No, just go out and enjoy it. Just go out there, we are looking nice, have a nice dress on, make-up is good...

[Chloe] I tend not to worry too much about anything. I don't allow stresses and worries to get inside of my head. So that is how we complement each other in a way. If he is getting stressed out in a head, I am the one who, kind of, calms things down. We practised, we trained, there is not a lot more we can do now, so let's enjoy it.

So he is overthinking everything, right?

[Chloe] Yes, he is definitely Mr Overthinker for sure (laughing)

Who is making the decisions about your choreography, your clothes, your look?

[Chloe] I would say it happens between us. I wouldn't say there is anybody who has a huge influence on us in a way.

[AJ] It all comes down to feelings. It depends on the competition. We are always advancing and improving our choreography to suit our style. We are extremely lucky in that we can work with our designers, Pure Class, to produce outfits to suit each competition. At Blackpool we changed our outfits for the semi and the final and stepped onto the floor covered in the traditional sparkle that this competition demands and we believed it worked. Chloe and I were very happy. Chloe and I are similar in height so a lot of thought and consideration has to be given to the costumes, as they are a very important part of us winning.

Are you the same height?

[AJ] With shoes, yes, almost. I'm slightly taller.

[Chloe] There is like a smidge there! (laughing)

[AJ] Just the hair!

Who do you think is stronger in your partnership?

[Chloe] Obviously, in dancing, he is. He is more masculine.

[AJ] I feel that we both are, in our own way. Chloe has the opposites what I have. If we both were overthinking things it would be an awful partnership. But because Chloe has the opposite it helps me to stick to what we worked up during training. If I start to analyse everything which is great and a nightmare, Chloe helps me to beam myself out of myself and enjoy the competition. We work with each other assets which helps so much.

Are your parents now happy about your dancing?

[AJ] No mixed feelings now. They are very happy now (laughing). They knew, from the moment we started, there will be a lot of hard work but it is all paying out now. And they see I enjoy it so much and that makes them very happy. If they see I don't enjoy, they will be very unhappy.

[Chloe] My parents are not dancers. I come from a non-dancing background. I come from quite sporty family, more on a football side. I've never played football, ever. But they are very happy with me dancing. My Mum's left very proud on Saturday.

So are you parents here?

[Chloe] Just my Mum was here. My family were able to watch it on DSI TV and that was great.

But your parents, AJ, are both here?

[AJ] Yes. And they were very happy on Saturday as well.

You mentioned DSI TV. You are this generation which cannot imagine the world without Internet. So, I know you are visiting our website, but what other dancing related content do you visit on the Internet?

[Chloe] I wouldn't say I need to check any other website. This website keeps you up to date with everything in a way.

[AJ] Yes, keeps you in a loop with things like new partnerships so you don't feel left behind.

[Chloe] I don't really look at other websites.

[AJ] Obviously we look at YouTube. Everybody's got an IPhone, so easy to watch videos on the YouTube any time. I like to watch all the videos and get different inspirations, to try to get the feeling back especially when we get back home, back to the studio. You want to try get grabs from that feelings, that atmosphere back, all that clapping making you feel very special.

What do you use to communicate with your friends?

[AJ] Facebook, Instagram...

[Chloe] More Instagram than the Facebook.

[AJ] We are taking lots of photos.

Talking Facebook, what is your profile background now?

[AJ] Mine current one is the European Youth Latin Championships. I am standing on a podium, nice and tall, it was a great feeling! The European was our previous competition before Blackpool so I will probably change the pic soon for the Blackpool line-up (laughing).

[Chloe] I am trying to think now....

[AJ] You probably have the same one

[Chloe] Yes, you are right, I think I have. Since April, since that competition, it was almost like a drive to this one. It motivated us more to get back to the studio and make sure that this one ends the same way as the European.

[AJ] The European was a perfect test run for us. It was the same floor, same orchestra, everything was a perfect test run for this competition which paid off for us.

Many young English dancers look up to you, you certainly can be an inspiration for them and also you are a proof that the Ballroom dancing in England has a safe future. How does it make you feel, does it feel like a weight on your shoulders?

