Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski
They are Bulgaria's best figure skating team ever
and among the most popular ice dancers currently competing.
They want to reach the stars but have their skates
firmly on the ice. Albena Denkova and Russian-born
Maxim Staviski are the reigning European and World
silver medalists, only defeated by Russia's Tatiana
Navka and Roman Kostomarov last season.
you start skating, and why figure skating?
M: My parents brought me to the ice rink many many years ago, when I was 4 years old. They wanted to make me healthy – it was usual for parents in Russia to do that with their children. So I began, and then I continued… What can I say, I didn't choose this sport.
M: Yes, of course, and now even more.
you went from gymnastics to figure skating…
A: Yes, I started with gymnastics, and then I decided to switch to skating because it looked pretty and my family also liked this sport very much. I began as a single skater, but then I thought that ice dancing was more artistic, more "me", so I became an ice dancer.
When and how did you team up?
there a dance team that has inspired you?
Troph√©e Lalique 2003
still someone you look to for inspiration?
A: The situation is a bit different now because we are skating at the highest level and we don't want to copy anyone; we want to have our own style. It's our turn to be copied actually…
M: But if we see another couple doing something interesting, we might try to use that somehow.
A: Yes, exactly, we look at the other couples and if we see some details we like, we might try to work on the idea. But we are mostly inspired by the couples who skated before us.
known for always having very original programs. Who chooses
the music? How do you create the theme of your programs?
A: Maxim and I choose the music together and we come up with most of the ideas. Of course our choreographer and coach always suggest various pieces of music, but we are the ones who skate and we know what we want to do and what we can express on the ice. We always try to find something original and interesting, and our choreographer and coach help us create the theme and the choreography.
And where did
you find the music for this year's free dance, "Bach to Africa"?
A: First we had chosen something more classical, but we changed our minds because we learned that Navka and Kostomarov were skating to a classical piece and we wanted to be different from them again. Then some ballet friends of our choreographer suggested this music to him, because they had watched our previous programs and thought that we could express this music on the ice. We found it very interesting so we decided to use it.
GPF2002-03 - Exhibition "Absinth Drinker"
Some people say
that your programs are actually too original and therefore
complicated to understand. How do you feel about that?
M: It was a big problem in our first years together, but I think that now it's not so difficult to understand our programs anymore.
A: At the beginning, we had a lot of fans in Europe and Japan, but it was very hard for us to skate in the US and Canada because nobody understood our programs. But in the last 3-4 years, we've also gained lots of fans in North America.
M: I think it started when we showed them "Absinth drinker". They liked that program, because it was not as difficult to understand as the other programs.
A: And now we don't have a problem anywhere in the world, so I think the audience accepts our programs and that's what’s important to us.
Troph√©e Eric Bompard 2004
a reason why you often change costumes for the same
program during a season?
How many hours
do you practice?
M: Don't ask! It would be much easier to say how many hours of rest we have!
A: Around 7-8 hours a day, sometimes 6 when we have competitions, but a lot anyway. We skate at least 4 hours a day and we have practices on the floor– we do ballet and modern ballet, we work on our programs together with our choreographer…
M: In short: during the day we train and at night we sleep!
Do you spend
more time training in Moscow or in Sofia?
A: In Moscow, we are there the whole winter. We only spend 3 months in the summer in Sofia.
Out of pure
curiosity, do you speak Russian or Bulgarian to each other?
A: It depends. When we are in Bulgaria we speak Bulgarian, and in Russia – Russian! But when we skate we always speak Russian, because our coach and choreographer are both Russian, and besides, many skating terms don't even exist in Bulgarian.
Which must mean that the interest in figure skating isn't very big in Bulgaria. Yet you opened your own skating club in Sofia…
M: Yeah, you want to join?
a bit far… but what made you open the club?
M: We wanted somebody to continue our job. Albena's sister began to ice dance, we found her a coach in Russia, and now there is a club! And what will we do after we stop our career? Of course we want to skate as professionals and do some shows, but then? Maybe we will coach, I don't know…
A: Ivan Dinev and we are now the only elite skaters left in Bulgaria, so we are working hard at trying to make this sport more popular in our country.