During West In Lyon 2019, we had the chance to ask Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann some questions.

You have been partners for a very long time, what do you love about each other’s dancing?

Jordan: Even from when we were kids, I always noticed that Tatiana was fearless. That was always very exciting for me. We were able to try and create new things because she would never say ‘no’. I could come up with the craziest idea ever. I want you to dive towards the floor I’m going to just hold your hand, and you’re going to slide through my legs. She doesn’t hesitate. Her gymnastics training has made her fearless. That is something that I really appreciate about her dancing, not only with me, but in Jack and Jill’s and out in public. I think that the hard thing is that we’re always so worried about how we look. And sometimes you just need to jump, to go for it.

Tatiana: For me, I’ve always loved his musicality.  When he dances, it has to be spontaneous and there must be a strong connection at the same time, it’s just very powerful.  On top of that, he always looks very clean and he’s quite meticulous in his dancing. Sometimes I feel like people can either have really good musicality or have really good technique, but it’s very rare that someone has both.  Also, I feel like Jordan has all the qualities of a leader. I think he is able to perfectly communicate his musicality and his lines always look amazing. That’s how I feel, and I love the way he feels when we dance. He feels so incredible, I trust everything he does.  Like I can throw myself at any moment and he has me. I never feel like he will drop me and I know he will always be there. That’s really hard to find: the whole package.

18 years ago

You stopped competing in classic division, but you’re still doing shows. What makes you loving doing shows ?

Jordan : We never fell out of love with routines and performing. We would still probably compete forever. At a certain point, you have to look at what motivates you most. When you are kids it has to be very important to you, and then over time it becomes a goal, like I want to be a champion. When we found that goal, it became I want to win this many times maybe two, three, we’d set a goal as kids that maybe we could get 10. Maybe we could do that if we tried really hard. When we started to get closer and closer we had to stay concentrated on winning  . But slowly as the years go on, your motivation changes. It’s never the same as winning the first time, first time is the real one that means so much. When you win it matters but you’re not doing it for the win you’re doing it for art, doing it for the music, to challenge yourself. Later, when you start to realize that it’s not about the competition, it’s more about creativity and art, so then you start to realize I don’t want to do this routine to win. I want to do this routine for what we feel now, for what we want to express. So towards the later years we’ve found ourselves really wanting to be artists more than competitors but if we’re going to compete we have to be competitive. It was just our mentality from the beginning. It’s how we were raised and it’s how we played sports and how she did gymnastics. We just grew up with this mentality. When we decided to retire it never meant that we weren’t still wanting to create it just meant we wanted to be able to do a piece that only pleases us. Sometimes we want to bring the audience to tears, other times we want to make them feel at ease, but we always want to be creative.  The rules are so restrictive because you can only do a certain number weight supported moves. Or that you only have three minutes for your routine. Every time we would come up with something, we’d have to look at it on video and check if it followed the rules. And so that’s why now we’re  still very motivated to do stuff and try new things, we have re-discovered our passion for dancing. Towards the end I felt like she was more competitive than me and that was making her lose her love for dance. Like it started to become, It was just, like a regiment when you’re just like okay practices are this long and we have to do this routine with this many tricks. We’ve got to get this many cheers. And so it just becomes a little less about art and more about winning. So towards the end when we reached our goal and you realize now what would make us keep doing this forever or what’s going to make us someday step away from it. And we were like, we need a break. So that was kind of why we made the decision to retire.

2018 Jordan & Tatiana’s show
Jordan & Tatiana’s show in West In Lyon 2019

You’re travelling all over the world, and you teach a lot, what do you love about teaching ?

Tatiana : I actually love seeing the change in the students and as a teacher the hardest part is to try to find the best way to try something to get them to change. It’s actually very interesting. You know I love helping people. It’s my nature. So helping people to actually do it to make a difference. That’s the thing. So that’s my biggest thing about teaching.

