What would a EuroBasket competition be without the wonderfully talented and beautiful dancers from the Ukraine-based dance group ReD Foxes. heinnews’s David Hein took some time to catch up with ReD Foxes CEO Olena Rozkova at EuroBasket 2011. They talked about the group’s new style of dances; her living in Lithuania; bringing a Lithuanian dancer into the group; coming up with new dances; and doing performances outside of basketball.
heinnews: So, this is your fifth EuroBasket. And I believe your second where you are not performing, is that correct?
Rozkova: I was performing in the final routine in Poland (EuroBasket 2009).
heinnews: Ah okay, I forgot. And last year?
Rozkova: Well, actually I am trying to do at least one routine every year to get a better feeling for the team. It’s not that complicated. But I cannot be involved every time because there are a lot of other jobs to do.(See previous interview with Rozkova) But this time totally out.
heinnews: So, how does that feel?
Rozkova: Sometimes I feel like I want to run to the court. It’s much more easy than making the decisions about what dance we should do now. For example in the Turkey-Serbia game, we changed our plan about five times, also in the last quarter.
heinnews: Are you more or less nervous now watching them on the court?
Rozkova: Actually more.
heinnews: Is it getting better though?
Rozkova: When you are on the court you have the possibility to act – take different steps. When you are out you just look and watch because there are a lot of uncontrollable situations – a lot of extreme situations and you just look at how the girls act in one team.
heinnews: And now you know how it feels to be a basketball coach.
Rozkova: Yeah, maybe (laughs).
heinnews: You can’t do anything when they are out there on the court.
Rozkova: Yes I’m home! I live in Kiev generally and in Vilnius there are a lot of my relatives and my family is with me now – my children are with me. So for me it’s the most happiness because to be out of the house with small babies for three weeks is very, very hard. In Turkey (2010 World Championship), it was so nervous and so hard.
heinnews: How many girls and how old?
Rozkova: Eva is 3 and a half and Maria is 2 and a half.
heinnews: And they go to school here in Vilnius?
Rozkova: Yeah, they are going to kindergarten here! They are learning the Lithuanian language.
heinnews: Why Lithuania?
Rozkova: We have relatives. And my husband, who is Lithuanian, has family here.
heinnews: The Red Foxes for the first time have a non-Ukrainian dancer in the squad – Ausra Lazarenkaite from Vilnius. How did that happen?
Rozkova: Generally I prepare a special composition with the flags for the Parade of Blondes. And one month before that I had a casting here and a very beautiful girl came to this casting. I looked at her and saw Foxes dancer. I spent about five minutes with her and I felt that she could be a part of our team. And I think it will be a very good representative to make a Ukrainian-Lithuanian project. And now we have an international dancer involved in our team. And it’s a good possibility to open something for the Red Foxes here (in Lithuania). She’s good. She understands very fast and we are happy that Ausra is in our team.
heinnews: So did it just happen to be that she was Lithuanian or was it planned to have a Lithuanian in the team with the EuroBasket taking place here?
Rozkova: We are open to anybody else. But I know that for Lithuanians basketball is their life. For them, for the local organizing committee, for the people, it was very important to represent themselves. There are a lot of very good Lithuanian cheerleaders. I think I invite this girl and this is also respect to them that we are not only Ukrainians. But that we are together in performing.
Rozkova: No, she was in the TV project “So you think you can dance”. She dances in show business with Lithuanian pop stars. She was dancing at the opening of EuroBasket at the concert.
heinnews: The other dance teams here are all Lithuanian. Looking at the dances that they do, it’s not hard to see that there was a lot of influences from performances the Red Foxes have done in the past. And watching the dances here in Lithuania, I sense that they have changed in style a little bit. So with these groups, not copying because that’s not entirely correct but using very similar things, how do you stay ahead? Or is the idea even to try to stay ahead?
