Diana Kicia/ Dance is the meaning of my life13 min read
The sport was always a big part of my daily life since I was 5 years old starting with dance, handball, karate, and …dance.
Like Michal Malitowski said, “Dance is a beautiful combination of sport and art!”
The dance is for me like as emotional euphoria, makes me free. You completely devote yourself to the music and through the beautiful synchronized movements express your feelings to touch the heart of the audience. The challenge of that art performance is that dancers take different roles unexpected during the competition depending on the song character and need to use his/her own interpretation of the music. During the show, one can of course plan this kind of interpretation to the music he/she wishes to dance. In ten dances there are two different disciplines Ballroom-Standard: English Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Slow fox, Tango, and Quickstep and Latin: Samba, Chachacha, Rumba, Pasodoble, and Jive. Each dance has its own story and character. In Ballroom dancing I use to fly in the sky like a Polish Eagle among Vikings, present elegance and grace. In Latin I love to express charm, charisma, love, passion, and temperament. Dedication to dance is an automatic connection between the dancer and the audience. You can easily read who is just making figures and who is feeling the music. I love dancing, the discipline, routine and dedication are important. So I use the possibilities on my way and completed different programs:
ProAm – the Professional Amateur program is about having a trainer and student which she/he prepares for a competition or shows by private lessons.
Artistic Ballroom is about solo dancing in an artistic way by using arms and more expression and telling stories in the upper body.
Trainer for all ages – basics for trainers.
Technique Student-Teacher – this is a course of 10 dances in technique basics based on World DanceSport Federation completed with a certificate to teach other students. I will explain that deeper, later, extremely interesting.
Individual workout program adapted to prepare the body for dancing.
In Poland (where I come from) I was dancing Standard, Latin, and modern dance as a child in 3 years’ at age 6 to 9 but my school has been moved to another city and my parents did not have money to continue. So of these economic reasons, I was heartbroken. The magic and dance dream has been frozen for years. At the age of 34 (in 2016) I discovered a dance school 5 kilometers from my home in Stockholm and next day started to continue my dream. During the first year, I did not have a car so I took two buses late evenings as the connection there was not so good. Working full time, supporting my son with his karate training it was difficult to handle. My son was becoming a teenager and also wanted to spend more of his time with his friends than me. We moved as per dangerous circumstances in the area we were living to another site of the town and it was too far away from the club so we slowly finished karate with his result of brown belt. However, my love to dance and determination to achieve goals and dreams was stronger. The main goal from the beginning was to start to dance in a couple in a normal system with a dream about competing internationally on an elite level and attend World championships, competitions in Blackpool, Rome, and Moscow. This goal I was explaining from the beginning, however not always respected.
I started my ProAm program in 2016 in Stockholm because of the lack of male dance partners. I got a trainer who manipulated and tried to destroy my reputation at the same time his efforts and work. My problems at work started then too. There were also some old conflicts between dancers/clubs I figured out later on. I used also my wellness allowance from work to train dance and I am very thankful that we have this possibility and wanted to use it effectively by building a new competence. In this situation, I needed to search for other opportunities to grow. I traveled to Warsaw during my vacation in the pursuit of knowledge and found out about a newly opened DansinnByMalitowski school. The owners of the school are Michal Malitowski and Joanna Leunis World Champions in Latin dancing 9 times. I think no one can underestimate their achievements and incredible knowledge which they share daily with other dancers all over the world. I got two trainers there, one in each discipline and it was an amazing experience to meet my countrymen. They respected my expectations and we worked hard together to achieve the common goal. After that, we competed successfully at Warsaw International Dance Championships which happens every year in September.
This will be one of the best memories of my life. Working with this kind of program requires also long experience, dignity, creativity, patience, and loyalty from trainers. Understanding of the importance of the goal and plan how to execute it. Building a real relation-partnership requires trust and dedication for People with a positive intention. My trainers in Poland used to take lessons from Dance World legends like Joanna Leunis, Bryan Watson, Justyna Hawkins, Andrew Sinkinson and shared this knowledge, technique, and exercises with me. I even had the honor to meet and get lessons from some of them. They teach not only physically but also mentally “The Heaven exists if the work is done on Earth” –Joanna Leunis, helping us to stay inspired, motivated and humble.
