We have got great interview of Eldar and Anna about their preparation for contest, personal goals and love to dance. You can read it here.
Azerbaijan - is the only debuting country in Eurovision Dance Contest 2008 and it's representatives continue to attract the considerable attention. Couple Eldar Dzhafarov and Anna Sazhina is not only one of the most experienced couples in competition, but is also preparing to perform on British dance floor of the most original presentations, based on the concept of "Phantom of the Opera". You can learn more details on the preparations of the dancers for the competition, from ESCKaz exclusive interview.
- Good day, Anna and Eldar, and first of all, our congratulations to the fact that you were chosen as the representatives of Azerbaijan at Eurovision Dance Contest. What does this fact mean for you?
Eldar: Thank you for your congratulations! Participation in Eurovision for us is a very important event. We have to represent Azerbaijan and dance culture of our country at the European level. We want to demonstrate at what quality level is dancing sport in our country.
Anna: Let's say, this is a very responsible job for us, and right now we're actively making preparations to fulfil it.
- How did you receive a proposal for participation in this project, and what was your first thought about it? Was it easy for you to agree?
Eldar: Initially we were just hinted that there can happen a very important event that can change our future lives. As if we can can even become very famous people in the country. But what is the essence of it and what is the kind of the event, we couldn't even suspect. And then, in early summer, we have received phone call from Dance Sport Federation and we were informed that Azerbaijan will debut in the Eurovision Dance Contest, and that we are the main candidates to take part in the competition. By the end of June our participation has been officially confirmed, and we started a process of preparation. And whether it was easy for us to agree? Of course! The answer was clear "Yes"! The only thing that Anna had to agree on her work schedule in the insurance company, so that no emergency cases that can not be decided without her involvement should appear during this period. But I am confident that Eurovision is more important than any job.
Anna: This is what you think, Eldar, and not my heads (laughs). Kidding, of course. They were sympathetic to my engagement and gave me unplanned holiday for the time of preparations for Eurovision.
- What is your aim at the contest, is it to reach a victory in it?
Anna: Yes, we want to win! We strive for this victory and are doing everything in our power to achieve it. We need this high goal, which we have set ourselves. It is important to know that we have done everything possible to achieve superior results.
Eldar: In Azerbaijan, there is a high interest in this competition and people are looking forward a good result. Victory is, certainly, much more pleasant than just a decent performance, but I personally don't think now about the first place, to me more important will be the feeling that we with Anna were the best on the dance floor on 6th of September in Glasgow.
- In Azerbaijan there was no professional version of "Dancing with the stars". What do you think about this show, do you consider that it really helps to promote dance sports and would like you for something similar to appear on Azerbaijani TV screens?
Anna: These types of show are very important moment for the promotion of ballroom dancing in Europe. It is really pity for me personally that we haven't manage to conduct this sort of show in Azerbaijan. Indeed, adaptations of Strictly Come Dancing in different countries broke records for television ratings among the entertainment programmes and at the same time provoked a real dance boom in Europe. I believe that after our Eurovision performance and broadcast of this show on Ictimai TV, Azerbaijan will also get own show in Strictly Come Dancing format.
Eldar: Recently, we have been often meeting with Azerbaijani stars, and they asked us the same question - when Azerbaijani version of "Dancing With Stars" will appear. Believe me, they are ready to start shootings and trainings tomorrow for participation in such a show.
- And would you agree to participate in such a project in couples with Azerbaijani stars?
Eldar: Yes, why not! Though I would be very carefully choosing a celebrity partner for Anna (laughs). This, of course, all joking, but participation in such Azeri project would be very interesting for us. But wait, we can participate in this show not only as dancers, but also in the role of the coaches or even choreographers!
Anna: Do you think you will be invited? (laughs)
Eldar: Well, hopefully (smiles enigmaticly)
- In your opinion, how difficult it is to prepare unprofessional dancer for a dance floor performance?
Eldar: This is a difficult but doable task. Starting from elementary technic and ending with those emotions, which should occur during the performance of a dance, all this are elements of actor's skills. The audience must believe you and compare the history of your dance with own life. The audience must empathize you, and it is very difficult to reach. And there it is not important whether you are professional or not. The main thing is that person should move beautifully and be attractive - it will always look better than irreproachable performance of all the technical moments of the dance.
Anna: I think, that also a lot depends on the feelings. If a person feels the rhythm, the dance itself, it's message, mood, then technics itself will reach him.
- Is there a great difference between professional couples compared to the couples drawn on the principle dancer + celebrity, if we will take into account that only one short dance is to be performed? Last year in EDC all the first three places have been taken professional couples, do you consider that your dancing experience gives you some advantage?
