Liza May

Liberty 2016 Update #4 - Maxime and Torri GET MARRIED!

This beautiful photo courtesy of Julia Illanes, Stockholm, Sweden

Guess what happens TOMORROW?

Maxime and Torri are GETTING MARRIED!

This Liberty Update is a toast to the beautiful new couple. Because Liberty is sort-of ... where it all started!

Liza: So! Tell us about the wedding!

Max: Everyone asks if we have a lot of pressure with the wedding so close. And we're like no, not really the wedding. The challenging part as been arranging the hosting of everybody coming over from the states. That has been a HUGE, fun, six-month project, so much fun to plan this for them.

Torri: My mom is really the only person in the family who's been to Europe - no one else! So we've planned a big tour for them all. France Italy Switzerland - it's been a five-month process planning flights, rental cars, hotels - fun!

Max: In France it's different than in the States. In France, many of the people, they don't go to church, they are not religious. So in France marriage is not a religious ceremony, it is a legal ceremony. You get married in City Hall.

Then, afterwards, the dinner and celebration we will have at Manoir de la Garde, about a 40 min drive from Lyon, in the Beaujolais. It is beautiful!

Manoir de La Garde is located in Ville-sur-Jarnioux, a part of the unique Pierres Dorées (golden stone) group of villages in the Beaujolais, comprising 38 communes where homes and vineyard buildings were built from a local limestone rock that is naturally tinted with iron oxide, giving it a distinctive golden yellow colour. Ville-sur-Jarnioux is one of the rare villages that has always contained an active quarry and limited supplies of the beautiful golden stone are still quarried today. On clear days, the French Alps with Mont Blanc stretch across the distant horizon.


They especially love the caves and wine cellars ...


Torri: A funny story - Our wedding is fairly small, 130 people, mostly family and very close friends. So I created an online wedding website at "knot," for the ones who like the convenience of RSVP-ing online. But we only realized too late that we'd made it look like our wedding was a major west coast swing event open to the public, in beautiful Beaujolais. Before we knew it we had huge floods of dancers RSVP-ing from all around the world, with their dinner choices and travel needs. Awkward! Hope I got that fixed ...

Max: We just bought a house! In September! We love it! But it needs a huge amount of renovation so we're in the middle of that, at the same time we're planning our wedding.

Torri: We love it! It's 1950's, three stories, huge, patterned wallpaper everywhere including on the ceilings! We're rennovating the entire thing - so it's like a construction site, everything is covered in dust. But it's so beautiful, we love it.

M: It's located right next to airport, so convenient for us. But in a very beautiful area. My parents are moving into the bottom part with their own separate entryway. We've built them a huge new kitchen with gorgeous rustic cabinetry, stone floors, rustic cabinetry, really beautiful for them.

Liza: Honeymoon plans?

M: No, probably not, because the house is taking a lot of money right now, and a lot of our time; and we have been travelling back and forth to America to see family.

T: We work in France so we are constantly travelling in Europe. We try to travel Friday-Sunday, unless it's a big event where have to be there Thursday-Monday. But usually not, so then we can be home for four days each week to work on the house. Max teaches on Tuesdays, I teach Wednesdays, which means on those days we are leaving the house by 5pm. So of those four days at home we have only 8am-5pm when workers can be in the house. There is a lot of coordinating we have to do to make it all work.

T: Our lifestyle has definitely changed. We are like the BIGGEST shoppers OMG. This weekend (at Liberty) we went in to New York for one day and we went CRAZY shopping! We love shopping! We love buying clothes. And SHOES! SHOES are both of our weakness. We're really bad. So we've had to kind of slow down our shopping sprees, which is difficult for us.

M: We also want to make everything special in our house. Every detail is important to us. And we have very very expensive tastes.

T: Oh that floor is QUADRUPLE the price? But that's the floor that we want! Of course, of all the flooring types, we want the wood floor that comes to a point - that's the one we choose. We love it they're like great! That'll be $100 per sq meter!

M: We have to be reasonable. We don't like it, but we have to.

T: We just got a puppy! A chihuahua! Her name is Macaroon! She's adorable. She's so tiny right now

M: She's our wedding present to each other.