Every teacher is unique and has some different skills you can catch the ones you feel are suitable just for you as an individual. I follow many talented experienced dancers and teachers to research their styles and to find my own unique one. I never compare them and do not like it when other compare them, my blood boils as we in Poland are taught to respect teachers. I hear sometimes here in Sweden some critique which teacher is better than other, this is not interesting for me I am there to learn, this also destroys a positive atmosphere and I observe that many dancers lose their fire to dance. The problem of favoritism dancers is also visible especially in a country with a 10 mln population. Some people need to understand that we need to be treated equally based on our qualifications otherwise we will soon have no couples to compete with each other. This also destroys the hard work of many volunteers – beautiful dance souls who use their free time for us to build opportunities and make competitions and camps happen.
After 2 years of dancing in ProAm I decided to switch to the normal system and got a dance partner who was not on my level with different goals and who tried to stop me from my development with cooperation with another trainer behind my back, this kind of intrigues I smell from miles away. So I started to dance Solo Artistic Ballroom parallel to grow as soon as possible. It was a very stressful time for me during competition season when I had a competition every week. I lost a lot of kilos and got sick. Even with almost a 40-degree fever, I was still competing but I ended up last. This was a challenge but I wanted to test my body’s limits.
In my next competition Swedish Championship, I ranked second place in Ballroom and Latin in my category in Swedish Dance League 2019. So mine and my teacher’s hard work showed some effects. One step forward. However Artistic Ballroom was not my strong skill as I did not feel comfortable with my waving arms and observed that this style destroyed my posture and footwork which I trained many hours in ProAm. The things I liked about the Artistic Ballroom style was performing and beautiful outfits, feeling like in a fairy tale (pol. baśń). I felt that I want to still keep dance as a sport and teach later on so I took a 1-year course called Student-Teacher based on World DanceSport Federation. This was a very hard year for me to understand the technique of 10 dances for leader and follower with 10 different choreographies however I found a way and a plan how to learn and got support from the club and international teachers.
The challenge was also to quickly learn about different organizations like WDSF, WADF, WDC, WDO, IDO, Freedom to Dance, DSF, SDL, and understand their rules and culture. As earlier mentioned I had also problems at work because of jealous people and one of my brothers died suddenly. So finding motivation was difficult especially when some people try to make you look like a crazy person, when I react, was honest about the problem and defend myself or others on some intrigues while still fighting consequently for my dreams. I heard that I am too old to dance some figures, that I should dance in the Seniors category, that I will never become a Swedish Champion in the adult category, that I decrease the level of quality of A-class (highest) dancers in Sweden when I join their lessons as I am a ProAm dancer without understanding that taking many private lessons in ProAm under an intensive period of time can be a similar quantity of their private lessons in the normal system under longer time. During my first year, I could not free train in the club because they told me that I was not competing yet, that my dancing is trashy. Sometimes I felt heartbroken because I admire them, enjoy watching them competing, cheering them, and training with them. My conscience did not let others pull me down. I know I still had amazing people around me who like me and know me well so I kept surrounding myself with them and focused on the positives, this helped me keep persistence. Thanks to these people the situation is changing slowly to positive, which is appreciated by me. Someone said, “The human is not aware of what he can handle until he is forced to handle”.
A common problem in dancing is the lack of male dancers. Solo girls have a difficult situation as they are not so visible or recognized. The most focus is on couples. This can feel boring. My son Arash Mateusz is my biggest support. I remember I was driving back from the competition with him, it was raining all the way, I was so tired and asked him if he could talk to me all the time so I do not fall asleep, he is caring and motivating me to do not give up. I did 13 competitions in 2019 no one mentioned it as someone wanted to hide my achievements. Fortunately, I have also my friends here who support me including my private photographer Barbara Guza who even follows me on competitions sometimes. I am very thankful for having all these beautiful people all over the world who are cheering on me.
One of my favorite competition was in Italy Roma Cup. I got information about that almost two weeks before, and I desperately booked everything in one day to get there. It was five days of up and down situations. My hotel in Rome was a real catastrophe dirty but close to the central station. The competition would take place in the town called Cassino 1,5 h from Rome by train. I was so excited but in Cassino central station there was no bus or a taxi to the event so I walked 4,5 kilometers there in 26 degrees in my rain jacket by the highway sweating with my bag full of clothes and laptop (as I was working from Rome office in the meantime). So in this determination to archive a goal I got there. The atmosphere was amazing both from the board of teachers, dancers, and organizers. I enjoyed both competitions and gained a lot of knowledge from dance legends. There I met also teachers Barbara Mccoll and Graham Oswick for my teachers which was for me so unexpected. On my way back passengers waiting for early flights were dropped from the airport because of the policy there, so we needed to wait outside 4 hours at night. In the beginning, it was boring and cold, suddenly one Polish couple of dancers appeared there so we of course united and started to dance with other passengers while the security guard has played music for us. So I got new friends, am still in touch with this dancing couple. You know sometimes you get friends for life you do not see them often and when you meet they light our life up.
