Interview with Emese Farsang Bengtsberg, a Hungarian artist who moved to Sweden a few years ago. She currently lives in Stockholm with her Swedish husband, Robert. She has a degree in theatre and film acting and TV Show producing from Hungary. She is a graduate of Kulturama as a musical artist and has a degree as Ballroom and Latin dance teacher. She sings, she acts and she is a professional dancer. Emese actively represents Sweden at international competitions in Ballroom dancing, together with her dance partner Per Almberg.They are top-ranked in Latin American dances in Sweden, winner of Bronze medal of the Swedish 10 Dance Championship and finalists of national and international latin competitions. After many achievements, this summer they opened their own dancesport club, Östermalms Dansklubb that they manage in the heart of Stockholm.
The Designer had the possibility to talk with Emese.
When and where did you start your artistic journey?
I believe the journey started with being born into a music loving family. None of our parents were professional musicians, they just loved music and they took me to classical music concerts when I was only 3. I have an older sister, she plays the piano and the violin and is also a soprano opera singer. I have always been between two worlds. I play the piano and studied classical music and musical singing. When I was 7, I started with Ballroom dancing. I have been surrounded by music and dancing since a very early age.
Who were and are your biggest icons within art, musical, dance and why?
I never really had one big icon. I can say in dancesport I have some favorite dancers that I really like to watch, like Daniella Karagach, Nino Dzneladze, and Anastasia Dobrovskaya. I like how they catch the attention of the audience, they dare to be different and that is interesting. In musical I would rather say I have favorite musicals and roles. For sure my favorite musical is Sylvester Levay’s and Michael Kunze’s: Elisabeth.
What does artistic creation mean to you, what are your favorite arts you did?
It would be easiest to define what I am. Nowadays if people ask me I tell them I am a professional Ballroom and Latin dancer.. I dance, practice, and teach 4-10 hours per day, I travel the World and compete and I absolutely adore every moment of it. But there was a time when I took a quite long break from Ballroom dancing and I studied to be an actress in Hungary. I played in several theaters in dramas and musicals, worked in TV, did some filming, and even choreographed a play. But during that time I kept dancing and focusing more on dance styles that don’t require a permanent dance partner such as contemporary dance, ballet, jazz and contact dance. Back to your question, „what does artistic creation mean to me”. For me, there is something about performing live. To dance, to sing a song, to perform a scene in front of a live audience that is involved and gets touched by that performance and maybe take home a little part of it.
Do you see any difference in acting in Hungary and Sweden?
Well, they are two different nations with different backgrounds and culture, and do not forget the fact that Swedish is my third language. I will never sound completely Swedish. We also learn different acting methods, all of them are great to use. At the end of the day, the actor chooses what the best for his/her performance is to develop the character.
Who is your biggest support in development within your theatrical career?
Every director I worked with could give me something new. Every new character and rehearsal gives me something that I will put in my “backpack” as an artist and use in the future.
In 2019 you played in a musical “Made in Dagenham” at Kulturama in Stockholm, the subject with a very strong message, how did you feel about it?
Made in Dagenham is a musical by David Arnold, Richard Thomas, and Richard Bean and it is based on the Ford sewing machinists strike in 1968 for equal pay for men and women. It was the Scandinavian premiere and directed by Johan Schildt. This musical has a very strong message that can be relevant even in 2021. The music is sensational and I have never laughed and cried at the same time as much as during this rehearsal time.
You have many talents from dance: ballet, ballroom, zumba, design of clothes, singing and acting. What is your biggest focus?
It is weird, I never understood why people use the expression “talent” in my case. Talent is something I would be naturally good at without being taught. I learned everything. I love to study and analyze things. The technique for singing, for dancing and for acting. Behind every note I sing and every step I take on the dance floor, there is an amazing mentor for each. So I would rather use the term, hard work, and dedication. I love to work with music, I learned to play two instruments, I learned classical and musical singing, I learned to dance Ballroom and latin, ballet, contemporary and jazz. I design latin costumes, but that is only a huge hobby of mine, almost every dance dress I wear at competitions are my own creations called MSE design. I am also a Zumba Latin Fitness instructor. It is great training for me too, and I love to choreograph my own programs for my students. The only “true talent” I have is having a good musical ear which runs in the family.