T: Instead of "I'm buying you jewelry that you might wear one day"

M: Maybe we start a family like that,! And maybe this will be our child for a couple of years.

L: Do you want children?

M: Oh yes! But we're still babies. Maybe in a couple of years. We definitely want children. One, maybe. Two maximum. I think we'd both be okay with that.

T: Max has two sisters. But me, I'm an only child. And I found my passion so young. So to support me my dad was constantly working, and my mom was constantly travelling. And this community, when you're trying to accomplish something, it just takes money, money, money. Dancing is an extremely expensive sport.

I mean it's not just dance. Even if I had been a boy, and was doing football - that's not cheap either. As parents, to support your children, it takes so much, your total commitment and time and all your money. So we wonder if you have TWO kids and you want to support both their passions, how do you do it? How do you afford it, and how do you travel with both? And now you have to give up your own passion.

M: Dancing is expensive. Horses, riding, that is very expensive too. It's the other very expensive sport.

L: Max, United States dancers don't know you as well as we know US pros. I'd like to introduce you a little bit. How did you get into wcs?

M: I am a twin. I have a twin sister. So my mom thought that it would be amazing if we danced together. She said omg! I want them to dance together!

But I wanted to play soccer. So I tried soccer. And I was really bad at soccer. So I said okay, maybe I try dance.

So I will never forget: I was six (T: I was born already!) and my mom sent me to an east coast swing lesson. In France We call this "rock and roll. And I was pretty good. The teacher, after the first lesson, she told my mom, omg! He is GOOD! Is there a way that I can train him? This teacher wanted me to have a partner and compete in a contest, she thought I was good enough to compete. And she had a good partner for me. But I was like no, I want to dance with my sister.

This first competition my parents didn't know how I was. And then - we WON the competition! And my parents were so happy!

And so after this I did east coast swing for a long time, and won a lot of awards. Only six years old, and a lot of people noticing that I seemed to have a talent, and every year I was winning the French Cup.

It was all swing, all rock and roll, and Boogie-Woogie. Rock n' Roll and Boogie are really big in France.

Swing dancing -- known in France as rock 'n' roll, or simply "le rock" -- is incurably old-school, and that's exactly why the French love it.

This love story goes back to American GIs in France to liberate the country from Nazi occupation at the end of World War II, bringing along with them swing dancing.

Frankie Manning was at this time shaking America's dance floors and hearts with Lindy Hop -- the ancestor of all swing, including rock 'n' roll, boogie, and west coast swing.

French young people embraced Manning's moves immediately and in no time the hipster set were dancing Lindy in the caverns of the trendy St. Germain neighborhood of Paris.

Then along came Chuck Berry and Elvis, and in France the dance came to be known as "Le Rock."

In the 1960s, le rock was THE dance, not only in clubs, but also in village dancehalls and guinguettes (dances often held on riverbanks, in which accordions are a must.)

As the years went by, and electronic/techno/hip-hop music came into fashion, partner dancing went out of style everywhere around the world. Except in France. The French are still as hooked on swing dancing as ever, and Rock 'n' Roll is huge.

Especially for stylish members of the upper class, for whom it is another way to distinguish themselves from the other half. (The French version of American "preppies" or British "Sloane Rangers" - typically well-educated, well-connected, and descended from "old money" families, preferably with some aristocratic ancestry.)

According to Thierry Mantoux (author of BCBG - the French version of the American "Preppy Handbook," most people in France today know more or less how to dance rock 'n' roll, "but the French posh have taken it to a higher level. While rock 'n' roll was originally a subversive genre, the French elite have turned it into a fun but harmless dance and symbol of class. Rock holds an essential place for members of the upper class, partly because it is difficult to learn."

"The kind of rock that people dance in the chateaux of Brittany is stiffer, less groovy and generally less acrobatic than the boogie-woogie that gel-haired, leather-jacketed people made famous in the 1950s.

"It is a way to show that instead of shaking one's body feverishly, one can dance with technique and elegance," says Mantoux.

"While most French only dance "le rock" to rock music, the French trendy set make a point of swing dancing on any kind of tune -- the more random, the better. Dance/DJ, techno, pop -- any tune is an opportunity to show that one can dance "le rock" on the most unexpected genre."

