Balboa Interviews

Love Balboa put their ‘Swing Journalist’ hat on and in January 2012 interviewed Zack Richard and Maryse Lebeau, ahead of their appearance at The Love Balboa Weekend Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne, 2nd - 4th March 2012. Read on and laugh, be inspired and discover their charismatic personalities and true passion for Balboa, and what it can bring to your life!

Love Balboa: Why do you Love Balboa?
Zack: I don’t! Haha, seriously, it’s subtle, full of subtleties, a real dancer’s dance. There are lots of subtleties that you can’t get in other Swing dances. And I can get closer to the ladies
Maryse: Typical! Although I have to agree that it is a subtle dance. As a follower the challenge is to respond well to Balboa timing, as it is rhythm based dance. It really pushes your limits as a dancer.

LB: What’s the craziest place you’ve been dancing?
Z: Aah.. lots of stories...
M: Hopefully Newcastle!! Australia. We were upside down!
Z: They do crazy things over there, dance the opposite!! We brought our daughter that time too. And the first time we taught in Toulouse we took our baby daughter,
M: She was 3 weeks old
Z: That was intense!

LB: As professional dancers at the minute how do you manage time?
M: We are sat in our studio at the moment, where we are coaching, teaching lessons every night (Maryse gabbles a bit in broken English)
Z: We manage, ‘tend to it’!
M: I have poor vocabulary
Z: Your vocabulary is fine!
(they pause so I can write!)
Z: Maryse is not familiar with the British accent!! (In posh English accent) ‘Absolutely my dear!’
(They discuss the pronounciation of ‘Ouseburn’ where they are staying for the Festival, in an earlier email I had written “Ouseburn, pronounced Ooze-burn” to clear up any mispronunciation and confusion!)
Z: I like oooooooze burn
Z: We are watching Dr Who in prep!

LB: So what’s happening for you at the moment?
M: In Montreal right now, we are gearing up for our event this weekend called Followology, and we are buried in snow and ice!
Z: Like Newcastle then
M: Hopefully in Newcastle the weather will be better
LB: We don’t know cold like you know cold! (after a short weather discussion we found out it was -20 Celcius there.)

LB: What is the Swing dance scene like in Montreal?
Z: There is Swing dancing in Montreal every night of the week, about 1000 Swing dancers, on and off
LB: Do you do any other styles of dancing?
Z: Haha I used to do a lot of ballroom, I started off doing Ballroom, and salsa, I still do a bit of salsa, there is a BIG South American contingent of Salsa dancers
Most of the classes here are Lindy Hop based, and teams, we have one team that travels a lot, they compete in the Canadian Swing Championships in May 2012 (shameless plug!)

LB: How do you prepare for competitions?
Z: I have  a more ‘holistic’ approach, that is I do it on the plane!
M: I wish we didn’t do that!
LB: How much work goes into it?
Z: It depends on the competition, for routines we prep months in advance
M: It’s better for me 6 months in advance
Z: We don’t prepare in ‘Strictly’ competitions, we just lead and follow
M: We dance as partners with lead and follow stuff, it is improvised. It’s hard to get out a lot to practice with my daughter, I go out 1 or 2 times a week at my best
Rar-rar-rarely go out together as we have share the babysitting duties
(Z laughs at M’s English) at the studio we social dance a lot together.

LB: What and who inspires you to be better dancers?
Z: The idea of inspiring others, that’s really what gets me going
M: Coaching lots of students who look up to us we are here to inspire them with what we do.
Z: Other dancers inspire us, we like You Tube - You Tube is great, because you don’t have to ‘be there’ to see the stuff, it really drives me to do something more

LB: When did you start dancing and why?
Z: My parents did Ballroom, so there was dancing in my family. I saw the Swing Kids movie and thought ‘this is so awesome, I wanna do that!’ so went out and did it, then realised these actors suck! But that was my first encounter with real Swing dance. And the Hellzapoppin clip.
M: For me it was later on, I never liked to dance, my sister was better! One day I came across a Swing band, and there were all these people dancing, I loved it,  it was, how do you say?... love at first sight, I tried it and loved it and am doing it every day. I am passionate!
Z: Balboa, I started a bit later, with Valerie [Salstrom] in Montreal, that was my first Balboa class ever.

LB: Did you meet dancing?
M: Yes we did
Z: We were [dance] partners before being a couple, and are still partners, that says a lot, our mutual love of dancing
M: That was sweet
LB: Very poignant!

LB: What will you bring to the Love Balboa Weekend Festival?
Z: An exciting Balboa class, we will tailor the class to the needs of the students
M: We will work on technique, with a fun and challenging element. Cool moves, cool variations, stuff you haven’t seen before
LB: Some new moves?
Z: We have lots of stuff on the table, as a lead, new ways to get in and out of a move (Maryse rolls her eyes and starts laughing at the thought of this ‘new’ way)

LB: How do you see the Balboa scene evolving?
Z: Very interesting cos a few years back there were no Balboa events at all. First there was ABW [All Balboa Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, USA] now there are hundreds of events every year. More and more people are dancing and getting better. People are enthusiastic, the teachers are pushing the dance in different directions, and to me, it’s very interesting to see. Dancers evolve and change, their movements and their styling. They keep on evolving, but keeping their roots at the same time

LB: So you see an exciting future for Balboa, whilst not loosing touch with our ‘roots’?
Z: Yes it is quite like Lindy really, there is really a balance between old and new, you can’t really only keep one style. There is a parallel with Ballroom here where it is set in stone. Balboa isn’t like that.

Quick Fire Round!

LB: Heels or flats?
Z: to wear?! Haha, Heels!
M: Heels

LB: Fruit or veg?
Z: Fruit
M: Veg

LB: Dogs or cats?
M: Dogs, neither for Zack
Z: Neither, dogs?

LB: Summer or Winter?
Z & M: Summer definitely!

LB: Facebook or Twitter?
Z & M: Facebook

LB: Beer or wine?
M: Wine
Z: Beer

LB: Tom or Jerry?
Z: Which is which?
M: I think Tom is the cat
LB: Yes Tom is the cat, as in ‘Tomcat’ Jerry is a mouse
Z & M: aah yea, Tom cat!

LB: If you were an animal, what would you be?
M: Hmm.. an owl
Z: A dragon! Jesus! (thinks) A dolphin cos they’re smart!

LB: Describe yourself in 3 words
Z: Ooh this is hard
M: Can we describe each other?
LB: That was the next question!
M: (thinks) Mmm, Zack is intelligent, funny, creative
Z: (thinks for longer) Pretty, Classy, at times! Those are my 3 words, ‘classy at times’!
M: laughs
Z: (Sounding unsure) Fun? F*** I don’t know! (long pause) Empathic!
M: If you suck in class I’ll feel very sorry for you!!