An interview with dance couple Peter and Bianca

An interview with dance couple Peter and Bianca

At Slowfeet Studio we know Peter and Bianca as two very sociable people from the Dutch province Brabant, with a great passion for dancing. They were one of the first to sign up for Slow Ball classes, and they are always around when there are workshops or parties. As the cuddly people they are, they prefer to dance with everyone, leader or follower. Reason enough to take a closer look at their passion for dancing and relationship on the dance floor.

Tell me about the beginning of your dance life

Peter: “We got to know each other at ballroom dance lessons. Bianca was a ‘substitute’ dancer and I was a beginner. We danced together for years. After a while we stopped because it was a bit of a letdown for us and there were other priorities. We ended up not dancing for about 20 years. When our daughter was 11, we decided to pick up dancing again and started with salsa. We did that for two years, but it wasn’t really our thing. The music, with which we didn’t really click anyway, is much too loud on socials. Those parties don’t start until late in the evening and people were more busy hitting on each other than dancing.”

How did you discover Swing?

Peter: “We came across Lindy Hop at the Breda Jazz Festival. A little later a ‘Lindy meets Ballroom evening’ was organized. We were completely sold, but we still had to wait months for a new beginners course to start. We were invited to come to the socials in advance. And so we did. People were so different from the salsa world. The dancers really take you along. It didn’t matter at all that we didn’t know any Lindyhop passes yet.”

Bianca: “Once we started lessons, it all went very quickly. We were allowed to skip levels and after a few years we started teaching. We have been dancing for about 6 years now.”

Peter on the dance floor during the one-year anniversary of Slowfeet Studio

Which Swing styles do you dance?

Bianca: ”Lindy Hop is our first dance, but soon Balboa, Shag, Slow Bal and Blues were added to our Swing book. I think we discovered Slow Bal and Slowfeet Studio during a workshop on a swing event. For me the best thing is the variety. I find it very difficult to dance only one dance style during a party. The tempo of the song greatly determines the dance, and we’ve learned to dance to all tempos.”

Peter: “When people ask when you dance something: between 110 and 180 bpm (beats per minute) it’s usually Lindy Hop. 180 bpm or more is Balboa or Shag and below 110 bpm is Slow Bal or Blues.”

How is it to dance as a couple?

Peter: “We don’t always have a good click on the dance floor. Where I can have really wonderful dances with some dancers, it is not always the case with each other.”

Bianca: “We often dance together, also with lesson preparations and at home. You get used to each other, but the surprise that comes with dancing with different people is kinda lost. Dancing with each other doesn’t really make us a better lead or follor. You learn to read each other’s mistakes and shortcuts. Variation is the spice of live.”

Peter: “Yes, I have a different sweetheart for every dance!”

Bianca: “But it’s also really nice that we have a common hobby that we can share.”

“I have a different sweetheart for every dance!”

How do you obtain this click on the dance floor?

Peter: “It’s not predictable when you click. With some people it is just the perfect match. That’s not because I suddenly start leading differently, and it has nothing to do with who is the best dancer.”

Bianca: “With every dancer you’ll have a different dance. With some leads, you can leave a mark on the dance much more as a follower than with other leads. It is a language that you speak together. Being a life partner does not automatically mean that you are also the perfect dance partner for each other. That is why it is so nice that we always change partners during the lessons.”

Bianca on the dance floor during the one-year annievrsary of Slowfeet Studio

How do you differ as dancers?

Peter: “I have a huge respect for people who can go crazy on the dance floor. People who are so comfortable that they can immerse themselves in the music and the dance. For some reason I don’t often manage to get there. Except when I’m in the right setting and with the right dancer. Then I can get into the flow and it all comes naturally. But I find it very hard to let go.”

Bianca: “I’ve always had a thing for dancing. On the dance floor I don’t find anything scary at all and I find it easier to let go of everything. But maybe it’s easier if you’re a follower. As a leader you are constantly busy with ‘making sure that something happens’.