T: Boogie is so interesting! I like how their upper bodies don't even move! Boogie is a little less feminine than Lindy, which has the cute girly thing. But I just love it! We have become friends with Champions Thorbjorn and Flora - I love them! We met them at Euro Dance Festival. Max knew them already of course, but I met them when Benji and I were there doing a show and we shared a room with them and so I got to know them. They are really really AWESOME people. I follow Boogie now because of them.

M: So I danced and competed for many years and then, when I was 12, my parents asked you are growing older, what do you want to do? And I said I want to dance.

So they gave me lessons in other forms of dance, solo forms like modern and ballet, which I wasn't used to. And I liked it. It felt different for me, but easy in a certain way. I could feel that I seemed to have a natural talent for dance.

So I took lessons for several years, very expensive lessons and my parents were paying for this. There was a school, a very good conservatory for dance, very, very hard to be accepted to this school. I auditioned but I didn't make it in. They accept a total of SEVEN new students, four girls and only three guys, from a huge, huge field of applicants - several hundred of the best dancers in France and coming from other countries also because this school is revered throughout Europe. I auditioned a second time and I WAS ACCEPTED! One of only three boys accepted!

So I studied there at the Conservatory for four years.

Every year they give a prize - the most coveted, prestigious prize for the best musician in France, and the best dancer in France. I got this prize! I couldn't believe it, I thought at first it was a joke, I couldn't believe it.

T: I still can't believe it! I've seen videos and they're amazing, he's amazing.

M: I remember I worked so hard for these years. It was so hard. I was crying every day, and criticizing myself. When you train for ballet it is brutal, so hard on your body and your mind. Psychologically it is so hard. Physically and mentally it was so hard. Hard teachers, very demanding and serious. They don't say hi, they don't try to make it comfortable for you, they demand everything.

T: He tells a story where every day the teacher would open the door and before the teacher would even be in the room they'd be saying "And 5, 6, 7, 8..." No "hi guys" no "how are you" nothing like that. I can't even imagine.

M: No friendliness. No play time. It is serious work, all day, for hours, every day. There is no "coddling" or making the students feel good. It's not like in America. They are extremely demanding and expect you to work, to train at your hardest. I learned there lessons about dance, and many lessons about life, how to work, and think, in dance, and in life.

T: It's very different. I feel like it is hard for him, now, when we're teaching, and he wants to teach our students rigorously, like he learned. He's really good about it, he's friendly and jokes a lot. But it doesn't come easily to him because he cares about our students, he wants our students to improve. He's like "I want them to improve. I want to be strict with them but we need them to stay, we want to come back. So I have to go easy." It's frustrating for him.

We're good together because I can balance him. I mean, we're both honest teachers, we don't sugar coat. And we make it funny, we laugh, sometimes Max will say "That was HORRIBLE" and we make it funny. But we tell the truth. We are very serious about wanting our students to improve. Max has learned how to say "BIG CATASTROPHE" in every language.

M: And also I was always the joker in class, and I got in trouble for it all my life. I remember one time when I was 14 the teacher said to the class "Now! Sit down!" Like we were dogs. "Sit!" So I said "We are not your dogs!" She slapped me. Hard, across the face.

L: In America this is not allowed, a teacher will be fired for this.

M: In France it is different. She slapped me hard.

T: I can't imagine being a teacher with Max in my class. It's not that he's bad, he's just a clown, always the clown. Always mischievous. He needs the dunce cap in the corner. He's like that when we're teaching - I'm trying to be serious and he's over there making jokes. That's just him, always playing.

M: I feel like, in the community, sometimes it gets so serious, and I feel like people learn better when they're laughing. I feel that part of being a good teacher is giving a show, almost. My philosophy is that students learn better when they can laugh.

So then I finished Conservatory, and I was in a company, a dance company, and I was teaching. But so much teaching that I couldn't work on my own dancing. I wasn't taking care of myself, my own dancing, my own projects and passions.

I was earning 300 euros per month, teaching with the company. And I asked my Dad what am I doing? What am I going to do with my life?