Jordan : Yeah I think so too. You know it’s really interesting what Tatiana said of how to find the right way to change someone like because you think as a teacher there’s one way to say something and that the way we say it forever and then you realize that every person learns differently. So it’s funny how for some pupils, you give one lesson and it clicks right away. For other pupils, it doesn’t, you have to get creative, you have to sometimes get on the floor you have to move their leg, touch their foot. So it’s a very interesting part. As kids we never thought this would be our career, like we didn’t say we want to be dance teachers some day. We just love this as a hobby. Tatiana wanted to do fashion. I was going to business, we had totally different mentalities. When we started getting asked to teach as kids, we didn’t know how to do it, we had to learn how to teach because this was something we do as children that we learnt very quickly. But it became something that we fell in love with and now being teachers is  our full time job. What we create and what we teach is a huge part of what we do.

Jordan & Tatiana teaching

Twenty years ago, did you just imagine, that you will influence west coast swing community so much? Was it your ambition, or has all of this built up as you progressed?

Tatiana : Again in the beginning. I guess for me like it was just happening, winning and that was all (laughs) . When I think about the influence now and he might feel differently. But I’ll tell you once we hit a certain point I was very much a surfer chick, like a really relaxed person about it. But then you know when you’re with somebody and he’s very competitive. I’m saying this in a good way because it’s a good thing, you know, opposites attract. But then I started getting his. I liked it and needed a push. “I kissed the pusher”. That was good for me.

So I guess after five wins. Around that time I started to think, OK now, I want to win. I mean for once I was like I want to continue this. So then I got more of his energy at practice and he’s heard about what it was like. It’s just discipline I guess more discipline and having more of a drive to do something.

Jordan : I don’t think it was ever. We never thought that this would leave the US. When we started, this was only three events a year and they were at one hotel, 30 minutes from our house, so we never traveled out of state. West Coast Swing was there but it wasn’t big and it wasn’t on the Internet, on YouTube and Facebook so you couldn’t tell who was dancing all over. You saw videos on tape. It wasn’t until YouTube came around and then we got asked to go to Europe the first time. And that’s where we saw the potential where we could go, we were around 19-20. So we had been dancing maybe eight, even nine years and we realize, gosh this could be global. But even if this is what we were hoping for, we never thought it was possible. I mean it was one event overseas, turned into three events, turned into five events, turned into hundreds events now. We travel probably half of the U.S. and half overseas. We could travel 100 percent overseas. There’s over 360 events in the World dance council right now, per year, in 52 weekends. That’s insane, the dance exploded. We never expected it to get this big.

But it did. It became a motivator when people said ‘Oh we’ve start dancing west coast swing because we saw your videos’. The first time we heard that, it was never a goal of ours because we thought this was only popular in the US.  Those videos have been around for a very long time, since the 60’s and 70’s, and West Coast Swing has started to become more popular and the community is growing. More people were finding the dance videos through YouTube through salsa dancers. That’s when it really became a motivation to say yes to India, yes to Japan, yes to a bachata event, and yes to a ballroom event. Because it excites us to introduce new people to wcs.

Could you share with us one of your worst and best memories from your entire career ?

Tatiana : The worst was during the US Open in 2007. We did The Fray’s  “How to to save a life” which was the first time we danced to that kind of song.

Jordan : In 2007, we put this routine together and then we had another idea.  We decided to go with the song, very late, like November first. So we choreographed how to save a life in fourteen days, it was the quickest ever. But it’s just that the song came to us and it felt different. We trashed the first routine. The idea was adding a story and that was very interesting because we had never done that. We never focused on the story. So we loved that but I don’t know if we were ready. It was the first time we made a mistake. We made a big mistake and we couldn’t hide it. We missed the trick. In our career we had never felt so bad. Maybe not winning every time, maybe sometimes a little messed up, but never something that just took us completely out.

Tatiana : It was very obvious the judge saw and we couldn’t hide it!

