Andres and Veronika are our newest Sponsored Ballroom couple. They started dancing together in 2009 as Youth in Estonia and currently they have just taken the leap to Professional from Amateur, after taking a year break. Being 4 times National Amateur Champions in the US, the Blackpool Dance Festival will be their first competition as Professional. Popping into Chrisanne Clover to say hi I wanted to find out more about this striking couple…
Where did you grow up?
A: I am actually the brother of Liis End and Kristi Boyce so we all grew up in Estonia together :)
Oh wow ok and you used to dance with your sister Liis End is that right?
A: Yeh all my life I have danced with Liis! Then when I was 18 I started dancing with Veronika about 7-8 years ago, and then we moved to the US, Kristi is in the UK then Liis moved to Asia lol
So the Ends have all split across the globe! While you are in the UK do you stay with Kristi?
V: We come here to train, all of our coaches are here
A: When we stay here we try to go back to Bournemouth and see Warren, Kristi and Glenn but it is quite far so we rent an apartment in London while we are here.
The End’s are quite the dancing family!
A: Oh yeh, my Mum has a dance studio back in Estonia, for generations we have all been part of the dancing industry!
Are there any more brothers and sisters in your family that dance?
A: I have another sister but she doesn’t dance, she runs the dance studio in Estonia
V: she used to dance but not anymore
How long have you both been dancing together?
Both: about 8 years
A: It seems like forever but it has been 8 years :)
And you are married?
A: yes we are married…
V: we have been married 6 years
How long was it when you were dancing together that you became a couple?
V: We became boyfriend and girlfriend in the first year of dancing together
A: I was trying to get her to go out with me a year or 2 years before we danced together but she was very difficult to get lol. So the only way I could make this happen was for us to dance together haha
What is your favourite dance?
V: My favourite is Tango, it is quite exciting and fast and the music is so powerful
A: For me I actually like all of them. It kind’ve changes depending on my mood and the changes we may make to the routines
What are your highest achievements in dance?
A: Currently we are 4 times US National Champions in Amateur and we have just recently turned pro. We haven’t done a pro comp yet, our first one will actually be Blackpool.
In Amateur we also made the world final. U21 we won the International Championships and now that we are pro the next competition will be the rising stars in Blackpool.
When did you turn Pro?
A: Very recently actually and we haven’t competed in pro yet, we actually took a year off before we turned pro, mainly to sit back and see the dance industry from the outside and I think it is the only time you can take the time to look and evaluate your dancing and what direction you want to take. We danced the Nationals as Amateur one year ago, and now will be the first comp at Blackpool going into Professional.
How do you feel about going Pro in Blackpool?
A: Very excited and we cant wait to start already!
Have you had to change the way you dance your routines and your style by turning pro?
A: In fact I think we have become more confident in what we are doing especially when we took a break. I think as a dancer sometimes you can be so busy you don’t really see where you are going as you are trying to please everybody, and travel everywhere. But by taking the time to have a break and evaluate our dancing we could see the good years and bad years and what we did for both. We found out that when we danced our best and had the best results was when we danced with our style, so now we have got the confidence to do what we want to do our way.
What is your proudest dancing moment in your dancing career?
V: For me it was dancing in the US Nationals, it was a great atmosphere there…
A: It also was actually cool to be in the World Final because my sister was also at the time in the world final. Brother and sister dancing in different partnerships in the same final and that was pretty cool. But US Nationals was definitely special, and to win it 4 times definitely is a fantastic memory for us.
How do you feel the dancing differs in America compared to the UK?
A: That is a good question because I think it does differ in a certain way. I think in America you really have to get the audience to like you, it makes a very big impact to your result. I think this is one of the reasons we have won so many times at the Nationals. You have to dance full out, not so scared to do everything right. You need to give the audience a feeling so that they love what you do, not just dancing perfectly but with heart and soul. I feel this is something that is very different. In Blackpool there are so many teachers watching and judging that when you dance you have to dance to perfection, in the US we dance with a bit more risk.
Do the audience have more of an input to the overall mark in the US?
A: I guess the American audience are very loud so it does make an inpact. I used to dance in the UK a lot when I was younger and people in the UK are generally quieter, more reserved. In the US people are very vocal and more expressive with how they feel.