And my Dad said "Do what you love. Follow your passion, and life will take care of you." He said, "Do something different and original. Something that hasn't ever been done before."

L: You have a good Dad.

T: His Dad is the reason we're together.

M: And I remember I was crying. And I said to my best friend, Virginie, "I don't know what to do with my life." And she said, "You are brilliant. Do what you love. Follow your dream. Life will reward you."

L: You have a good friend, too.

M: Yes, she is my best friend. And my dad, and my mother - both my parents are so supportive! And encourage me, always, to follow my passion.

L: What is their trade?

M: My Dad is a plumber, my mom works with seniors. I like my Dad's job a lot now, because we have this house to renovate and he is doing all the plumbing.

M: So I took their advice and created something from my passion, something new. I started a program teaching blind kids to dance. Contemporary dance. For two years I taught classes, I developed this project, teaching dance to blind children. I had 30 kids, ages 8 - 17. At the end of these two years they did a big show in Brasil! I am proud of this project.

And then, I am teaching with this company, and the company was trying to take over a dead dance school where they had social dancing, rock and roll, east coast swing. We were trying to extend the program, add new courses and classes. I wanted to find something new and exciting to teach, especially to kids.

So I was looking on youtube. Ten years ago there was no Facebook really, and no youtube, really, either, yet. But I found this video of west coast swing. Jordan and Tatiana, doing Pump It. And I saw this and I thought THAT'S CRAZY! What is that? That's the the first time I every saw west coast swing - Jordan and Tatiana doing Pump It on youtube. And I thought I want to do this! I want to teach people this!

So I decided to learn the routine, to teach them Pump It.

T: He learned Pump It off the video! So funny!

M: So I wanted to show them this. So my best friend - (she is my "Best Man" at our wedding!) - Virginie Massart - she was Tat, and I was Jordan, and we showed them this routine.

And then we found out this couple was coming to France, to Paris, for an event, they were teaching there. So we went there to take a workshop to learn about west coast swing. We showed them we had learned their routine - we couldn't speak a word of English, I didn't know a single word, neither did Olivier or Virginie, and Jordan and Tat didn't know any French. But we had no problems we could communicate through dance no problem.

At this time there was already a very small group in Lyon who were doing west coast swing. Only about 20 people. So when I began to teach, with Virginie, I saw the potential, I had a vision of what it could be.

So I said we're going to grow this together. Octopus style. You're going to teach there, and I will teach here, and another teacher over here. And then we will bring it together, that's how we'll do this.

So I started with those first 20 students, it was in April. By June we were 70 people coming regularly for west coast swing lessons and social. Fifty new wcs dancers in two months. By September we had 120 people, all hooked on west coast swing. By November we had more than 200 people.

And Olivier and Virginie and I, we said now we do an event together, bring the groups together and do a combined event, and we started West in Lyon. We had 200 people that first year.

This year we had 1,000 people at West in Lyon. In eight years we went from 200 to 1,000! 1,000 west coast swing dancers! I look at it and I think "We made this! We did this!"


I can't believe it, three years after I met Jordan and Tatiana I was teaching west coast swing with them. I said "When I saw you on youtube I never expected to meet you one day. Never." When I told this to Tatiana she started to cry.

And now I see them and we are friends! We teach together! I cannot believe it. Ten years ago I wasn't travelling much at all, and now, we see Jordan and Tatiana around the world, and we are travelling so much, it's crazy! So much has changed in ten years. Ten years ago I would never have expected to travel to America! And now we travel to America so much, to see family, and to teach.

L: So what will the next ten years hold for you? Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

M: I've thought about our son or our daughter - they will be so much a part of the west coast swing community, they will grow up in it. I think how my son will be known by everybody. And how a couple of years ago nobody knew me at all.

T: But your first time coming to the US, to compete in west coast swing in the US, and you take Top 5 in Classic! The first non-US dancers to ever take Top 5 at the US Open.

L: You put France on the map - you put France into the Open!

T: For me, in ten years, I want to get back to travelling to events that I WANT to travel to, instead of having to do events just for work. It's difficult, travelling all the time, having events be our job. I mean, we know we're lucky that this is our job. I can't even imagine sitting behind a desk all day and that being my job.

