We met with Wojciech Jeschke and Malgorzata Kowalska, the young couple from Poland who won the Amateur Rising Star Ballroom event at the UK Open 2013. Wojtek is a younger brother of Jacek Jeschke who, with his partner at the time Hanna Zudziewicz, won this event in 2011. We interviewed Jacek and Hanna two years ago - see the interview - and we joked about the possibility of interviewing the younger brother in due time. And how right we were! There is a definite resemblance in looks between the two brothers, but funnily enough between their partner as well. Wojtek and Malgosia are Polish Amateur Standard bronze medalists. See their results page.
You need to have an idea about your dancing and take the advice which you feel you need. You just cannot take all the information and practise it all. It is impossible
First, let me congratulate you on your fantastic results from yesterday. Would you consider them the best so far in your career?
[Wojtek]: It is one of the best. Probably the best. We also had a final in Blackpool last year, it was 5th place and the 2nd place at the International.
So you were very close to winning then?
[Wojtek]: Yes. And yesterday we won so we are very happy now! I wanted to say here that Malgosia and I are very grateful to all our teachers and in particular to Ruslan Butko for all the help and time he gave us. It wouldn't be possible to get to where we are now without them.
Can you please tell us how you first started dancing together?
[Wojtek]: I started dancing when I was six or seven. My Mum decided I had to dance so I did. I was still in kindergarten. Then I moved to a small dancing school (in Jelenia Gora, in Poland) and I was there for seven years. We did all the 10 dances. I stopped Latin about two years ago, when I was eighteen, and decided to do Ballroom only. So when I was twelve, Ruslan Butko came to our town he became my main teacher. I relocated to Warsaw with my brother Jacek when I was fourteen and we are now in Warsaw.
[Malgosia]: I started dancing when I was eleven years old. It is quite late nowadays to start dancing that age. In my home town (Czestochowa, Poland) there were some dancing shows and my Dad asked me if I wanted to do something like that. I said: OK. I started with the classical dance as there was no dancing school in my town. Then I learned acrobatic dance. After a while my Mum found a dancing school for me which taught Ballroom and I had to make a choice what to do. Ballroom required a lot of time. I chose the Ballroom dancing. I found a partner in Wroclaw and I moved there. When we split up I moved again for another partner to Zamosc, which is 500 kilometres away. I danced there for a year. Now I live in Warsaw where we train and we are happy here.
So you have met about two years ago?
How did you meet?
[Malgosia]: I split from my partner and my Mum called Wojtek's Mum because he also did not have a partner
Yes, but how did they know of each other? Malgorzata was in Zamosc and Wojtek was in Warsaw. There is quite a distance between these two towns.
[Wojtek]: I tried to find a partner and advertised
[Malgosia]: We were the same level, so you just know who is looking for a partner (laughing). We knew each other from the competitions. We also went to Italy for the training camp and Wojtek was alone there.
So your mothers arranged your try-out? So how was it?
[Wojtek]: Well, during the try-out I thought it was so-so... I thought it was not going to be good as Malgosia is shorter. But after training I was very happy, it felt very good dancing with her. So after that first training we decided to dance together.
[Malgosia]: It was just one training.
How long did it take you to prepare for the first competition?
[Wojtek]: Our first competition was Blackpool so it was very important for us...
[Malgosia]: I think it was after two months of dancing.
[Wojtek]: Yes, I think so. So our first one was Blackpool and we did the quarter-finals which we were very happy with.
[Malgosia]: It was difficult because Wojtek was finishing the school and had to sit the final exams then. It was very difficult to fit the practice in.
[Wojtek]: So, taking it all into account, we were happy with the results.
So, as exams are in May and June, did you manage to pass them before Blackpool?
[Wojtek]: Yes, I passed my exams and went to Blackpool.
Are you studying now?
[Wojtek]: Yes, I study the Administration at the Technical University in Warsaw.
[Malgosia]: I am still in high school. It is my last year.
[Wojtek]: So this year Malgosia will have her final exams just before Blackpool! (laughing)
[Malgosia]: Yes... and after that I may go to study Psychology, I am not sure yet.
It is not a surprise anymore to anybody that we ask this question: what do you like and dislike in your partner?
[Malgosia]: I like that he is very honest person. It is important. I can also say what I think is not correct and he respects that and treats me seriously. We can work together and it is very good.
[Wojtek]: I like that Malgosia is a very open person. She likes to talk to everybody around and it is very good for us. She is very friendly and thanks to that we have a very good contact with other dancers and teachers both from England and Italy. In dancing she is very flexible and easy to lead and work with. She could be dancing with the top people and I am glad she is my partner! (laughing)
And what do you dislike?
[Malgosia]: It is difficult because we have such a good relationship
[Wojtek]: I think this is very important to have such a good relationship when you are dancing together. But her biggest fault is that she talks too much sometimes!
Are you together privately as well?