Eldar: I do not think it gives us an advantage. First, we are performing only in amateur category of sports dances. Eurovision is the show, so not so much technical side of your performance is valued, but aт entertainment, organics and hidden message of your dances. This is not a competition where everyone enters the floor and dance more or less same rumba. According to the idea of the contest there will be 14 mini-spectacles, 14 stories, which will be be told by the participants in the language of dance.
- This year at all participating couples should perform only one freestyle dance style with the national colour included in it. Tell us more about the dance, you'll perform? What will be the national colors of it?
Eldar: It was a difficult moment. We have decided to base our performance on the famous musical "Phantom of the Opera" by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but we had to combine it with the motives of Azerbaijan culture. I admit, it was not so easy, but now it seems that we have successfully merged the Azerbaijani national moves with Latin American dances. Everything will nicely and smoothly transfer from one to another. At the very beginning, for the effective entrance, we have used elements of a national dance "Land of Fire", but what happens next in our performance, I prefer not to tell, let this be the secret.
- You have chosen to perform dance on the soundtrack from "The Phantom of the Opera", can you please explain this choice, how it had happened?
Anna: That was my choice. We were in a very long sought a suitable music, that we all would like. One night, while sitting on the floor in my room, I was moving the CDs, already desperately struggling to find anything suitable. And then I got into the hands the CD of "Phantom of the Opera". Listening to this music, I realized that this is exactly what we were looking for so long, and I simply shouted: "Eldar, I found, found!"
Eldar: I even jumped from those yellings, I remember. Listening to the record, I've realised that Anya was right. Song, which we have chosen, has proved to be effective, sensual and it can be successfully combined with fragments of Azerbaijani music.
- Are you responsible for choreography of your performance and design of your outfits yourselves, or someone is helping you with it?
Eldar: We're being helped in preparation for the competition by totally different people from different countries. We've started working on staging of our performance in US. Worked with a very famous choreographer, one of top 3 directors of USA - Bruno Collins. Then we continued to work on a performance in Italy in school of Jerry Abrate and Caterina Arzenton, who helped us to include new elements in the dance. A Azerbaijani dance elements we rehearsed locally in Azerbaijan.
Anna: Also in our preparations we are helped by our partners, a promotional team from Ukraine. And even designs of costumes was developed in Italy, but the final work on them took place in Azerbaijan. They are very original and we can say even quite unexpected. I think the audience will be surprised.
- A few general questions about Eurovision Dance Contest. Have you watched (possibly recorded) competition of last year and what were your impressions of it?
Eldar: Yes, and we watched with pleasure. There were a lot of worthy performances, but a couple from Finland were deserved winners of it. Though we've been supporting Russian couple. Anna: Yes, as Vlad Borodinov, who danced last year with Maria Sittel is our good friend. Every time we travel to Moscow, we try to meet and talk to him.
- Do you think that Eurovision Dance can become just as popular as the Song contest?
Eldar: This contest has some great potential. Eurovision Dance can reach the same level of popularity as the Song contest. Remember, at what level of popularity was dancing in Europe prior to the launch of Strictly Come Dancing? Now more and more dance schools are opening. People loved ballroom dancing, and they want to dance! It's spectacular, beautiful and unexpected. So I really think that Eurovision Dance Contest has great future.
- Do you think Eurovision Dance Contest can be also affected by political voting, which has been hampering for a long tim it's Singing analogue?
Anna: We are not even thinking about it, honestly.
Eldar: You know, this is not really our task to think on what may influence the results of public voting. Yes, basicly anything can affect the vote - the accident, politics, vague sympathies… Our task is the dance. We are now fully absorbed by our dance "Phantom of the Opera", preparations for the competition and we think only on how to improve our performance, how to tell a European audience the mystical love story of our heroes Erik and Christine. So we really are not thinking on whether voting will be political or not.
- Do you follow the news of the competition, the results of national selections of other countries? Are you interested to find our who will be your rivals?
Eldar: Naturally, we are interested to know who are the other participants of Eurovision. We follow the news, partly watch national selections of other countries. The main thing for us is to realise from all this flow of information that our performance will be different to anyone else's. This is what is really important for us, and not the biographies of other participants.
- What are your future plans, in addition to participation in the Eurovision Dance?
Eldar: How far do you look! (laughs) We are now fully busy now with the process of preparing for the competition and are not really thinking about the future.
Anna: We will start building further plans, after results of the competition will be announced on September 6th evening.
- Thank you for answers, good luck for you in preparations!