But you do lose some of the enjoyment of events when it's your work.

So within the next year or two, I'm going to be taking over my grandmother's accounting business. My grandmother has so many clients, and I know all her clients. They've been with her for 25 years, and they know me, they've watched me grow up. My mom worked for my grandmother, so until I was 7 or 8 I was in the office every day. They say, "I remember when you were a baby, and your grandma was bouncing you on her lap while doing taxes." They know I will be taking over the business.

And for me - I've always been one who loves the community. Dance, for me, it's my escape from real life. But sometimes I don't want to go dancing. So I want to have a life outside of the community, too. It's not a matter of leaving, it's just arranging our life so I can be in the community a little less often, so that the community does remain as my escape. It used to be like that for me - even when I was dancing every weekend I still had school, too. So I had a life in the community, and a life outside of the community, too. I was a total Hannah Montana person with two lives. The best of both worlds.

"Best of Both Worlds"
You get the limo out front
Hottest styles, every shoe, every color
Yea when your famous it can be kinda fun
It's really you but no one ever discovers
In some ways you're just like all your friends
But on stage you're a star
You get the best of both worlds
Chillin' out, take it slow
Then you rock out the show
Pictures and autographs
You get your face in all the magazines
The best part's that
You get to be who ever you wanna be
Who would of thought that a girl like me
Would double as a superstar?
Chillin' out, take it slow
Then you rock out the show
Without the shades and the hair
You can go anywhere
You get the best of both girls
Mix it all together
You've got the best of both worlds.

T: So if it works out I will be able to take care of the business from January to April. And then the rest of the year we will be able to travel to events that we want to be at. Maybe do one or two a month, just the events we love, where we want to be.

Cause as it is now, we travel so much, and we teach during the week. Max has given up two of his weekly classes - last year he was teaching three times a week, this year only one. And I will be starting with my grandmother this coming January. So it's happening, we're making the changes.

Max's 30th birthday is in two weeks! One week after our wedding! He said he wanted to get married in his 20's so we put the wedding to be before his birthday. We just made it! And I will be 24 at the end of the month. We're young! So it's hard for us to think about what these next ten years will look like. We just know we're so happy, and so excited.

L: How did you meet?

T: Max hired me for West in Lyon. Brennar and I went to teach in Paris in 2008, and there I met Virginie. After the weekend she went back to Lyon and told Max we have to hire Brennar and Torri. She said "Max you're going to love her. You will fall in love with her. She's your type of person."

So we went to West in Lyon and I loved it, it was super fun, the whole weekend. Max picked us up from the airport. I thought he was gay. His style - he had a man purse, he was all touchy-feely, and emotional. He was like my gay men friends. In other words, he's a French man. I didn't know about European men. I thought, "He's gotta be gay. He knows I have a boyfriend but he's all touchy but it's touchy like my gay friends, he's gotta be gay!"

By the end of the weekend he was saying "She's my American girlfriend" but in a joking way. He had a long-term girlfriend, and I had a boyfriend. So we became friends, but didn't see each other for a while. There was a connection there, we liked each other, so we were friends first. And when we first met I was young! I'm seven years younger than Max. So I was really too young for anything serious when we first met.

Then three years ago we saw each other three weekends in a row. First SwingDiego, then the French Open, and then Liberty, back to back.

So at SwingDiego we were so glad to see each other again, and we danced all night. And then we saw each other again the next weekend, at the French Open, and we danced all night, every night, and there was definitely something there. And I went home - we were both having problems in our relationships - and I went home and he went home and I talked to my mom, and he talked to his Dad and his Dad said "GO FOR IT!"

And then we saw each other the next weekend at Liberty.

That's when we started dating, at Liberty 2013. We were trying to keep everything quiet. (L: it wasn't quiet, it was pretty obvious to anyone paying attention) (T: "haha Yeah I know, it wasn't quiet. But we were trying to keep it quiet.")

The next year, 2014, we drew each other in the Johnvitational. By then we had been dating for exactly a year.

