Slava Visnakovs - I Have Coached Several World Championship Finalists, Co-organized An International Dance Festival In Riga & Was Operating Two Successful Dance Studios (CEO & Head Dance Coach Form Atlanta, USA)

Now my goal is to create an environment that provides dance education, entertainment and wellbeing through movement, music and performance. I believe my projects and ventures will add value to the US Ballroom industry in the future and local communities in general. 

1.Tell us more about your background and journey.

I am Slava Visnakovs, a CEO and head dance coach of Dancing Like A Star Academy, USA Dance adjudicator, choreographer and event organizer. My background as a professional ballroom dancer who travelled all around the world performing, competing, and learning from the best dance coaches allows me to provide high-quality teaching methods and dance education systems here in Atlanta. 

I have moved to the USA in 2019 with the feeling that I have reached my full potential in my home country Latvia. After finishing my professional dance career in 2016 I have coached several World Championship finalists, co-organized an international dance festival in Riga and was operating two successful dance studios.

Now my goal is to create an environment that provides dance education, entertainment and wellbeing through movement, music and performance. I believe my projects and ventures will add value to the US Ballroom industry in the future and local communities in general. 

2. When did you first decide you wanted to pursue dancing and how did you start?

All my conscious life until the age of 25 I was a dancer, performer, and athlete. I started dancing classes at the age of 7 because of my mom’s childhood dreams to become a dancer. Naturally, I hated it at first, because I was the only boy in the group class. Later on, when I met friends there, it became my weekly routine to attend the dance class 2-3 times a week. Until 14 I didn’t have any accomplishments, but I remember already at that age I had a huge desire to become a dance champion. To become somebody who inspires others. I remember I was watching the champions of those times and imagined I am on their spot. This desire made me change several dance partners and several dance clubs until I got in the right environment. My parents always supported my ambitions and pushed me towards any opportunities to become better. At the age of 15, I won my first champions title in the Junior 2 category and started to travel around Europe as Latvia’s leading dancer in my age group. Travelling to attend the dance competition helped me to see the world, diversity in the cultures and life perceptions. It made me mature much faster than my peers. 

At the age of 16, I started my most successful partnership with Tereza Kizlo. She was a perfect partner because she was ready to work as much as I did, and she had the same obsession with Ballroom dancing. We were both teenagers who dreamed big, and it paid off. 

In 2009 we won almost every major title in the Youth age category in the world losing just World and European Champions titles (we became 2nd and 3rd). We won German Open and Blackpool titles which have the same status in Ballroom Dancing as Wimbledon in tennis. I believe that was a time around 19 years old when I decided to pursue a professional dancing career. 

3. Who is your favourite dancer and why?

Throughout my dancing career, I had many dancers I got inspiration from. In the beginning, these were dancers strictly from Ballroom Dancing World like Slavik Kryklyvyy and Bryan Watson. These dancers were different from others, their unique style and character inspired me a lot. I copied them a lot in my dancing.
After, when I started to study dance in the academy I got a lot of inspiration from Mihail Baryshnikov. His energy and presence during the performance always fascinated me. I think he inspired me subconsciously to move to the USA too. 

4. Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a dancer?

For successful ballroom dancers there are several income streams available: show performances, prize money on the dance competitions, teaching, event organizing. It's a hard and highly competitive dance world where dancers' success is mostly defined by their ranking on the World Top dance competitions. But it's a very interesting lifestyle - a lot of travelling, meeting different people, consistent learning and self-exploration process. Nowadays, because of social media dancers have the opportunities for bigger exposure, and their talents can be used by the big companies for advertising. 

5. Is format training required or can one train themselves purely based on talent?

Talent plays only 20% of success in professional ballroom dancing. Without quality information, methods and supporting systems it's not possible to achieve success. This dancing style is based on fundamental principles of movement, weight transfer, body rotations, as well as partnering skills and musicality. Without knowledge and structure, it's not possible to achieve a professional level in Ballroom dancing. Talent can be seen in a person's charisma, body structure and ability to express the feeling and sense at the moment. 

6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

My advice would be not to rush and be patient. Good and quality things need some time and deep understanding. True art is in a sense very irrational and can’t be put in any frame, from the other hand, every artist needs to have certain skills and experience to deliver the art in an understandable form. Never stop investing in yourself, your knowledge and life experiences - in the end, your intelligence, values, beliefs, experiences, ethics, relationships with people, everything is interconnected and reflects on your art or craft you're doing.

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

At an early stage in my life, I read a book called “The Secret” which opened my eyes to the law of attraction. I believed in this theory very much which helped me to achieve all my dancing achievements afterwards. I remember I was inspired by this book so I wrote the phrase “I will win Blackpool”. It seemed very childish and unrealistic, but I did it a couple of years after! That was a great lesson for me! 
Another great book I would recommend is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I think it’s great because I see it as an encyclopedia of life, which can be useful for everyone at any moment in life. 

Slava Visnakovs (CEO & Head Dance Coach)

- Interviewed By Pratibha Sahani

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