Monday, 28 March 2011

interview with a PRO: Emmy Marie Simonsen

This month we will have an interview from the world of dog dance. A person from Denmark which showed that with the commitment you will get excellent results. For example, the victory at the 2010 Nordic Heelwork to Music.
Emmy dog dancing has grown since 1998 when she and her collie Kiri made their first demonstration at the Danish Collie Club's 50 anniversary.
In 2004 she was invited to judge at Germany's largest dog dancing competition Norddeutsche Dogdance-Turnier.In the 2005 in Denmark with her dog Whisper she obtained the highest points number with their interpretation of Harry Potter. Since then she has had great success in Danish and international competitions.
Emmy has held several seminars and courses on dog dancing in Denmark, Italy, Australia, Sweden and Germany and she has written articles on the subject of various dog magazines. In 2007 her first book "It's Showtime" on Dog Dancing was released from the publisher Dogtraining Books.
read carefully, another good interview :)

Let's start with the warm-up questions 

The last time you washed the dishes?

Yesterday! I don't have a dishwasher, so I have to do it almost every day, but I've been too busy to cook today, so I haven't had any dishes to clean.

You use the crocks in the summer or wearing traditional sandals?
Sandals - I hate crocks!

Have you ever gone fishing ?
Yes. I grew up in Greenland and my parents had a very good friend, who owned a ship and made a living of sailing goods up and down the West Coast of Greenland. He had a son, Morgan, and when my family and I were sailing with them, Morgan and I would be fishing. We used to catch codfish in the harbours, but our parents always threw them back into the sea as they were disgusting from the dirty water - pollution from all the ships coming in and out of the busy harbours.

Never mind, better that we goes to the interview...

Could you tell our readers a little about yourself

My name is Emmy Marie Simonsen and I live in the small town Sorø in Denmark. I work in a home for mentally handicapped young people and train dogs in my spare time.
I have 4 dogs:
Whisper (Border Collie "Bridacre Wisp", 11 years old) - he is a true all-rounder.
He is Danish Obedience, HTM and Freestyle Champion and he has won Herding titles and been competing successfully in agility. He is my best friend and soul mate.
He won the Individual Nordic HTM Championship 2009 and was on the Danish HTM Team that won the World Championship and the Nordic Championship 2010. Whisper has been the most successful Danish HTM and Freestyle dog ever since the sport was approved by the Danish Kennel Club and he was HTM Dog Of the Year in Denmark in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Biscuit (Sheltie "The Charmed Ones' Biscuit in Blue", 6 years old) - Danish
Freestyle Champion and a funny little dog. Small in size - big in attitude! He has
been representing Denmark at Crufts twice and will be again this year. He was also on the Danish Freestyle Team that won World Championship Silver in 2010. He was Freestyle Dog Of The Year in Denmark 2009.
Beat (Border Collie "Sheringem Rhythm Of Dance", 2½ years old) - he has been a
very challenging dog to train, but he is doing well and I am very proud of him for
choosing to work with me despite of all his worries. He has qualified for advanced
HTM and Freestyle in Denmark. 
And finally I have little Hero (Border Collie "Littlethorn Feet Of Flames"), who
is only 6 months old and great grandchild to my old Border Collie Multi Champion
"Whenway Decorated Hero" (Robbie) - a dog that I loved and admired more than words can describe. Hero himself is a wonderful little man with a super personality.

What has fascinated you in dog dancing at the biginning?
I saw an HTM demonstration in England in 1998 and when the dog, the handler and the music became one, it became magical and it really moved me. I wanted to know how it felt to be able to move people like that with the work I did with my dogs, so I decided to give it a go.

Tell us more about "the idea" It's Showtime book? How it all started ?
I was contacted by a Danish publishing company 'Dogtraining Book'. They wanted to publish a book that should help beginners to get started in this wonderful new
sport and it should also have ideas to help more experienced handlers improve. The publisher asked me if I would be interested in writing such a book for them and I accepted with no hesitation. I love writing and I love to talk about dog dancing,
so it was a great opportunity for me. It took about a year to write it and I am
very happy with the result. I think it is a good book.
The photos in the book are taken by a wonderful photographer Vicky Bjerring and
the photo sessions were an experience! It was in the middle of the summer and so
very hot. I think we went out 3 times trying to get the perfect cover photo and we
came home with beautiful photos, but the editor wanted it to be very special and
she kept asking for something different. I was in my hot costumes, had the sun
blinding me and was still trying to work my dogs and look happy.
On one of the sessions we were out in a big country park. We had worked for hours in the sun and when we were ready to go home, the photographer had lost her car keys! We searched and panicked and finally she found them in her bag!
I must say that the cover photo we ended up with is stunning. It is my old Border
Collie Robbie and his son Whisper working side by side.