From Liberty 2014 Update #1

Torri and Maxime in the hall on their way in to dance, horsing around against the wall, cracking jokes. Maxime barely able to keep his eyes open, just flown in from France for a two-month stint in the States. Liberty through Desert City. Torri and Maxime get two whole months together!

How do these people make relationships work? Each in a different country every week of the year.

If they’re lucky to be hired at the same event they wave running past each other in the hall in between performing, competing, practicing, running workshops, giving privates, judging.

And all those eyes on them, so many eyes, everybody staring every little thing they do. Always gotta be “on,” charming, talking to strangers – no matter how tired, cranky, or ill they might be feeling.

How do they do relationships? Beats me.

Maxime’s suitcase was “lost” somewhere between Lyon and JFK. And then “found.” Having been broken-into and stuff stolen. Gifts for Torri. I’d be a raving lunatic. For them it’s just Life On Airplanes.

But seriously, the cuteness quotient of these two. Are they not the cutest couple in history?

They probably hate that word.

Which by the way, speaking of Maxime, have you seen this?!?

From the French Open, couple weeks ago.

L: What do you love about each other?

T: I feel like one of the things Max likes best about me is that I take care of him -- and I LOVE taking care of him! We were separated in May when I came home to take care of my wedding dress, and he texted "Babe, where is (some random) pair of shoes?" I love that! And I love that in my purse half of it is his stuff, I have his wallet, his phone, his keys! I love that! I love taking care of him! I've never felt like this before, in any relationship, where I just want to take care of him. I love being able to do it without being acknowledged for it, like it's just a given that I take care of him the way you take care of family. I love it.

L: So beautiful, you're like a sweet 80-year old married couple taking care of each other

T: I think I'll be a good mom because I like to take care of people.

L: You'll definitely be a great mom. And you will be a great dad, Max, I can see that. You'll be a great mom, Torri, because you HAVE a great mom. You both have great parents, so you have models, you know what it looks like to be a great parent.

T: I have great parents, and I have great grandmothers! A lot of them! Multiple grandmas, cause my Dad's parents were divorced so I have double grandparents on my Dad's side. And I still have a great-grandmother. And I'm very close with all my grandparents. I'm really, really close with my mom's mom - she made all of my costumes, my whole life. And now she's made my wedding dress!

L: Max, what do you want people to know about Torri that they may not know?

M: Everybody knows she's sweet. What they might not know is that she is not, ever, vindictive. Never vindictive. It is not in her. If we have an argument she will get mad, but she will not hold onto it. She will blow up, slam doors, and five minutes later she's like "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that." and it's over, completely. She doesn't have vindictiveness in her. I love that.

T: I'm firey, I get heated. And then I get over it. You push me, I slap you!

M: She's sensitive. That's her dark side. She's very sensitive.

T: I am. I'm very sensitive.

M: But the best part of our relationship is that it's easy. It feels easy. It just felt easy - and it felt right - from the very beginning. Like it was meant to be.

L: What would like people to know about Max?

T: I don't think people realize how hard the language difference is.

M: It is exhausting. Because I am a thoughtful person, I have many ideas, which need many words to be expressed. It is so hard to want to say something that I feel strongly about but I can't say it right because I don't have the words. It is so frustrating, very very frustrating and exhausting.

T: He's louder in France, because he has the vocabulary.

T: But most of all I think people don't realize that he can actually be quiet and serious. I feel like everyone sees him as the loud, funny, crazy guy. Crazy Max. He's so outgoing, everyone is like "How do you deal with THAT all day?" But he's actually not like that most of the time. He's quiet, calm, thoughtful, and relaxed. He has a sweet, calm, loving side. When I get stressed out he's always there to calm me. To comfort and calm me and take care of me. We take care of each other.

Most of all I love the end of the day. We work hard, and then at the end of the day we crawl into bed and he plays his Candy Crush and I play my Candy Crush, and we calm down from the day together. I love that time.

And no matter what -- the last thing we always say is "I love you. Goodnight."

Torri writes a blog!  She writes about each event they go to, a short summary of highlights, special moments, how it went at the events they work. She'll write about their wedding, so make sure to read all about it!  It's so exciting to follow their adventures in dance, and in their beautiful new life together!


Filed Under: Community, Liberty

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