Forget Strictly, Greenwich has its own Ballroom Champion!
Q & A with alumnus Alexander Shindila – World Professional Ten Dance Champion (2016)
How did you get into ballroom dancing?
I have been dancing for over 26 years, and I am nearly 32 now. My parents took me to my first ballroom and Latin class when I was about five, six years old. I was also seriously training in tennis at the time. By the time I turned eight it became difficult to keep up with the intensity of training in dance, tennis, and my studies. So my parents presented me with a choice. Education was always a number one priority, so I had to choose between dancing and tennis. For some reason I chose ballroom and Latin dancing.
Soon afterwards I was invited to join the biggest dance club in the Republic of Moldova and at the age of 14 I became a finalist for my first World Final, coming third in the Junior World Ten Dance Championships.
At what age did you realise you wanted to dance professionally?
At the age of 18 I was invited to England for a try-out with a British female dancer Katie Gleeson (also a University of Greenwich alumna). English coaches saw us dancing together and suggested that we could be quite successful together.
That was the beginning of a very long partnership that saw Katie and myself become the British Under 21 Ballroom Champions (and the finalist in most British National championships and all major dance competitions in the Professional Rising Star Ballroom field). After 12 years of dancing together Katie and I decided to end our partnership and pursue our dreams separately. I felt that my dancing was lacking passion, so I decided to partner up with my girlfriend at the time, Jade Main, and take on the most challenging dance event called Ten Dance!
How did you feel after winning the World Professional Ten Dance championship?
That was the proudest moment of our lives, something that no one could take away from us. Being the World Champion is the best feeling you can ever get. So I can honestly say that “dreams do come true with hard work and dedication”.
What struggles did you face during your time at Greenwich?
I must admit studying at university and trying achieve your dreams at the same time was tough. I didn’t really have any friends at university as I didn’t have much time to spend with my peers outside of university hours.
During my three years at Greenwich I didn’t go out once with fellow students as my schedule was very strict. When I wasn’t studying I was training.
How would you summarise your experience at Greenwich?
One of the reasons I was able to enjoy my experience at Greenwich was due to the continued welcoming and supportive attitude from members of staff. If we ever had a question or difficulties our tutors did everything they could to help.
Overall my experience at Greenwich was absolutely everything I could have dreamt of. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to say that I am a graduate from one of the most prestigious universities in England and the world.
If you could travel back in time to when you were a student at Greenwich, what would you say to your student self?
I would tell myself to be less shy in lectures, to challenge myself more in all activities, and to be more open-minded in general. Sometimes you think you know best, but later you realise that’s not always the case.