Jordan : It’s interesting how that makes you feel, and what you learn from that. So we got third at the open which is still amazing for some people. We were just frustrated not because of placement but because we wanted to present ourselves a certain way.

Tatiana : We dit a routine and we wanted to perform it at its best. So we did it the next year at the US Open and we changed the costumes.

Jordan : For us it was more we wanted the routine done the right way on the Open Floor. That’s all that mattered. Like this routine deserved to get presented the right way once, so we did it all year and it kept going on all year long after the open so we knew it was right. We just knew it didn’t get the right showing. So we did it the year after at the Open. When we got to the Open it was making the decision are we going to do it again. We had black costumes for the first time and the second time we wore white. It was almost like a rebirth. We want to show this done the right way. So it was more a selfish thing we wanted because it to be done right. It was like that full circle feeling.

Tatiana : I love it, because it means a lot to us.

Tatiana : What’s our best ?

Jordan : I think our best is the first time winning adults. When we partnered up together it was 2000, we were juniors, the last year in juniors we won. We were 17. That was amazing, that first win because I had dance in the U.S. Open since 95 she was dancing since 96, we never won in juniors. We came close, sometimes 3rd place, I got second place, we never won. And this was our last year and we won. And then we knew that going into adults the next year it was going to be a challenge. We were excited because we were moving. We grew up with Benji and Heidi and other kids that we had grown up with and now we were moving into adulthood together. And so way back then like we talked about how Benji was going to do showcase and we were going to do classic and as friends we were going to be able to help each other and not have to compete against each other because we always together as kids. So it’s very cool to go in as young kids, people were excited to see us but they didn’t know if we were going to do well with the adults. So that was a very special year to win. To win our first then Benji and Heidi won their first event. They won showcase, we won classic, we got to celebrate that moment together. We were all the young next generation, it was very special for us. It never feels quite like that one. It’s exciting to win again. It never feels like the first time.

Do you have something to share with wcs community with the readers ?

Jordan : We’re just happy wherever dance is, we are just happy to be where dance is growing, how dance is changing. It’s become a very high quality.  I think that the dance community has become a lot younger. I think the dancers coming from rock n roll in France, rock’n’roll and acrobatics, people coming from Boogie Woogie and others coming from salsa. The other dances bring their training but they’re now learning our very difficult form. And so we’re proud to see just how the general skill level of the dance world as gone up. Look at a novice Jack’n’Jill 20 years ago compared to a novice Jack and Jill now, It’s just unreal they don’t even resemble each other. When we were judging as kids we were taught to judge just basics. Novice Jack’n’Jill sometimes looks like intermediate or advanced elsewhere. So we’re just very proud of all that dance is. We’re just fortunate. I think we’re all fortunate that this community has gotten so big that now so many people can create a career out of it. The generation that we looked up to, a lot of them had jobs and they dance on the side it wasn’t their full time career. So amazing that now young kids growing up can say I want to be a West Coast Swing teacher when I grow up I want to be a dance professional.I told my dad I wanted to be a dancer. He thinks, ok how are you going to pay for your kids. How you gonna feed your wife?

And so that just never existed. And like these pros right before us were just starting to break the mold, you know, unless you had a studio, there just wasn’t enough people to make up a community. And the community got bigger and bigger and people were traveling full time. And so we just had a perfect time in the world. It was just starting to grow to the point that we never had a 9 to 5 job.

You were able to find your passion. Fall In love with it and now doing it forever. And now there’s a new generation where they do that at 12.

So I think, we’re just we’re super happy with what dance is we’re super happy to see where it goes from here.

I think it’s always important, if you’re new to West Coast Swing, to go back and learn the roots like do your history like learn about the people that came before us. Because for a lot of people West Coast Swing started with our generation. And when you go back and you look at history you just have a better understanding of what it was and what it could be. Just like any schooling. I think that’s important. I think that goes in waves. Sometimes people want to push the boundaries of dance.

I think for now people are looking again for what dance’s roots are.

Jordan & Tatiana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.