Interview with Maria Hansen

January 20, 2017
by Maria Bakhmetyeva
What brought you to ballroom dancing?

“Well, I was going to nursing school in Dallas, and I needed to find a job. So, I actually answered an ad for a Fred Astaire studio for a dance teacher, it said no experience was necessary! I went there and I went to their training class and I fell in love with the whole idea of dancing. And I think it was just more the connection that you make with people, being able to share that sense of movement together, and learning how to respond to one another.”

At what point did you realize you wanted to make ballroom your professional career?

I can’t really say that there was a moment. It was simply something I fell into in circumstance. I just realized that in order to improve with my dancing, I had to move, because in Dallas there wasn’t a strong dance community, so I ended up moving to California, and everything just fell into place.”

Who are the most prominent people in your dancing career that shaped you into the dancer you are today?

“I was lucky and very fortunate that I had great teachers in my career from the moment I didn’t know anything. Her name was Miss Kelly. She was a trainer with the Fred Astaire system, she was a phenomenal teacher for beginners. After I moved to California, I started taking lessons with Brian and Kristi McDonald and Ken and Sheila Sloan, they were huge influences in my life. And, Ken and Sheila on a personal level too because they were the ones that convinced me to marry my husband! [They have been married for 24 years!] I also worked with Glenn [Weiss] and Maia [Serve], and those were my main teachers.

Now, what are the factors that you find most important in a “good” couple?

For the beginners (I would expect open level couples to have this) I look for good posture. I don’t want to see stress or tension in anybody’s body. Having balance between the partnership, that each person is keeping their personal balance, so there’s no pulling onto each other for dear life. So, just having clarity with that. Good movement, not a lot of fancy tricks. As you move into higher levels, I want to see dimension in your dancing, bigger shapes, I want to see bigger, more powerful movement, but that doesn’t mean working harder to do it. I also want to see that you understand how to use energy with one another, understanding male and female energy together. Those are the things that matter to me.

What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of?

One is being able to represent the United States in the team match in Blackpool, that was a big deal! The second thing is winning the show dance in Ohio Star ball! (WOW!)

 

You spent a lot of time studying a form of Kung Fu called Wing Chun, how did that experience help you become more aware of your body as a dancer and grow in your abilities?

Wing Chun was a form of Martial Arts which was developed by a woman, and it’s the one Bruce Lee is famous for! And it taught me about energy; it helped me understand the energy between the partnership, and how you can create a tremendous amount of power by having balance in that energy. If you watch a couple dancing and they look like they’re trying really hard, it’s not really powerful! It just looks like a lot of work. Wing Chun helped me understand how to truly be powerful in your dancing.

What advice would you give to those who want to rise to your level?

Never stop working on your basics!




Benefit Ball for Robert Hrouda

Date: February 11
Time: 8:00pm-11:30pm
$10/person

Further donations welcome and recommended!