Rozkova: Really, to be a leader is difficult. And every time we find something new to be ahead and be one step up in everything: choreography, costumes, acrobatic elements. This is research, this is our goal. To find something that nobody has used before. Have you seen the dance with the drums? We do it acappella without music – with just the drums.
heinnews: How do you research? Do you watch other groups?
Rozkova: First for me, it’s important to find the style – the look. Something that looks fashionable. Actually, you know, I do not analyze what others do. I do not want to spend my time on that. I am always trying to find ideas that have never been used before.
heinnews: Are you looking for anything in particular? You said you wanted to keep ahead in moves and costumes.
Rozkova: First we are looking for the style. We adapt it for sports because not all fashion or show biz ideas can look good on the court. Imagine 10 Lady Gagas. (laughs). We just need to add some accessories, some styles, something special for us. We are good looking and this is eye-catching. This is first.
After that we think about the music. Which music is in the pop charts. And we discuss it. Sometimes we have a very good dance but we don’t have a good costume for it. Or we have a good costume and we should adapt it to the music. Of course we are researching for new elements. We are looking at gymnastics routines, aesthetic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, sports gymnastics, acrobatics, TV shows. We do a lot of research in YouTube.
heinnews: So it’s actually a lot easier today with YouTube.
Rozkova: Actually when we prepared for Japan World Championship (2006), it was so hard to find Japanese routines and Chinese routines. We had to go to the embassy and the culture department and they give us tickets to go to the library.
heinnews: And today it’s YouTube.
Rozkova: Yeah, today it’s YouTube and you can find everything. You just need to know where to look. And what to choose.
heinnews: Last time we talked you said you were looking to go into new countries, new regions, Africa, Americas, Asia, other sports. You mentioned last time that you were doing a little bit of cricket. I believe you have done some things for the Ukrainian national football team.
Rozkova: Yes, we discovered football.
heinnews: Yeah and there was beach volleyball too. So, where are you going from here?
Rozkova: Where are we going? Next year is Euro2012 in Ukraine so that is our main goal. And now we are working with this new football project called “Football Ballet 2012”. We are inviting all the cheerleaders from the other teams in Ukraine and we join them for a performance.
heinnews: What about basketball?
Rozkova: Basketball in Ukraine is not that popular. I hope the basketball teams get better and go to big tournaments and we can continue with more Ukrainian basketball. We have some very nice projects, which I call Fashion Projects. We did a fashion ballet for a Georgian designer (Avtandil summer collection) for the Georgia Independence Day celebration in Kiev and it was amazing. We did some gymnastics in his fantastic dresses and we called it fashion ballet. It was so beautiful.
We also did a project with the Italian painter Antonio Menegetti, modeling in front of his painting.
One thing about beach volleyball. The girls said, We don’t want to do perform on the beach. But everybody loves these photos – much more than the basketball photos.
heinnews: What would you say is your next big goal?
Rozkova: I have a new goal. My new goal is to present something to the Venice Biennale. They opened this year choreography nominations. So I hope that in two or three years that we can create something which will show our versatility.
heinnews: Will you stay in basketball?
Rozkova: Um… perhaps (laughs). Basketball is like our love. But we should find something more because it’s not enough to present and discover everything that we can.
heinnews: And it’s only two months total during the summer. So there is lots of time to explore other things
heinnews: Last time we talked you said there were over 175 dances. What about now?
Rozkova: I don’t count any more. But I think it is more than 225 or 230. Something like that.
heinnews: How many new dances are here in Lithuania?
Rozkova: Actually when we saw the schedule of the tournament we made a decision. Usually we prepare 50-55 dancers. But this time we made another decision. We chose five top dances from our history like Final Countdown, Fortuna etc. And then all of the other dances are new. But we also mixed the Russian and Greek dances for that game. That is something new we are doing too – mixing two dances for different countries into one routine.
heinnews: Olena, thank you very much for the talk. Good luck here and in the future.
Rozkova: Thank you very much