On the last competition in 2019 Nordic Open in Katrineholm representing Sweden I lost my heels on the dance floor but managed to win second place in Standard dances. I lost in Latin in the last place however won the next competition after that.
The WADF World Artistic Dance Federation (connected to WDSF World DanceSport Federation) organizes competitions for Solo girls which is very good because it opens an opportu nity to develop in her tempo and also makes a girl independent of a boy who f. ex suddenly jumping off a competition a week before as it happened to me. However, I wish there was some international project to help these girls who have a goal dancing in a couple, to find dance partners especially the ones who are talented and develop quickly who invest a lot of time, energy, and money in private lessons, competitions, and clothes. I wish someone improve girls’ perspective, make them move visible, promote them, make them ambassadors, and use their full potential so one can see the effect of their effort. The fire and drive are strong in me, so many hours of regular training and competing is a possibility for me to explore it.
Before the COVID19 pandemic in October 2019 opened a new Air Dance online school with top dancers and teachers in Warsaw like f. ex Joanna Leunis, Michal Malitowski, Maurizio Vescovo, Vladimir Sharapov, Aleksandra and Lucas Tomczak, Kristina Moshenskaya and Marius Balan, Olga Kulikova and Dmitry Zharkov, Sara and Andrea Ghiagarelli, who help us gain knowledge directly from home. I had even the opportunity to take online lessons from World Champions in Standard Annette Sudol and Simone Segatori. After that in 2020, I attended also a dance camp with Paolo Bosco and Alina Nowak. I had also the pleasure to join a Consulting and Psychotherapy session about the very important subject of Motivation with an expert Rudolf Vermeij, especially in these uncertain times. He talked about the meaning of our dance, over-identification, objectification, love, desire, confidence, and remember to respect each other. This is also very appreciated.
I am a proud Polish woman and always wanted to represent my country or the country where I live. So the design of my dance clothes is also original to show where my heart belongs to and is divided as of this strong band because my son is born in Sweden. This aspect of the outfit is sometimes problematic because of the high cost so I try to find sustainable solutions like sewing my creations.
Currently five years after my dancing in Sweden I have a dance partner in ten dances and belong to elite investment Team Sweden to proudly represent this country in international competitions. I enjoy it when we can build solidarity and integrity, help each other, create new things together, can achieve our common goals together. This is what a real sports spirit is about. I believe this energizes and unites us. I would like to see the growth of the number of dancers in Sweden and our quality of dancing in the international arena. The strongest ranking uses to have Russia and Italy but I would love to see Sweden even stronger. To break some stereotypes. I am glad and appreciative that we have teams who work on that. We can invite guest teachers (of course it depends who decides and belong to the club board), attend camps and I would like us to attend international camps to exchange knowledge, develop a network, and understand dance from different perspectives.
However, some people could be more open-minded. Many dancers end their careers too early because of politics, what is worrying me that there are already young ones (youth category). Some are choosing to focus on one discipline (often Latin) because of their dance partner’s preference. The consequences are that a very talented ten dance dancers lose Standard discipline skills and muscle memory he/she worked on for such a long time. To keep both disciplines, we would need to change our approach and mindset to build integrity and find solutions to reach common goals for clubs, dancers, and teachers to use better resources like f. ex dancing with two dance partners each discipline parallel like I had the opportunity in ProAm. “If there are no dancers there is no work for teachers” – Lasse Odegaard. In Stockholm, we use to create a common lesson for groups in Standard and Latin for the same period and same prize to include all to join both disciplines there is not lower cost for Latin dancers only. So our (dancers) development “is about maximizing our opportunities” Ann Wilson. My biggest dream is to include ten dances in the Olympic games as we dancers train like all other sportswomen and sportsmen.
Stay safe, open your wings, keep dancing, and let your shine bright.
With Love. Diana Kicia.