Tarja – destined to dance | Sunday Observer

Tarja – destined to dance

18 October, 2020

It can truly be said that Tarja de Silva was destined to dance. At eleven years of age she fell in love with dance  and  the passion for it blossomed from then on.

Today, Tarja de Silva is a much sought after performer at social events in Colombo and with her mesmerising dancing always manages to keep the audience wowed.

Tarja is also a professional in fashion  designing and currently  works as a  Product Developer with  international corporate giant, Marks  and  Spencer. The Youth Observer had a chat with this unique young lady recently.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Tarja, can we  go back in time and talk about  your childhood?

A: I was born in  Helsinki, Finland on  June  6, 1988,  on a summer’s day.

My late grandfather Prof. Carlo Fonseka had  been compelled to  relocate to Finland during troubled times in Sri Lanka and took  his family  with him.  My mother, Indunil gave me a Finnish name, Tarja (pronounced Tarya).

My dad Chandana de Silva joined us in Finland later.

I have always had a thirst for travel, as I have been traveling ever since my birth. Thatthi, having been in the travel industry made it a point to show me the world and every year we  visited a country as a family - to date we try to uphold this family tradition.

My  school teacher mother  supervised  most of my elementary and primary school education and ensured  I got good grades. Due to  her tutoring I  was always among the top  three in  class.

 At St. Bridget’s Convent, I was a very obedient yet active student  with  good grades  and this led me to become a prefect in both  the primary and upper school.

 I was always into the arts during my school days and enjoyed painting, singing and dancing.

When teachers asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always used to say “a painter”.

 I was very active in  several societies and always fronted

 At 11 years Ifound my passion in Ballroom dancing. My dad took me to this ballroom dance competition at the Hilton  and the moment I set eyes on the beautiful costumes and the Latin beats; I knew instantly that this is what I wanted to do. I started dancing competitively at national level under Antoni’s dance circle. 

I contributed all my  dance knowledge to  my school and helped choreograph dance routines since age 13 until I left school.

Two of my friends and I started a dance troupe during school called ‘Les Trois’; We represented school at inter school dance competitions and soon started dancing for professional shows.

It’s true to say that performing on stage started very young for me and I consider the stage my home, my happy place.

Q: What about your tertiary education?

A: Seeing my keen interest in the arts and my love for creating all my dance costumes; my mother encouraged me to do fashion designing.

 I completed my HND at The Academy of Design and completed  my BA and Masters at the University of Hertfordshire , UK and UWE, Bristol.

In UK, I continued my ballroom dancing and went on to compete at one of the world’s biggest ballroom competitions in the UK-  the Blackpool International Dance Championships (which was always one of my dreams).

Q: The biggest influences in your life?

A: My parents and grandparents have been the biggest influences in my life.

I owe everything to my family; they are my support system and have always encouraged me to achieve the best in life.

Q: What about your involvement with  fitness please?

A: I took up fitness when I was living in UK and realised how competitive the ballroom dance field was.

 I knew I had to be in my best physique and so I got into fitness.

I got my zumba license while in England but soon decided to create my own workout routines called Dance Fit. The studio T&A Fitness is a joint venture between my husband and myself. I teach dance fit twice a week at  my newly opened  studio T& A and have a loyal group of clients  who have been with me since I started in 2014.

My husband Alberto  teaches most of the other fitness classes. 

Q: What about your professional life apart from T & A Fitness?

A: I currently work as a Product Developer for Marks and Spencer.

Previously, I worked as a senior designer at MAS. I dance professionally at events and social functions. My husband Alberto teaches most of the other fitness classes.

Q: Your training in dance?

A: My first teacher was Antonio Fernandez. His wife Michelle trained the kids team and this is where I learnt my basics and first steps.

I then danced with Kevin Nugara and partnered him in International competitions.

I continued my Ballroom education in the UK under Pam Mcgilvy and Gunnar Gunnarsson.

Today, I dance with Aunty Naomi Rajaratnam at her dance school and was a part of her production Grace and Glory last year.

Besides ballroom dancing I have tried  some Hip Hop with Natasha Jayasuriya at the Deanna School of Dancing.

 I dance hip hop, jazz and freestyle at Muddrika’s dance studio as a team member and occasionally I instruct there.

I have learnt so much from each of these teachers. However, I owe a lot of my dance learning to my dance partners as well; because the type of dancing I do depends heavily  on a good partnership- it isn’t a solo type of skill.

Q: 9 What has dance given you in life?

A: It has taught me discipline, the importance of team work, how to work in a partnership, how to take defeat, how to handle politics.

 It has brought out strength, determination and courage in me that I didn’t know I possessed.

But most importantly dance has given me true happiness and freedom- I am the best version of myself when I am dancing.   I want to give others the same joy and happiness  that I feel when dncing. 

Q: You have had a fairy tale romance and wedding. What was it like?

A: My wedding was everything I imagined it would be and more.

I had everyone I loved around me and that’s all that mattered on that day.

 Please say something about your husband.

I met my Spanish husband in the UK at a  salsa class in Bristol. We dated  a few  times before  I returned to Sri Lanka.But we kept in touch almost daily. Fate had other plan for us; Alberto was offered a job as a personal trainer here in SL.

A few months later he shifted his entire life to SL to be with me. Alberto is one of the most supportive and understanding people in my life and  has never tried to change anything about me and accepts me as I am with the good and the bad.

Q: In your opinion what would generally constitute a healthy diet?

A: Getting in your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and not overindulging.

Q: Does SL traditional food lend itself to healthy eating?

A: Rice and curry can be extremely healthy- it has at least 3-4 vegetable items and 1-2 protein items.

Lentils are packed with protein and is extremely good for you.

Rice - if we limit ourselves to one cup this would be the perfect quantity.

I think it’s all about the portions you eat and healthy eating shouldn’t be so difficult.

Q: Your future plans?

A: To grow our newly founded business, T&A Fitness.

Q: Finally, how does Tarja see herself?

A: Determined, motivated and always positive.