[Chloe] It is not a weight on our shoulders but an honour.

[AJ] It is nice to know that British audience, the crowd, will always be shouting for us. It's great. I always feel that we perform better under pressure, so having that pressure or honour, keeps us very motivated and very driven which can only be a good thing.

In most of the top couples nowadays partners come from different countries or are different nationalities. Sometimes it took them years to find each other, find the perfect partnership with each other. How come you were so lucky, having the same commitment, drive, talent, and also live near each other?

[AJ] We are unique in that sense. Chloe lives 20 minutes down the road, I only ever had one dance partner, we both represent the country we live in... And we actually know the lyrics of the national anthem as well (laughing)

How did you manage school work and dancing on a high level?

[Chloe] School definitely came second for sure. We explained that dancing is the future of our lives.

[AJ] They understood what we were trying to do and understood the amount of work and time we put in our dancing. They were actually quite happy to have somebody to do the shows sometimes for them.

[Chloe] We both came from schools which were very sport-oriented. It helped. The understood the passion behind sport anyway. It was a great help for when it came to be out of school for competitions.

However, dancing is not recognised as a sport in England

[Chloe] It is in between...

[AJ] It depends who you talk to. If you go to some organisation they say we cannot give you money because you are not sport, and then another organisation says we cannot give you money because you are not art. So we are in between. You cannot get help from any organisation in that respect. It is annoying.

What do you think dancing is then?

[AJ] I would class it as sport because we do competitions.

Going back to you using dancesportinfo website to keep you up to date with what is happening in dancing, what would you improve on our site, what is missing?

[Chloe] There is a selection of videos on your website but I would like to see more in that area. What I do often is search for a couple and then I can see a variety of photos for that one couple. This is brilliant because you don't have to look through the thousands of photos like elsewhere.

[AJ] So if I want to have a look at a picture, I always come to dancesportinfo because I know I can easily find it here.

[Chloe] When you come to a competition like here and you've seen dresses and outfits you later want to look back on them when you go home. So you look at the programme, get the name of a couple and type that name into your site and then you have the picture of that outfit you wanted to look at. I think it is brilliant in the fact that you can look back on things you might have missed or history.

[AJ] I would like to see more videos. People like videos, you get some much more from the video. So this is my suggestion because definitely this is what I would like to be able to see allocated to couples and so on. I enjoy watching videos.

[Chloe] Get the Instagram account...

[AJ] It would be great to be able to see our photos uploaded to dancesportinfo on Instagram. There will be so many more people looking at them, not just dancers. I think you could get another audience who would never go to dancesportinfo website.

What would you do if you had more free time?

[AJ] We would spend more time on dancing (laughing). This is what I'll do.

Any other interests apart from dancing?

[AJ] Say I had a long day in a studio, what I want to do to relax is to watch some movie. It can be anything really, just to help me take my mind off work. I get very focused on it, even when I am sitting down I keep on thinking what I have been doing in the studio or what I need to do tomorrow. Whereas when I watch a movie it takes my mind off it.

What is your favourite movie?

[AJ] My favourite film is Gladiator with Russel Crowe. If you haven't seen it, you've got to watch it!

[Chloe] If I had more time I would definitely go shopping. I am a shopaholic. I love shopping for clothes in particular.

[AJ] But she hasn't got money for it (laughing).

Do you ever buy your dance gear online?

[Chloe] I'd probably run myself dry, but there you go (laughing). ASOS is my favourite shop. You can get anything and everything from it. I love it, especially when you don't have much time, you just go online and order and you get posted to your house. It makes it a lot easier.

[Chloe] No

[AJ] We have worked very hard and are very lucky to have secured an excellent sponsorship for our clothing with the very prestigious Mark and Melanie Plant of Pure Class Bespoke Ltd. Our amazing sponsorship with Mariola and Barry Free of Supadance London Ltd ensure our feet are always wearing the ultimate dance shoes.

[Chloe] We are very lucky in that respect.

OK, thank you very much for talking to us. Best of luck for the future.

All photos taken on the day by Peter Suba