Have you ever needed a break from dancing?

Bianca: “We did have a bit of a Lindy Hop rut. Our solution was to keep switching swing dances. Focus on Balboa for a while, then Slow Bal. That’s how you keep it fun. Teaching also brings new perspective to the dance.”

Both of you can lead and follow. Should everyone learn both roles?

Peter: “Yes, I think so. As a leader you learn so much more about what it feels like to be a follow, and vice versa. If you only learn one role, you will never experience this.”

Bianca: “You really get to understand each other better. When we are preparing certain moves for our classes, we often switch roles, because then you can try out what exactly is happening and which techniques you use.”

How did you become a Lindy Hop teacher?

Bianca: “I really enjoyed both following and leading. I then proposed to the Lindy teacher to give a course on ‘change places’, for people who have been in a certain role for some time and wanted to try the other role. The teacher thought that was a good idea and so I started teaching together with her. A little later I started teaching the course with Peter; me as a lead and he as a follow.”

Bianca is leading, Peter is following

Is Slow Bal a good dance to start with when you’re new to the swing world?

Peter: “I think Lindy Hop is easier. You can be a bit more clumsy about that. For Slow Bal you need elegance and good control over your balance and your muscles. I think people get distracted by the word ‘slow’ and think it will be easy.”

Bianca: “In Lindy Hop ben je wat vrijer om te leren omdat er letterlijk meer ruimte is. In Slow Bal sta je dicht tegen elkaar. Maar daarmee heb je ook veel meer contactpunten om te leiden en te volgen. Voor mensen die van ballroom afkomen is Slow Bal wellicht een betere overgang dan Lindy Hop. Je hebt dan veel meer dat ‘glijden over de vloer’ gevoel.”

Bianca: “In Lindy Hop you are a bit more free to move because there is literally more space. In Slow Bal you are close to each other. But that also gives you many more touchpoints to lead and follow. For ballroom dancers who are looking for something new, Slow Ball may be a better transition than Lindy Hop. It has more of a ‘sliding on the floor’ feeling.”

“Not having danced for a day, is a day wasted”

What does dancing mean to you?

Bianca: “Happines. Dancing and music means feeling alive. A day without dancing is a day wasted.”

Peter: “Mijn hoofd gaat uit. Ik heb een denk-baan en zit veel achter de computer. Maar op de dansvloer gaat mijn hoofd uit kan ik alles even loslaten. Ik kan ook wel heel gevleid zijn als mensen aangeven dat ze het fijn vinden om met mij te dansen.”

Peter: “My head just switches off. I have a job that requires a lot of thinking and I spend a lot of time behind the computer. But on the dance floor I can let go of everything. I can also be very flattered when people indicate that they enjoy dancing with me.”

Do you have any tips for people who consider starting with dancing?

Bianca: “Gewoon beginnen! Het doet er niet toe of je denkt dat je wel of niet kan dansen of ritmegevoel hebt. Het gaat erom dat je lol hebt. Er zijn zoveel gezellige mensen en ongeacht hoe goed iemand is, kun je nog steeds super leuke dansjes hebben. Swing gaat eigenlijk om de missers maken en veel lachen. En ondertussen beter worden en veel dansjes doen. Maar je moet het wel leuk vinden. Daar gaat het om.”

Bianca: “Just start! It doesn’t matter whether or not you think you can dance or have a sense of rhythm. It’s about having fun. There are so many fun people and no matter how good someone is, you can still have great dances. Swing is really about making mistakes and laughing a lot. And meanwhile get better and do a lot of dances. But you have to like it. That’s what it’s all about.”

Peter: “Out of ten people who say they don’t have a sense of rhythm, nine do. But they just don’t try.”

Bianca: “And even if you really don’t have a sense of rhythm, we can still have a nice dance! So don’t wait any longer and come dance with us!”

Will you guys ever stop dancing?

Peter and Bianca in unison: “No! Are you crazy?!

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