Greta Laurinaityte and her dance partner Dusan Dragovic have been rated among the top six best couples in the world, so undoubtedly the Lithuanian, who has been a force to be reckoned with on the international ballroom dancing scene, has travelled extensively to take part in competitions. However, she calls Dubai home and that’s where she decided to open the doors of Crystal Dance Center, making it possible for dance aficionados to have the unique opportunity to learn new moves from the cream of the crop. Laurinaityte talks to Roula Allam about her dance institute, the challenges she’s met and how swinging and swaying can create some of the most beneficial and memorable times of your life.
You were ranked #2 ballroom dancer in the world by the age of 23. You must have started loving it at an early age.
I have always adored dancing. I actually started when I was six years old, many young girls in my home country took part in ballroom dancing, and it was considered a rather glamorous after school activity. I remember, even at such a young age the absolute thrill that went through me every time I stepped onto the dance floor. As I got older, I started taking my training a lot more seriously and began competing. I was so lucky to have a trainer who was teaching on an international level at the time, that really opened my eyes to the world of international competition, and the rest as they say is history.
What do you enjoy the most about ballroom dancing?
Ballroom dancing enriches my quality of life; my favourite part is that on the dance floor I can express myself completely through music and movement, which is a very powerful method of communication. Every day dance teaches me about my body and myself, it takes stamina to dance and it helps to elongate the muscles, giving you a long, lean body. What most women don’t realise is that dancing helps to develop an excellent posture and really teaches you how to carry yourself like a lady, in a graceful and refined way.
What are the challenges?
I find preparing for a big event the most challenging aspect of ballroom dancing, mentally and physically. Firstly, you have to prepare your body, work on your stamina and perfect every movement. Secondly, you have to completely block out all mental distractions and stay focused on the target, which in the world of ballroom dancing means being awarded that title. As with any sport, its not easy to achieve these things, but when you do the feeling is extremely rewarding and definitely worth the hard work.
What kind of music do you like to dance to?
The music I dance to completely depends on my mood that day. Every single dance has its own characteristics; it allows me to express anger, love, joy, passion and an array of emotions I am feeling on that particular day, which is very therapeutic. The Foxtrot, for example is a joyful and light, quick dance; while the Tango is passionate and heated, if I am feeling angry I dance the Tango.
Partner dancing can help improve balance, coordination and efficiency of motion. How else does it help physically?
When you are dancing, you are moving different parts of your body and working key muscle groups without even knowing it. Ballroom dancing helps you to develop good posture and fine tune your body’s shape and structure. Two minutes of dancing is almost equivalent to two minutes of sprinting. You need high levels of energy and good stamina to be able to dance. Dancing optimises your fitness levels as your speed is constantly changing, which is much more challenging – in terms of endurance – than any gym workout!
How about socially and giving you a sense of wellbeing?
Ballroom dancing can help develop your self-confidence and build self-esteem, with simple tactics like instilling a sense of rhythm and a great posture. Ballroom dancing, in itself, is a social sport where interaction between partners is necessary; in turn, this gives shy people a different perspective on communication, one where they don’t necessary have to speak to form a bond or connect with another person. Dancing also puts the dancer in a challenging situation, teaching them about goals, self-discipline and determination, plus it’s fun. It’s high energy, releasing endorphins and increasing levels of happiness.
What dances does the studio specialise in?
Crystal Dance Center guarantees a dynamic environment and offers a broad range of ballroom dance classes including Latin, Samba, Cha-cha, Rumba, Pasodoble, Jive, Ballroom Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Foxtrot, Quickstep, Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and Argentine Tango. Crystal Dance Center also provides Zumba classes as an alternative to ballroom dancing.
What type of certification do all the teachers have?
Crystal Dance Center’s dance instructors are all professional dancers and well trained in performance arts and dance disciplines. All of them have extensive coaching and competitive dancing experiences and knowledge. Crystal Dance Center instructors include; myself, Serbian world ballroom dance champion Dusan Dragovic and Lithuanian professional ballroom dancer Skaiste Alisauskaite.
Can anyone be a good dancer if they work hard enough?
Dancing is a form of self-expression, anyone can learn how to do it. It is just learning to move your body in specific ways, and is often as natural as walking. Having said that, I also strongly believe it is incredibly important for students to have highly qualified instructors and state-of-the-art facilities to learn their art properly. Crystal Dance Center offers all of that and much more!
Why do you think people dance?
Rhythm is instinctive and we all have it. People dance for all sorts of reasons, to assert individuality, to celebrate, to preserve cultural heritage and to demonstrate physical prowess. Dance springs from a deep-seated desire for social interaction and individual expression. Once you have learned the fundamentals of dance, you can delve deeper into the ways you will express yourself. Ballroom dancing fuses art, performance and sportsmanship together and allows the individual to choose what they want out of it, this is what sets it apart. People apply what they learn on the dance floor across various aspects of their lives. It helps to develop a good posture, learn how to move better, and even carry yourself differently.