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Against All Odds, Coppola And Maximkina Form New Couple During Lockdown 17/09/2020


Speak to almost any DanceSport couple and you will quickly discover that they are not ones to sit around waiting for things to happen. Dancers, as a rule, prefer to create their own destinies.

Take Vito Coppola and Uliana Maximkina, for example. A few months ago during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were partnerless and perfect strangers. And now? Well, they are the newest Latin couple poised to take the dance world by storm.

The story of how they came together is unquestionably unique. Introduced by a mutual friend during lockdown, the two began their relationship by texting each other: Vito in Italy and Uliana in Russia. After mutually deciding that there was enough je ne sais quoi between them to move forward, they agreed to meet.

There was only one small problem: How to get Uliana from Russia to Italy at the height of the pandemic?

As they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Uliana managed to book a flight to Rome. The two met for the first time at the airport. Because Uliana immediately had to quarantine for two weeks, it meant their first steps together were performed in the kitchen. Not long after, on 25 July, they announced their new partnership on Instagram.

We reached out to the new couple recently to learn more about their unusually eventful year, plans for the future, and any advice they have for dancers struggling with the inconveniences of life under the coronavirus.

Q: Do you have a date or event in mind to make your competitive debut?

A: Unfortunately, the situation with the pandemic doesn’t give us the possibility to answer right now, but we are looking forward to our debut and we hope that it will happen very soon.  We’ll be ready and in shape for sure!

Q: What do each of you bring to the partnership? What are Vito’s strengths and what are Uliana’s strengths?

Uliana: I think the main idea of our couple will be to mix the best qualities. With our knowledge and experience, we are able to bring a new look to the trends of WDSF dance.

It is probably not very modest to talk about my best qualities so I will speak about Vito. Vito is definitely a very physically strong, powerful athlete. As a partner, he has confidence, credibility and a natural sense of style that makes him special. Also, as it turned out, we are both perfectionists. That’s why in the training process we can always ask for advice, create and trust each other.

Vito: Well, as Uliana said, we come from two different realities and that’s why we are even more exited to discover our new style together. In certain aspects we are different and in others similar. But it’s all very interesting for both of us. I am quite sure that it is going to be a great challenge for us as a couple, and a great goal to achieve.

All the feedback has been very positive, and we are happy for this. For sure it will be a “fresh change,” but we won’t unveil our secrets yet!

As for Uliana, I will tell you what I call her, because from this you will understand directly what I think of her: She is a lion! She doesn’t need to be introduced. She just arrives on the dance floor and burns everything like a very hungry lion! That’s Ulia for me. Nothing more. You will see for yourself!

Q: How often are you training together right now?

A: We practice every day, and if we feel that our bodies and minds are asking us to stop, we take a day off. Usually we practice every single moment we have the possibility, wherever we are. It doesn’t matter day or night. Mentally and physically we work hard!

Q: Has training been difficult with COVID-19 restrictions? If so, how?

A: At the moment, the most difficult thing is wearing a mask even during practice and when we dance. It looks funny and is difficult to breathe, but you get used to it. In any case, it’s better this way than without practice at all.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown affected you professionally as dancers as well as personally? Have you discovered anything new and surprising about yourselves during this period?

U: At the beginning of the pandemic, for me began a life that I had not lived for a long time. I returned to my hometown to my family and spent the whole lockdown with them. (I first left my hometown when I was 14.)

I used this wonderful time to deeply look inside myself and at the same time to look at my life from the outside. You start to reconsider your priorities. You try to hear your true desires. I know that many dancers were pushed by the pandemic to stop their dancing career.

During a time of silence, it is important to slow down. In the end you can make a huge transformation of yourself: develop as a professional and as a person. That’s what I was actually doing. The main word during this situation for me has been – “adaptation.” You can be endlessly sad about the things that are happening in the world, fall into depression, and so on. But if you get all your strength together, add a little optimism and ADAPT, you will definitely be a winner in any case.

The most interesting thing that I newly discovered about myself was: I can. There were many of them – physical and mental. And, of course, the most important thing is that I can hold a plank position for 17 minutes!

V: Let’s say that this strange situation didn’t affect me badly. I like to see the shiny side of the medal and so I can say that because of the lockdown I had the possibility to finish all my exams at the university and I will graduate before the end of this year.

I never stopped training and practicing at home, in my garden. I did a lot of homework and smart work that helped me with my new projects. I decided to start my own blog, where I can write and post whatever I want with no filter at all. It’s like my virtual world, where everybody is very welcome to come. I changed some points of view, in a good way of course. I understood how lucky and happy I am! And I learned how to cook healthy!

Sometimes we need to stop and look around us, to appreciate what we have.

Q: How have you managed to keep fit and training?

U: Jogging, training with friends on video, treadmill, exercises in the park ... all kinds of activities were used. I will be honest, I was lucky. A month after the pandemic began, I found a private hall in my hometown where I could practice. So I practiced three times more than usual.

V: I never stopped! Every day I did my exercises. I ate well and I was very focused, being relaxed at the same time. My feeling was like I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I wanted to do. How strange eh? I know, but it’s the truth.

Another very good thing that helped me a lot was meditation. That was awesome!

Q: What do you miss the most about competitive dancing?

A: Well, as the word clearly says, we miss competitions. We are dancers, but we are also competitors. In sport, competition is a big part of the game.

We miss everything, but we found our own way to make a kind of simulation between us, in order to be ready when everything restarts!

And another thing is travel. We love to travel around the world, so that’s another factor we miss, but it won’t be for long we guess.

Q: Is there anything else you would like the DanceSport community and your fans to know about your year so far?

A: We prefer not to say too much before we even start. We both are people that like to demonstrate directly with the facts. How to put it exactly? Stay tuned and que sera sera! The best of luck to us then!

Q: Do you have any message for dancers, young and old, novices and pros out there?

A: Never stop believing in yourself and do everything possible to reach your goal. It’s never too soon or too late to do it.

Waiting and thinking is a waste of time. Just do it. No regrets! Everybody needs to take a risk. Nobody said that it’s easy, but nobody said it’s impossible!

So stay positive, smile and go on!


Vito and Uliana