How do you find your spirit in dance competition challenge to share your emotions?
I am actually usually very nervous before I go on the floor. I feel I put a lot of pressure on myself to nail everything that day and I hope my body will not fail me. But that nervousness really just means I care so much, that makes me a better competitor. The second they turn on the music I feel alive and somehow I just let myself use the music as my best friend and enjoy dancing to it. But it also helps that I share those moments with my real-time best friend, my dance partner. We are never alone and work as a team, both of us fighting for our success together and create something that can be magical on the floor.
How do you mentally manage hard training and intensive competition period, is there anyone who provide motivation training for you?
I have attended some motivation classes before with psychologists. They helped a lot on how to have the right mindset during competitions and during preparation period. But we as a couple are surrounded by an amazing team of teachers, coaches, physiotherapists and someone to help with our diet. All of these things help us to stay mentally and physically strong. And as a couple, we always find motivation to develop.
What drives you?
Every single person in my family and all my friends support me which I am extremely grateful for and that is enough to believe in myself, even if there are harder days for everyone.
As an experienced dancer what would you tell younger dancers who lose their motivation?
Right now it is a very hard time to stay motivated for everyone. Now it is the time to work hard and come back on the floor even stronger. I would tell them to cherish the years they have in front of them, the strength their body has, and the possibilities they can get in the future. I took a break because of my studies when I should have competed the most, I am extremely happy to be back on the floor a bit older but wiser also. So if you lose motivation, maybe you will get it back. That is my experience. I just hope as a teacher I can get you back or keep you on the floor.
As you just mentioned, you are also a dance teacher and you recently opened your dancesport club with your dance partner, Per. What drives you in teaching and what is your main goal with it?
My very first dance teaching lesson was when I was around 16-17. My dance partner was the young teacher at the club I danced in Hungary, and I occasionally became a substitute and an assistant for him, I learned a lot during that period. When I came back to the Ballroom dancing world in SwedenI almost immediately started to help out with classes while few of us in the club got the opportunity to educate ourselves through the Swedish Dancesport Federation. One day when I leave the amateur league and turn professional I hope to become a judge, I am currently teaching at Alemana Dansklubb and Balettakademin and I manage Östermalms Dansklubb. I have several private students, couples and solo dancers.
This year my dance partner Per Almberg and I opened our own dancesport club, called Östermalms Dansklubb. We started with a few classes during the autumn that are all adapted to the current covid circumstances. We have limited participants so everyone gets enough space and we have great emphasis on hygiene and a no partner change policy. Luckily we have been growing since last season and have more classes. We also provide private lessons for competitors and beginners and workshops for all the levels, we are booked up for the summer with wedding couples. I feel very comfortable leading a class, I am quite musical, I loveto introduce a new dance by first showing my students the music we dance to and talk about the historical background. Per and I always tell anecdotes on dances while we teach tecnique and this keeps the students motivated and inspired. We bring them knowledge from top teachers of the world. Our main goal is to grow Ballroom dancing and to introduce this beautiful sport and art to everyone.
What kind of dance styles do you provide?
- We have a dance mix for children with different levels. This is a special class where we introduce music and rhythm, they will take their first dance steps on the floor. This age group is around 5-12 and they get a little taste of many dance styles like jazz, ballet, and even street but the main focus is on ballroom and latin. We also follow the trends and have been educating ourselves on some cool dances from TikTok.
- We have ballroom and latin classes for grownups and Zumba Dance Fitness for those who loves to mix fitness with latin rhythms. We have private lessons for ballroom and latin dances and wedding couples. We have workshops for competitors and you can even book us for an event to come and hold a class in Ballroom or latin, Zumba fitness or Heels dance.
What are your 3 biggest dreams?
If you are asking 3 biggest dreams that are connected to my carreer, I would like to keep having the most exciting job, being an artist, stand on stage and create with other artists. Growing as a dancer and a dance teacher.
Interview by Diana Kicia.