When you talk to Galena Velikova, she will charm you with her quick mind. On the stage, she will take you to the magical world of dance with her vivid movements, smile and good mood. In Bulgaria, Galena Velikova is known from the TV show “Dancing Stars” and VIP Brother and in Greece people know her from the children show “Baby dance.” She takes care of her five Latin and sport dance schools “Galena’s Dance Studios” in Athens and now she unveils her life in an interview for Marina Nikolova.
Why did you choose to come to Greece?
I came to Greece at the end of 1995. I can say and I didn’t choose Greece but it chose me. I was Bulgaria’s champion for 1995, when I got an offer to teach seminars in a dancing school. I didn’t even know where it was. They were looking for a specialist, who needed to go there for few days every month. In the beginning, I was travelling all the time, because I was still in university – I was in my third year in Law school. This went on for about a year and after that they offered me to stay and I accepted.
You have married a Greek. How did you meet him?
He is also in the dancing business.
Love at first sight or long flirting?
The first one.
How did you decide to do sport dancing professionally and not to work as a lawyer?
I had decided this from very early age but my parents insisted that I should graduate from Law school. I guess this is how it works in Bulgaria when you have ambitious parents. The diploma is very important for them – now I have one. But I knew I will my job will be dancing. I was born in Stara Zagora but for a while we lived in Bourgas, because my dancing school was there and it was the best in Bulgaria.
Which is your favorite dance right now?
It is hard to say, because I have been dancing so many of them for years. After so much time, I love them all. But I do like the samba and the Paso Doble very much.
Isn’t the samba one of the hardest dances?
It is believed to be the hardest Latin American dance, because it has the most technical details.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Unfortunately I have very little spare time, because I have five dance schools, which need a lot of attention and care. I get home around 12:00am. I’m coaching Greece’s champions, I also have many couples from Bulgaria and Turkey, who come during the weekends, so trust me – I don’t listen to music at home.
Which is your most memorable moment in your career until now?
It my vice-champion award in Venice in 2004. It was a very touching moment for me.
Was there ever a moment when you were ready to give up dancing?
Almost every week. The pleasure is huge. I always ask myself whether I should quit, because training for 4-5 hours every day for so many years is not so easy. I am training dancers for twenty years – without a Saturday or Sunday, without a day off, without a holiday. This work rhythm deprives me of many things like personal life, coffee with friends… When all of my friends were going shopping or away for the weekend, I was going to dance. So the thought of quitting comes very often but the determination and desire are obviously stronger. This is what keeps me going.
Have you had embarrassing moments on stage?
Not as many as some of my students. My dress has gotten stuck in my pantyhose, while dancing Paso Doble and I’m in a position down on the floor. When I tried to stand up – I couldn’t, because the stone was caught up in the pantyhose. It’s small things like that and thank God I haven’t had many others.
According to you, which is the most passionate dance?
The most passionate dance is the rumba. This is the dance of love. All movements re-create the love game.
How can you distinguish talented dancers?
The ones who are most talented are usually the laziest ones, because they learn fast. I learn the movement from the first time and because they have done it OK from the first time, they calm down and they will never try to make it perfect. Usually in this sport succeed the ones who are not that talented. They are more disciplined and patient and they can see that it doesn’t always happen on the first try, so they keep practicing. The result is that sooner or later they become better than the talented ones, who are sitting on their chairs and hoping that on the competition they will succeed. Habits need to be developed. The information is a lot and it needs many hours of work, so it can be presented in a finished form in a competition. After all, the music is very fast.
What is the first thing you teach your students?
Discipline, without discipline you can never succeed.
What do you expect from your students?
I want many more of my students to succeed. I am satisfied that we have awards but I am expecting many more and especially from the World and European championship. For me, I expect to find more time, so I can make my own shows – I have many ideas, fantasy and though but unfortunately I do not have enough time. I want to do many things, learn many things, and achieve many things.
What is the stage-fright for you?
The stage-fright is not because of the stage or the audience but because you want to do everything you know – all, which you have been practicing and you think that you can do. The worry of whether you will be able to give 100% of yourself is much bigger. I believe this is what every performer worries about and not whether someone is watching or not. I want to give the maximum of my abilities. And because when we dance it is all live, then everything can happen. We do not dance alone, we also have a partner and not everything depends on you.