The interview with Philip Raabe a Swedish Elite Dancer from Gothenburg living in Oslo, Representing Swedish National Team in Ten Dances in World Dance Sport Federation. The youngest participant of “Skal vi Danse” –Shell we dance program in Norway.
Interview by Diana Kicia.
When and where did you start your dance journey and what dance means for you?
I started my dance career after I watched Let’s Dance I was then 5 years old. I had an accident when I was younger and I was sitting in the wheelchair for a month. During that time, I was watching a Let’s dance program and started to feel the rhythm and dance with the wheelchair. After that, I asked my mom if I should start dancing she said of course but we need to start step by step so I will get wheeler. So I started my dance career in Gothenburg and it just grew.
I wanted to build this up and moved to Norway at the age of sixteen and started there on a higher level. It was difficult in the beginning, I even was talking to my picture by the dinner when I came back from school when I was living alone in Oslo and my parents have been working in Sweden. I needed to learn Norwegian fast to adapt and it got easier at school, I got new friends also. Dancing for me is everything. When I start to dance everything in me feels free, I feel the rhythm, music and what comes out is of course expression of myself.
The dance takes a big space in my heart and it will always be in my heart.
Do you see any difference in dancing in Norway or Sweden? Do you observe similar politics in dance sport?
Both countries are almost similar, it is harder competition in Norway I think, and the politic is everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you dance well. For me in Norway is a little bit better because we have better communication between other countries. We help each other with trainers we talk to each other. In Sweden it is limited we hold it just in Sweden, so it would be nice to see have more help from other teachers to become better dancers, more extended trainers, more camps.
You are half Hungarian half Swedish do you identify some signs in your character about that?
Yes, and No, from my father Peter who is Hungarian I got a social side, the mind to care about People, and from my mother Carin who is Swedish I am not giving up, I am training and working harder. So from my father is more about communication with other people and from my mother more about dancing.
Who is your biggest support in development within a dance career?
My parents, thanks to them and my trainers I could develop. You need a good team and parents who support you, it is very important.
What are your biggest achievements within dance sport?
I have been dancing everywhere in Europe and out of Europe. I attended seven dance World championships and two European championships. This was my goal since I was a child.
When I joined my first World Championships I started to think about what should I do next. So I started to push more and I ended up with nine total championships in the World.
And your best result in the World is?
If I remember well, 35.
In 2020 you performed in Let’s Dance Norway with Paralympians Birgit Skarstein, how did you feel about it, we heard that you both trained a lot double passes a day?
It is the first time for me to train a person in a wheelchair and community to show People that everyone can dance. There were a lot of discussions about dance in this way. I read a lot of unnecessary comments in newspapers. No one said that dance needs to be done on legs, dance is about the expression of your whole body to the music. I believe that everyone can dance. It is hard to watch that People do not care about others who want to try something new and when they work hard and they already get hate about it. So it was sometimes a disrespectful approach. We have shown everybody that everyone can dance. This is also a reason why we with Birgit trained so much because we wanted to prove that. She has controlled the movements around the wheelchair and technique about it and that’s what people didn’t understand. For me, the golden rule about dancing should be that everyone can dance not only within competition but also to express themselves.
What are your other talents except for an unbelievable performer which we could enjoy also at dance competitions in Sweden and internationally, do you teach dance?
One of my best talents is that I do not want to give up. If I set a goal I do it for 100%, just do it. So if I get some advice from my trainer to change something there is no discussion about it I just do it. If someone tells me to run, I do not do it for fun I run for 100%. I am also good at ice skating. I teach dance generally but not now during Covid 19.
How do you find your spirit in dance competition challenge to share your emotions?
When the music is starting to play there is something in my body that follows, the motion comes out, because you are in it, you can easily see if someone is in the music or out of the music. You can observe the movement and what happens in the mind. When I watch my videos afterward I just devote myself to the music during competitions.
How do you mentally manage hard training and intensive competition period, is there anyone who provide motivation training for you?
I am fully focused on the competition, consider what to do and what do not to do. A few days before I am more concentrated on performing, musicality not so much on technique. As you know I have a very good relation with my family who are the biggest motivation for me because they were also top ice-skating performers. So I want to push myself to be as good as them. So from my perspective 100% or nothing, that should be a goal about dancing in case one wants to compete.
Who were and are your biggest icons within dance and why?
The biggest icon for me is the current World Champion in Latin Armen Tsaturyan from Russia. I always liked him even before he proved his level and he is very good at the technique, musicality and funny to watch. From ballroom Evaldas Sodeika from Lithuania. Privately for sure, my family are my icons.
What drives you? You had many challenges, a few dance partners to whom you have been traveling.
For the first is fun to dance, I like to give my soul and passion I have since I was little. I was traveling since I was fifteen years old. First I traveled from Gothenburg to Oslo, then after one year I moved to Oslo to dance partner Celine Cleve for 1,5 years, after the change of dance partner Marthea Oen I traveled to Bergen, then it stopped suddenly. So then I traveled in 1,5 years to a new partner Christine Brammer to Copenhagen. So I traveled a lot and I did this because of my passion to dance and I like to show people that it doesn’t matter if you live close or far away everything is possible if you want something very much. You just need to have the right mindset. You have to sacrifice. I have been sacrificing in maybe 3-4 years when all my friends were going to party I couldn’t because I was training. When they had fun I had fun in another way.
As an experienced dancer, what would you tell to younger dancers who lose their motivation?
First of all, just keep going, follow your heart and mind. If you work hard and keep going you will achieve your goals for sure. It is all about your mindset. If you will have a positive mindset then it will be easier to train harder, to eat well, and your motivation will go up. The first thing is your team you have around you, it will be your parents, your trainers, your physiologist. If you stack in the level and you cannot develop more you can try something similar, some dance style or sports discipline to train and find new muscles and motoric in your body to improve. Or if this does not help change a sport discipline, go to the gym. I tried Zumba to get another rhythm in my body to get a better effect in my dancing.
What are your 3 biggest dreams, will you come back on the dance competition floor?
My biggest dream is to dance as I do right now. I belong to the team Shell we dance. I cannot tell you if I will come back to the competition floor. It is all about traveling in many years which I experience and I was flying every week and I was exhausted from that and I needed a break from traveling but I am still dancing and training as I did before so I can come back to the competition floor whenever I want.
Do you plan to open your dance school in the future?
We are starting to build up to something new in Norway about professionals with Shell we dance because we believe that People should dance more. Not because to compete but to try it to understand and feel what we are talking about to express ourselves. When I am dancing I am switching off everything around me. I do not know if someone is watching me I am just feeling the music. I am floating with the music which is a very nice feeling. I think this is important for people to dance.