[Wojtek]: No, we are not. I have a girlfriend and she is not from dancing. I met her back in high school. But back to your question: I am sorry, I don't know. Nothing to say (laughing).
What was your biggest argument ever?
[Malgosia]: I remember one during the Baltic Cup (laughing). I split from my boyfriend at the time and I said too much to Wojtek. I cried. But afterwards it was actually good...
[Wojtek]: We talked to each other then and we sorted it out.
[Malgosia]: I said to him it was not his fault, it was not because he did something wrong. It was me. It was not about dancing but private matters.
[Wojtek]: We don't argue about dancing really
[Malgosia]: I think it is because we talk to each other a lot and we talk about what we want from dancing. We agree what coaches we want to go to. It is good. I believe that this is important not to keep things inside you but speak up your mind. Often people don't say but keep things inside and that makes it a problem later.
How does your life outside of dancing look like? I understand you have friends who are not dancers. Do they know about your dancing?
[Wojtek]: Yes, they do know. All my friends know now what results I have but when I was younger it was difficult for me. When I was in primary school the boys from my class were laughing at me that I was dancing. It was seen as something the girls do.
[Malgosia]: I think sometimes it is better not to say that we are dancers. When we go to some dance club nobody wants to dance with us! They are too shy. But in my school everybody knows.
[Wojtek]: I have a real problem with clubbing actually. Because I am so tall and my limbs are too long (laughing). It is very difficult to dance in a club.
[Malgosia]: But I like going to clubs!
Malgosia, you just have your prom ball, didn't you? Did you both go?
[Malgosia]: No, no. I went with another good friend.
Did they ask you to make a bit of a show?
[Malgosia]: No, no. I just wanted to be like everybody else and not like a "star". And anyway, it is better that way. I can then dance with other people and they don't feel shy. I just want to be a normal girl from a small town who likes dancing and not a star.
Where do you go for your lessons and who with?
[Wojtek]: Our main coach is Ruslan Butko is Warsaw. We also take lessons in London with some English teachers and some in Italy with Fabio Selmi, Simona, Mirko Gozzoli, Michele Bonsignori
[Malgosia]: In Focus Team.
So you have many teachers? Do you find sometimes that advice given by different teachers may contradict each other?
[Wojtek]: Yes, maybe. And we have to choose what we need nowadays. You need to have an idea about your dancing and take the advice which you feel you need. You just cannot take all the information and practise it all. It is impossible.
Do you discuss that with anybody?
[Malgosia]: Yes, we do with each other and with our main coach. And we choose one direction which we feel is important right now. Every information is good but not on the same level.
[Wojtek]: Something may not be working and that information may not be right for that moment.
Are you dancing in WDC Amateur League?
[Wojtek]: At the moment we dance in both WDC and WDSF.
[Malgosia]: In Poland it is possible.
It is fantastic!
[Wojtek]: But I think the moment is coming and we will have to choose one federation. We will talk to our coach and other teachers and make a decision... We are here at the UK Open now, and many people at the WDC know our names so it looks like a good decision to stay with WDC AL but we don't know yet. We will see...
What are your plans for the future, for the next competition?
[Malgosia]: The next important competition for us is Polish Championships.
[Wojtek]: And then Blackpool
You will be dancing against your brother Jacek again?
[Wojtek]: Yes! And also, we will dance against each other tomorrow [UK Open Amateur Ballroom – Ed.]. My brother arrived today and tomorrow we will fight!
[Malgosia]: We have all the competitions decided for the whole year. We had to do that to be able to book lessons around that. And we must know when we can go for holiday! (laughing)
Do you go for holiday sometime?
[Wojtek]: Yes, we try to.
[Malgosia]: Not too much. Also, my Mother was sick, so last holiday I spent at home. I hope I will be able to go somewhere this year with my friend.
[Wojtek]: I also stayed at home last year in my home town of Jelenia Gora. My parents decided to do some house redecoration and I needed to help my Dad. But this year I hope to go to some really hot place!
Are you still under 21 this year?
[Wojtek]: Yes, we will be able to dance both Blackpool and International in the Under21 this year. And we are preparing for these competitions as they are really important for us. I hope we will still be able to do Blackpool this year...
Blackpool was allowed by WDSF last year
[Wojtek]: Yes, but we don't know about this year yet.
[Malgosia]: Sometimes it is better not to dance there if we want to go WDSF... There are lots of factors which you have to consider with your decisions...
What are you dreams now?
[Wojtek]: I have this dream, as I am a football fan and I support Man United, to be at the Old Trafford during some important game and watch them play. Some game like Man United vs Real Madrid... or Barcelona.
I am sure that can be arranged!
[Malgosia]: My dream is to go to Egypt and see the pyramids. I've never been there and must do it one day. I don't have time unfortunately.
OK, I wish you both realise your dreams then! Thank you very much for the interview.
All photos taken by Peter Suba