Roman Pecha is a student in his fresher year at MVŠO. In addition to academic success he can also be proud of a whole row of international sports awards. How does one combine a professional dancing career with college studies? Read this interview with him to find out.
How long have you been involved in dance as a sport and how often do you train for it?
I began to dance in second grade at elementary school, so altogether I have been dancing for twelve (12) years. I basically practice every day. My weekends are devoted to competing. Competitions usually take place as often as three times a month, depending on the time of year. In order to participate in them, we travel not only around the Czech Republic, but also abroad, in which case we normally depart on Friday and return on Monday. We also take part in intensive training courses or various camps several times a year. It is very time-consuming, but it is worth every minute of the time I dedicate to it.
Has dance been beneficial for you in general? Does dancing make life better?
Definitely. For one thing, I have had to learn how to plan my time, so I have become a master at time-management. I also know that I cannot procrastinate, because there is no time available for doing so. If I have made plans to study for one hour, then I really do study for that one hour. For some time now. I also train other dancers. I work with children who are in the first and second grades at basic school. It is necessary for me to communicate with both the children and their parents, which has led to the betterment of my communication skills. Thanks to my dancing, I have a wealth of experience abroad, which means that I have been trained by foreign coaches who spoke to me solely in English. The main thing, though, that dance has taught me, is to face failure, stand up when I fall, and carry on.
What do you consider to have been your greatest successes?
So far in my dancing career it has been winning two national championships before the age of 21 in standard ballroom dancing and in the “10T“ competition, in which we must dance all ten competition styles from both standard ballroom dancing and also from Latin American rhythms. I also was a participant in several world championships in the”Youth” category. The greatest accomplishment for me was when I proceeded to the quarter-final in Japan. It was a wonderful experience for me, thanks to which I gained fresh motivation and an appetite for more training. In addition to these dance sport achievements, I also have a sense of accomplishment thanks to having successfully completed my school-leaving examinations at the Slovanské (Slovanic) gymnázium (college prep school), because I often had to, due to my dancing, study under the pressure of time, but I managed it I think it is quite likely that my greatest successes in life are awaiting me in my future.
Roman Pecha (lifting his trophy over his head) at the Czech Championship for dancers up to the age of 21 (photo: Czech Dance Sport Organisation)
How are you managing to combine dance with your studies at MVŠO?
So far, so good. Some days have been more challenging, but up until now I have had Thursdays and Fridays off, so it was possible to make it work time-wise.
Do you think that it is a disadvantage at school to have such a demanding hobby?
It long ago ceased to be merely a hobby. If there is any disadvantage involved, it is in the fact that some of my teachers don´t know about my dancing yet. Sometimes when I have come back from a competition at three in the morning and I didn´t have the strength to come to school, I had to come here anyway, in order to fulfill my attendance obligations. In general, however, I don´t feel disadvantaged in any way.
How did the examination period go?
I have it completely behind me now and, overall, it has left me with a good feeling. It was more difficult due to the fact that I was in preparation for the Czech championship in standard ballroom dancing, which took place on the 2nd of February, 2019, but I managed to do it all. What is more, the first week in January I was at an intensive training camp in Italy, so I wasn´t able to study at that time. In spite of that I didn´t have to find any individual term for any exam with any of my teachers and was able to coordinate everything. I endeavoured to do as many exams as possible as early as I could, in December. That is one of the reasons why I had only one exam, (in mathematics), left to do in January, which I passed with flying colours. For each exam I set up a precise time during which I studied for it. As I couldn´t interrupt my preparation for the championship, it was of the essence to plan my dance training time very exactly and also when and for how long to study for each exam.
Have you considered enrolling in the “combined“ (part-time) study program?
I did think it over, but I am even busier at weekends than during the regular workweek. As I have already mentioned, I compete during the weekend. If I have a certain schedule, I can plan, with my dance partner, our training sessions based on our days off and where we have a free hour or two, but I cannot change how the competitions are scheduled. That is why the combined study program would not make sense for me. The normal daytime form of study suits me best.
Why did you decide to study economics rather than dance? What influenced your choice of school?
I was asking myself the question of whether or not to study at all, but I said to myself that one day my dancing career will come to an end and I want to have something I can start doing in the future. The other reason was the field of study itself. It seemed like a waste of time to me to study some sports major when it comes to having a Plan B for the future. One of my conditions was that I wanted to stay in Olomouc. It was a choice between the Faculty of Physical Culture and MVŠO. In the end, MVŠO won out.
Where do you see yourself a couple of years from now? Do you want to keep on dancing?
I would very much like to continue devoting myself to dance as a sport. I also want to complete my studies without delay. I hope to continue on here after graduating and eventually acquire a Master´s degree.