Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vaidas and Jurga Say Farewell to Competition

Vaidotas Skimelis and Jurga Pupelyte, arguably two of the best professional International Latin dancers in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently announced their retirement from competitive ballroom dance. They exit the competition floor from the number four spot in the country’s International Latin division.
They agree that the decision to retire from competition has been relatively easy although they did debate it over the course of a couple of years.
“Right now” Jurga says, “I feel happy about our decision. I think it is good. I am excited to watch competitions and not be in them. Of course, I may be sad too. We will see.”
One of the ultimate goals of a dancer is to reach a level of satisfaction with their body of work as they look back at their competitive career. “I feel very satisfied with what we have achieved. I had reached a point where I no longer needed to prove anything to myself or to anyone,” Jurga added.
Vaidas reflects on their decision and is optimistic about the potential that the future holds for their dance careers. “It was the right time to step into a new career. Maybe it won’t be perfect right away, but we get to have a different focus on dance and that is very exciting. To see it from another perspective and on another level. As a teacher, not a competitor but still have dance as an integral part of our lives.”
“I have so much energy now to teach. Energy I used to put into competition,” Jurga says excitedly. “and teaching is so fun. I want all my students to do well. I feel like I have new things to say and so much to share.” The couple’s fresh stamina, now flowing into teaching and coaching, is understandably being devoured by their students.
One needs only to attend their International Latin Technique class at Just Dance Ballroom in Oakland (Thursday 8pm) to see just how passionate and knowledgeable this duo is about their subject matter. Stunted rumba walks at the beginning of class are mysteriously transformed into graceful and purposeful gaits by the end of the hour. Latin Rounds (Thursdays, 9pm) give serious competitive dancers an earful of feedback from the firm voice of Vaidas and “bada ba dum” rhythm-reminders from Jurga on the sidelines. Students drill their routines to build stamina and work out the bugs to make competitions less intimidating. “I wish someone had done this for us when we were starting,” Jurga admits, “but look at them, they are getting better every time!”
“I feel we left on a strong note,” Vaidas interjects, “Sure we will miss it, but we will move on to see dance in a new way and we love that idea.”