Do you remember your first routine?
I remember my first routine very well. It was with my rough collie Kiri to Lloyd
Webber's 'Any Dream Will Do'. We performed it at the Rough Collie Club's 50 Years Anniversary Show. The musical interpretation was non-existing and it was mainly heelwork, but Kiri worked so well for me.
Years later, when I was teaching a workshop for the Danish Kennel Club, I asked
the pupils why they wanted to get started with dog dancing and one of the handlers told me about this young girl she once saw at a rough collie show. It turned out that she had seen Kiri's and my very first performance and we had moved her so that she had never forgotten about it - just like I dreamt of doing.

Have you ever dreamed of a routine and then have the repeated immediately in the
morning , before you forget it ?

No. I wish choreographing came that easy to me though!

Explain to as your typical training day.
I almost always train the dogs in the same order - Hero first, then Beat, Biscuit
and Whisper last. How I train depends on where we are in the process of
creating/practising/performing a routine. In the beginning we just work on
learning new moves. Later we want to make it flow well and finally the routine
needs to be polished before it is ready for performance. Once we start competing
with it, we work on keeping the dog motivated and improving accuracy. Each dog has its own personality, so training is very in individual.
I have a very good training partner, Helle. I try to meet with her at least a
couple of times each month to get feedback and new eyes on my work.

Where do you get inspiration for a new routine?
From the music. I listen to the music and that's where the ideas come from.

Which has been for you the perfect routine, if there was ?
I don't think I have seen or performed a perfect routine, but some of my routines
have meant a lot to me. Whisper's Ratatouille routine is very special to me and I
am embarrassed to say that I loved Beat's Waltzing Mathilda too because it was
funny and surprising :-).
Biscuit's All I Care About Is Love was great fun to perform and very nice too.

Whisper Winner Of The Nordic HTM Championship 2009
by heelwork2music

12 mth old Border Collie Beat (Sheringem Rhythm Of Dance) performing his very first Heelwork To Music routine to Rolf Harris' Walzing Mathilda
by heelwork2music

Biscuit performing his Freestyle routine to 'All I Care About is Love' from Chicago.
by heelwork2music

As you can see the HTM & Freestyle world Championship 2011 in Paris. Who do you think is the favorite?
Well unfortunately it looks like the French Kennel Club has decided to cancel the
World Championship just 3 weeks after they sent the invitations out. But if they had not cancelled, I would have been judging so I would not have any favourite.

You are a very important dog dance icon in Denmark and around the World . How do you feel in this role?
I don't think of myself that way. I love my dogs and I love the sport, so I am
just very pleased when I get to combine all of that with travelling, performing
and teaching.

Do you have some plans for the future?
I have my new puppy Hero and I am really looking forward to see what the future
holds for us. He seems so talented and keen so I am very excited by the thought of
everything I will learn from him and all the adventures we will have together.
I have just retired Whisper from competition and he does leave a huge gap in my
'competition life'. He has been a star and so reliable. I am trying to get used to
the thought of a future without him as my faithful dancing partner. Luckily
Biscuit has matured a lot this last year and has coped well with some difficult
situations like performing on a live TV show on Saturday night.
I guess my plans for the future is to keep having fun with my dogs and do the very
best I can with them.


Emmy and Robbie (CH Whenway Decorated Hero) performing their Freestyle routine to 'Sparkling Diamonds' from Moulin Rouge in heavy rain!!!!
by heelwork2music

Sheltie Biscuit performing on TV2's live show Bingo Banko on 23rd October 2010.
by heelwork2music

Hero & Jazz - 5½ mth old.
by heelwork2music

Biscuit performing at the FCI Freestyle World Championship 2010
by heelwork2music

Emmy and Whisper performing 'Dance Of The Knights' in Markfield, UK
by heelwork2music

all the photos are a courtesy of Emmy Marie Simonsen


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