V: Yes if they don’t like it they let you know about it lol
A: So in America when you dance in the Nationals in the first round the audience can actually stand up, of course then it affects the judges opinion in a way because if the judges see the audience are routing for you, then of course they don’t want to give you a bad mark. Of course you have to dance good, but in the higher level everyone dances good and I guess you need that extra edge with the help of the audience.
I guess then when the audience has your back if makes you perform even better?
A: We feel we dance so much more full out with so much energy with the help of the audience
Would you say the dance fashion is much different in the US compared to the UK?
V: It is not much different but I would say dancers in the US experiment a lot more. I guess more risqué and experimentation with different looks and styles. Sometimes it can look good and sometimes it cant but they do experiment. In the UK there is probably less change and safer styles.
A: I guess it goes back to the audience thing where dancers try and be different to get the audience on side and noticed. To stand out and be noticed is very important.
So would you say floats are a big feature in the US?
V: I guess that’s part of the risk where some dancers will opt for no floats to be different. Everybody is used to floats but if a dancer doesn’t like them, she won’t be afraid to not have them.
What would you say is your dress style?
V: I would say shorter dresses, I am not keen on really long dresses…
A: She has always had it this way, she is almost known for this style
V: Yeh its not too short, but it’s a little shorter than the usual. Because we are a tall couple a very long dress can make us look too heavy and weighted – not in a good way. Even in the professionals there are tall couples, but we are even taller lol
A: We look a lot at the size of the Ballrooms we compete in and how that dress will work in a small Ballroom floor and a large Ballroom floor. If the Ballroom is smaller we want to make sure we don’t look too tall in relation to the Ballroom. We have put a lot of attention to this which is why Veronika’s dresses are a little shorter.
V: The colour of the dress really matters to me. I love classical colours like black, red and white. I also prefer brighter colours to pastel shades, colours that look bold on the dancefloor.
So what would you say is your colour at the moment?
V: Red is really good for me and also yellow. It depends on the competition and the lighting.
A: Sometimes we even like play around with the embellishment. We could have a dress covered in crystals, but for the final it could be a dress with no embellishment at all.
V: it really depends on the design of the dress on whether it needs crystals or not.
What competitions or dancefloors would you avoid wearing black?
A: If the Ballroom is smaller, a busy Ballroom or a darker Ballroom. So for a competition is brighter and well lit we may wear black. We don’t want to blend in - we want to stand out. If everyone goes white we will go black, I guess this has helped with our past success in the US because we always try and do the opposite.
Do you think it is a real advantage to you both being a tall couple on a busy Ballroom completion floor?
A: Now it is, but as junior it was terrible! If you make a mistake everyone sees your mistake lol
V: yeh the taller you are the better you need to dance because if you make a bad mistake it is really noticed!
A: In the US National final everyone is tall, so I would say if you are shorter there is a bit of a disadvantage also. I guess it depends on the generation – the next generation could be shorter and a tall couple could look a little clumsy. Although for now luckily for us everyone is so tall lol so it works for us.
What other types of dance inspire you?
V: We love ballet, ice skating and Latin dancing
A: We try and pull elements of other dance styles into our dancing.
V: Ballroom is really inspiring but we do it and we are in it and sometimes you need other dance elements to excite and influence.
A: You always need to search for something new and it can be much harder to do so when you are so in the thick of Ballroom dancing. Which is why it is crucial to look for other dance inspirations to take elements such as posture and how they move their bodies and incorporate a little into our dancing to make us bit more unique.
Have you danced ballet?
V: I used to go to the national ballet school.
A: We have a lot of show lessons in the US. One of the competitions in the US in the final you have 6 dances. 5 of them are Ballroom dances and then you have a show dance. The show dance is judged and can affect your final result, so the show dance has to be at a high level. To do these show dances your body needs to be very fit and very flexible.
How do you train?
V: Personally I do a lot of gym. But we also do a lot of practice we have 2 practices a day, one is early morning and the other in the daytime.
A: We normally start at 7am. That is our first 2 hour practice, then we do our teaching, it is another 2 or 3 hour practice, continue teaching then Veronika does the gym in between.
Do you train any differently before a major competition?
V: Training is pretty much the same, there are no more hours in the day lol. The only thing we do different is the type of training, the closer to a major competition we mainly try to recreate the situation we would expect in a competition, like more dancing in the row.
