Living For Dancing.

Carnival isn't over yet. As many of you are no doubt spending a lot of time dancing at parties and discos, we present here a few profiles of young people who really know how to get down and boogie.

With the success of the music of Santana, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and all the others, Latin American dances are enjoying a great comeback on dance floors around the world. Krzysiek and Ewa are international champion Latin American dancers, and their fashionable talents are keeping them very busy. Both just twenty years old, they have already been dancing for a very long time. Ewa began her career at the age of nine, just after seeing Dirty Dancing for the first time.

The couple frequently give performances and take part in numerous shows - most recently Maryla Rodowicz's concert in Warsaw's Torwar stadium. Asked what sort of person can be a good dancer, Ewa replies:" Really anyone who has got a sense of rhythm, an artistic feeling inside, endurance and commitment" .

Although they began dancing in both classes - standard (for example waltz, foxtrot) and Latin (samba, cha-cha, tango, etc.), now they dance and compete only in the Latin style. Krzysiek explains why Latin American dances are so attractive to them:" We chose Latin dancing because we feel so good doing it. Also Latin music is great, like Santana or Los Lobos. Whenever we hear the rumba or samba, we want to get into their fantastic rhythm and forget about everything else."

Love, passion and a sexy image

They also like Latin dances because they help them to express themselves. But what do they mean by that?" Some of the dances require theatrical skills as the dancers have to act out stories on the dance floor. Dancing the rumba we demonstrate love and passion between a man and a woman, where the woman seduces the man. This is my favourite!" laughs Ewa. Krzysztof adds," My favourite is the passo doble, where we depict a fight between a toreador and a bull, adding some elements of flamenco. The woman has the part of the toreador's red cloth, or she might even be the bull," Krzysiek smiles." In this particular dance it is the man who takes total control."

Krzysiek and Ewa make no distinction between the notions of hobby and profession. For them dancing is a way of life. The couple regard dancing as their career, and treat it very seriously.

Except of course for general fitness, Latin American dancers have to take great care of their appearance. On the dance floor they are expected to look like they've just stepped off a plane from Rio, so they have to spend a lot of time in solariums maintaining a deep tan. Their flamboyant, sexy clothes with sequins and feathers complete their exotic image.

What extra benefits does dancing bring?" Being in the international class, we travel a lot and take part in many foreign competitions and shows," says Ewa." We have also met famous people and distinguished artists. But the most important part of it is the immense joy dancing can give. Anyone who tries it will know what I mean."

Tough work

Aneta's favourite style is modern dance. A student at university in Kraków, Aneta took time off from her studies to take up a scholarship at a prestigious dance academy in Brussels. When she got back to Poland she began dancing at workshops led by Joe Alter, an American dancer who teaches in a private studio at the Warsaw Ballet School." My body needs dancing to such an extent that I feel very bad, in fact ill, when I do not or cannot dance," she says." It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction, but also can be stressful because it is very tough work. But I just love it." She recently took part in a hugely successful project prepared by her group, a performance called" Kissing through Glass" staged in Lublin and in Warsaw's

To become a professional, you must devote a great deal of time to dancing. Aneta, still semi-professional, practises in the studio every day except weekends for three hours. But while preparing for the last project the group was training five to six hours a day. Aneta had to fit her university studies around this tight schedule.

So what exactly is modern dance? According to Aneta," Modern dance was created in opposition to ballet. Its aim was to overthrow the principles of classical ballet dancing where the legs and feet are turned outwards and the body is held stiff. It's mainly based on 'contraction and release' principles, free and flexible movements. But nowadays these two styles are often combined and are used in one choreography."

Something really positive

Our last dancer, Natalia, a student of the Higher School of Medicine in Warsaw, dances an explosive crossover of styles. This includes the funky style, hip-hop, and more spectacular jazz dancing." Dancing gets me high and leaves me with a beautiful warm tiredness that allows me to totally relax. It lets me experience something really positive in life," she says." For me dance is an amazing combination of art and sport. Dancing is cool and groovy and gives everybody who is ready to loosen up a lot of fun."

She devotes every spare minute to dancing, either with her dance group, at a disco or at a dance workshop, of which there are several throughout Poland - the most popular in Bytom and

"Dancing is in my blood and that's why I want to combine my passion with my future career," says Natalia. She is planning to commit herself to choreotherapy - healing through music and dance." Thanks to dance, people can better understand themselves and accept their bodies and the way they are."

What is the difference between funky/hip-hop and jazz dance?" Jazz is more glamorous - it has elements of theatrical dancing, tap dancing and ballet, and a particularly black vibe. Whereas funky dancing, rap and hip-hop are more simple - mostly bouncing, hopping and jumping to very fast and rhythmic music. But still it takes you really, really high!" she laughs.

Asked where she wants dancing to go in the new millennium, she answers: " I would ike everybody to dance, and get pleasure from it. If only all the people in the world danced, life would be so much easier!"