“I sleep like… never. I dance until 2-3 AM then wake up for work at 7 AM. Sleep? Never heard of her!” Marie’s sleepless reality rings true for so many in the nocturnal world of social dance.
Marie “Cherybomb” Shtilkind’s fun, feisty name describes more than just her fiery personality. An old soul at just 24, Marie shows her appreciation for all things classic with her vintage style and love of art spanning the ages.
Marie was born and raised in San Diego, California and spent the last 12 years of her life in Orange County. Dancing since she was a child, her parents put her in dance because it kept her active and happy. First discovering social dance at ATOMIC in her teens, she was instantly hooked! After 7 years of dancing salsa, bachata and other styles, she’s now starting on the path to teaching. Stating, “There’s so much to learn and so much depth to these dances. I’ll always be a student, but I also want to be able to give back to my community and spread the love that I have for dance. So if my mentor thinks I have it in me to teach, then maybe I do after all.”
She continued, “I aspire to honor history with my dancing. Ultimately creating a place where dancers can feel a sense of community and connect with others. Dancing has given me so much love and joy in my life – it is my life. So I want to be able to give that same love and happiness back to the community that has formed me into the woman that I am today.” She passionately continued, “Dance has helped me find a passion and a dream. It doesn’t relate to my job, but it inspires me to look for a way to mesh work with what I love.” Another dream is to show more women that they can lead, and men to follow. She adores leading and loves everything about men’s styling. ”There are barriers to entry in a lot of ways – the scene can be very traditional,” she disenchantingly acknowledges. “Despite very actively and often leading in the scene, I haven’t been able to enter as a leader in certain competitions and auditions, which is absurd! It’s 2019, for crying out loud. If I can do everything that everyone else does, then I should be allowed to.” Marie is currently on a men’s salsa team, and is also a leader. “I’m eternally grateful to the teams directors for letting me do this. It’s been a dream come true to take such steps, especially after having been turned away so much before.”
Marie has trained in jazz, ballet, hula/Tahitian, bellydancing, lindy and even Persian dance. She’s interested to learn kuduro, Afro house, semba, urban kiz, tango, West Coast, rumba and waltz. She’s down for whatever and is hard pressed to pick a favorite. She does admit to not fully understand zouk, but might enjoy following it more if she did.
Marie dances six nights a week in some shape or form, including practice once a week, assisting classes twice per week, and she goes out social dancing 2-5 times per week. Since her loved ones don’t see her as much while she’s out dancing, Marie is working on making them a part of the scene too!
Her long time ex dances too. Marie recounts how dancing added an element of fun into their relationship; explaining that, “There’s a different kind of chemistry and connection that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s unlike anything outside of the dance world. Finding that with someone is priceless and connects you on an entirely different level. My former partner and I also lost our passion for dance together. We kind of plateaued and stopped looking for growth together. So when the relationship ended, finding dance and my love for it again healed me in a lot of ways.” While some dancers don’t like to mix their dating and dance life, most wind up meeting, dating and oftentimes marrying fellow dancers. On this, Marie expounded, “I’ve made romantic connections through dancing, which is much easier than ‘regular-people’ connections – which I don’t know how to do! However, unfortunately a lot of it can be based on physicality and a chemistry-based connection, which isn’t the ideal ingredient for a good relationship; but it’s a great starting point. It’s awesome to meet someone and connect on that level, then grow from there. My best romantic connections have started out dancing.”
She excitably states that another great benefit of dance is, “Man… dancing keeps you young. Do it no matter how old you are! I’ve been here since I was 17, and will be here until I’m dust and bones! The pros are the pure, unadulterated fun and stress relief and great cardio. The cons are that it can be exhausting and is easy to get sucked up in. So you have to remember to take a step back and live your life, as there’s more to life than dancing – which is hard to believe and even harder to remember. It’s easy to forget that you need self-care, peace and alone time. Dancing is self-care, but so is taking a break. Burnout is real, it sucks, and affects every part of life, so I try to remember to take breaks every once in a while.
Whenever she or any other patron take breaks from dancing, they know that they can always come back to ATOMIC and be welcomed like they never left. This is one of the reasons why Marie (and countless others) say ATOMIC feel like home. Marie elaborates, “It’s my rock in a lot of ways as I know it’s always going to be there. I’ve made a lot of new friends here and also hold dear the friends I made 7 years ago. The smiling faces in this awesome environment, I love it so much!”
She loves dance so much that even after injuring her tailbone, Marie only took one week off. Although she knows that she should’ve rested longer, she realized that she does nothing but dance because she was so bored without it. Stating, “It was the most miserable week of my life.”
Marie previously mentioned how dance helped her get through a major breakup by bringing passion, friendship, and happiness into her life. She proudly asserts that, “It made me feel strong, empowered, and beautiful in a way that goes beyond physical beauty. Nothing really makes me feel the way that dancing does. It was awesome finding that on my own again.” Marie’s passion for dance goes beyond her connections with others, italso runs deep in her pure love for the art form itself. Declaring unmistakably she proclaimed, “I LOVE ALL KINDS OF DANCE EVER! I love the timelessness of dance, the community, its origins. I love honoring the roots of a dance style; the fact that they most likely came about from struggle, pain, and a way to overcome is priceless. I love learning that and finding ways to feel and recreate it.”
- Marie is obsessed with kizomba & can’t get enough of it!
- She speaks fluent Russian.
- “I love boxing & painting intricate designs. Muay thai and jiu-jitsu were the loves of my life before dance took over every part of my brain!”
- Guilty pleasure: Her obsession with Afro-Cuban dance. “I think it’s the coolest thing in the whole entire world. I could watch videos of that and Dominican footwork for DAYS.
- Favorite quote: “Dance to express, not to impress.” Marie says, “It’s easy to see people watching you and want to turn it on and start showing off. But that’s when I stop being an artist and start being a show-off. I remind myself that the best thing I can show is myself feeling the music in the way I always would, dancing the way my soul wants to. That inspires people. Not fancy crap.”