A: We dance like in the competition many times in rounds before a major competition. So when we are at a competition it is not the first time we have danced all the rounds. We also practice with our dresses and tailsuits we test it all with our dresses and steps and how it all works together so there are no surprises. In the competition it is a very different envioment than practice. We do alot more dress rehearsals, a lot of things can go wrong so we try to recreate it and imagine how we would do it differently and if it works
Who are your main dance trainers?
V: Brian and Christine McDonald in the US
A: In England we go to all the teachers. We have a good group of people that we work with. We still have the same trainers as when we were kids. I guess right now we are always searching for more information all the time. We are not scared to go and try new lessons, to search for more knowledge to take it to the next level. Every teacher can contribute somehow and it is really valuable.
How often do you come back to the UK for dance lessons?
A: Every 2 months for about a week. It can be quite an intense week and we try to have at least one day where we don’t dance, because we want to have a clear mind and process information and look at our strategy we are working towards before a competition. We try to have a one day break in England or wherever we are, to have a meeting with one another and reflect about our performance and to see where we are going.
What are your plans for the rest of year after the Blackpool Dance Festival?
A: It can be really busy after Blackpool. Straight away we come back to London 2 weeks after Blackpool as we have a show here, then we have a competition in Asia. We then fly to New York a few days later for a competition. We then fly back to Asia for another competition and then back to New York for the embassy in the summer in LA, then it is Nationals. So summer is really busy lol.
When do you have chance to stop and take a break?
A: On the go we do that lol
V: usually after Blackpool or after any major competititon we may take a couple of days off.
A: But I feel you don’t want to loose the momentum. I like this push for comps but you want to keep the momentum running. But you definitely need breaks to see if you are going in the right direction.
What do you do when you take the time to relax and have a break?
A: We have a secret spot where we go to lol
V: Where we live not too far we go somewhere to hike and climb mountains
A: There is a little city - Sedona in Arizona where we go, there is nothing around there only nature. We like to go there for 4 days, it is completely out of our normal environment. We don’t relax as such but lots of climbing mountains.
Any plans on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?!
V: lol not yet! But maybe in the future! Haha
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
A: I have learnt one lesson in life where if you say it out loud you may never get there. So I don’t want to say too much, but definitely will still be in the dance industry we love it so much and we will do whatever it takes to get as high as we possibly can.
Do you still see yourself in the US in 10 years time?
A: yes most definitely. We are completely settled there.
V: We love it so much. Everybody has their own perfect spot, for us it is definitely in the US. We fell in love with the US as soon as moved there.
A: For us it most definitely feels like home. We know everybody, we have titles there, work is there and we have really settled in the US.
Where about in the US do you live?
V: Los Angeles. Everybody calls it Los Angeles but it is so big! We are not directly in Los Angeles but a city next to it – which is still under Los Angeles lol.
A: Whoever says they are from LA are not from LA haha
Are there any interesting facts about yourself that we may not know about?
V: We actually love real estate. We invest and that is another passion of ours. We rent out homes and design them.
A: We both like it and we do it together. I guess it goes back to dancing where we like to create something, so we like to buy real estate and turn it into something special. That is definitely our other passion.
Who would you say is your most respected dancing opponent?
A: I would say in the US in Amateur it would probably be Oscar and Karolina. They were second in Nationals the four years we won. But every year it pushed us, we couldn’t get complacent cause they were training every day, we were training everyday. Every time they pushed us to do better otherwise they would win lol. In pro I think it has gone even bigger than that. I have huge respect for all the finalists they push us to train hard everyday.
Who are your dancing inspirations?
A: A very inspiring time was when John Wood and Marcus Hilton were dancing, what they did when they competed was a very exciting time. We look at those videos.
V: We love all those finalists including John Wood, Luca Baricchi, Mirko Gozzoli we watch these dancers a lot. Mirko went in a completely different direction – we try and look at every direction everybody made and what choices they made in their careers, these are all great champions.
Do you have an inspirational quote?
A: If you can dream it you can do it
Do you have any advice to your followers reading this?
V: Always listen to your teacher. Usually they are right!
A: Also I would say also do what you think is right. Everyday so many people out there will want to help you. With every lesson you take there is no teacher that will give you knowledge to harm you, they all want to help you. But sometimes you can get lost in pleasing people instead of believing what is right for you. Ultimately everybody gets to the point where they have to do their dancing, not somebody elses.
We wish Andres and Veronika the very best of luck dancing in Pro at the Blackpool Dance Festival!
You can follow them on their Facebook page HERE >
Watch Andres and Veronika dance on YouTube HERE >