heinnews’ David Hein spent some time away from the court at EuroBasket 2009 for a chat with Olena Rozkova, the CEO of the internationally renown Ukrainian dance team ReD Foxes. They discussed the biggest achievement after performing at four EuroBaskets, one World Championship and two Olympics, future goals of ReD Foxes, her daily activities as the boss of a 300-dancer academy, interaction with other dance groups, remember 175 different dances and her favorite routine.
The most known dancing group in the world: The Red Foxes
heinnews: Hi Olena, how does it feel to be at fourth EuroBasket?
Rozkova: It’s very great for us. After the Olympic Games we had a lot of changes in our team. So it’s a big chance to make a statement for the new girls.

heinnews: Back in 2003 you had your first EuroBasket in Sweden. What were your thoughts back then where this would all go?
Rozkova: Sweden was a very big moment for us. I remember very clearly that the crowd was asking for teams to take timeouts. And from Sweden we only have one girl left on the team – she’s the captain. I never thought in Sweden that I would be at my fourth EuroBasket in Poland.

heinnews: Did you think it might lead to something bigger?
Rozkova: At that time I never thought we would be to two World Championships, two Olympics and four EuroBaskets. I was just very hungry to do something very special.

heinnews: Where did the idea for the ReD Foxes come from?
Rozkova: The idea came from my rhythmic gymnastics. After that I went to modern dance and I was very impressed. And I was trying to mix sports and dancing and basketball appeared the place where my knowledge could be most helpful.

heinnews: And since then you have been to four EuroBaskets, two World Championships and two Olympics. That is very impressive. Which would you say has been the biggest achievement and why?
Rozkova: I think the biggest achievement was the Beijing Olympics. Why because the dance team had become a regular part of basketball competition even though there are very many beautiful talented groups in the world. And to be first every time has been very difficult for us. We always have to be one step ahead in customs, in choreography, in our routines. So the Beijing Olympics was a huge thing for us.

heinnews: How did you get selected for the EuroBasket and the events?
Rozkova: There was a competition held by FIBA We sent videos and dance catalogs, customs and information about us. And after that they made the selection.
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heinnews: And what about Euroleague Final Fours?
Rozkova: We have never been to a Final Four. We were with CSKA Moscow in 2002-03 and were named the best dancing group. But we could not go to Barcelona because it was very difficult for us to get visas.

heinnews: What are the goals for ReD Foxes in the futures?
Rozkova: Goals … ooh.

heinnews: I assume you will be bidding to do the 2010 World Championship in Turkey?
Rozkova: FIBA still has to make a selection, but it is our goal.

heinnews: But, let’s say, look five, six years down the road, what are some goals for you and the group?
Rozkova: For us, it’s very important to be on the basketball stage. But we are also trying to open new countries – and actually not just countries but also new regions, like Africa, like America, like Australia. And we are also looking to go into other sports.

heinnews: Have you ventured into other countries and sports yet then?
Rozkova: Yes, we have done some cricket games in India, some football games. We have not been to America though. Some of the girls on the team dream of doing NBA games. So we have a lot of work still.

heinnews: If I told you in 2003 that you would have been everywhere you have been to and done the things you have done, what would you have said?
Rozkova: I would tell you, you are crazy (laughing wildly). Or maybe I would say Okay, that would be my dream to do that.

heinnews: You are the CEO of the ReD Foxes and there is an academy for the group. What kind of daily and weekly activities do you have?
Rozkova: We practice six days a week, nearly three hours a day. We have a lot of gymnastics elements so we really need to practice every day. All of the girls are students. Some of them go to university, others are already finished with university and are working regular jobs. ReD Foxes for them is part of their lives but also a hobby.

heinnews: There are 12 leading dancers and also 12 basketball players on a team. Is that just a coincidence?
Rozkova: I never thought about that. That has no meaning. But on the court there are usually 10 girls. And we also have substitutions if something happens.

heinnews: You mentioned that the dance group at EuroBasket 2009 is a really new group with a lot of new girls. How often do you have new dancers in the top 12 and how many dancers audition for those openings?
Rozkova: We open competition for the spots once a year in autumn. We usually try to take five from the last season’s group. But only one from last season is on the team for this competition.

heinnews: How many dancers do you have to choose from in the academy?
Rozkova: 300

heinnews: And how many people audition to enter the academy every year?
Rozkova: I think the most successful year we had 1,000 girls auditioning.

heinnews: Wow, 1,000. That’s amazing. And what’s been the biggest challenge since this group is becoming more popular worldwide?
Rozkova: I think the biggest challenge is to open ReD Foxes in other countries – maybe like Lithuania or Russia which are close to Ukraine. Maybe we can organize dance schools there. Or maybe in every basketball club (laughing).

heinnews: How much contact do you have with other dance groups in Europe and how do you get along with them? Is it positive or a bit troublesome at all?
Rozkova: We have a lot of contact. But it’s good. You know though sometimes it’s really difficult. It’s positive but it’s difficult sometimes to be positive. That’s why it’s very important for us that all the other dance teams understand why we are first – because we are really working hard. For our customs, our routines, our job, we always prepare something new every year. But it is really open and friendly with all of them.
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heinnews: I saw that you have 175 dances in your catalog. How often do you add new dances?
Rozkova: For the Olympics we added 15 new dancers. And for here (EuroBasket 2009) we added 10 more.

heinnews: And do all of these dancers know all 175 of your dancers?
Rozkova: Unfortunately not (laughing). Unfortunately only our captain knows all 175. But some times even I forget and we have to go back and find the video. Like here we had to watch again the Serbian dance we created in 2005. But we did not use the dance in 2007. So we had to look again. For me, it’s almost easier to make a new one than to find it on the video.

heinnews: What’s your favorite dance?
Rozkova: Ooh, my favorite is the Final Countdown when the dancers have basketballs. It’s from 2003 and there has not been a competition final without this dance. In the Olympics we did the dance with a Chinese dance team. It was really an important job for us. We transferred information with them and it was very good. So, the Final Countdown was always in the final. But here it will be during the bronze medal match because for the final we are doing a dance with white nets.

heinnews: Well, have fun and it’s been a pleasure. And hopefully we meet again in Turkey.
Rozkova: Yes, I hope so.

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