Our next teacher for our “Teacher Features” is old/new instructor, Reza! Reza taught at ATOMIC for a few years, left for a few years to develop his career, but then realized he couldn’t stay away from dance or ATOMIC and so now he is back!
Reza left ATOMIC before I started working here, so I asked him to questions so that not only I could get to know him better, but all of you too!
Okay, Let’s start with the basics, how long have you been dancing? And at what point did you decide to transition into being a dance teacher?
I have been dancing for about 23 years now. I was dancing for seven years before I started teaching. I was really young back when I started teaching and at that point it was all I ever wanted to do. I couldn’t think of doing anything else.
Wow, 23 years is a long time. What motives and inspires you in your teaching to keep going for so long? And how do you translate that to your students?
I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t dance or teach. When my students progress, or get a concept and I see their eye light up, that’s the most rewarding and inspirational part of my job. I feel like it’s the first time I learned the move too, and that feeling gives me a weird euphoric rush. Watching movies with great choreography also tends to inspire me. I love telling stories and dancing, so seeing how others have done that is a great source of inspiration. If I can tell a story through dance, it is the ultimate accomplishment for me. I try to pass that on to my students.
What is something that you know now as a teacher that you wish you could go back in time and tell past you as a dancer?
I would tell myself not to get frustrated or give up. I would tell myself that I could do anything with enough practice. I gave up on a lot of things because I didn’t believe in my own abilities, and looking back now, I was so completely wrong that it’s shameful. I would hate for anyone else to go through that.
I think that’s some advice we could all use. Now another simple question, what is your favorite part about being a dance instructor?
A simple answer for a simple question, my favorite part is just watching my students learn; being a part of that process and experience.
What has been your most memorable moment as a dance instructor so far?
My most memorable moment as a dance instructor was a wedding couple that had come in for three months to learn a dance medley. The medley was one part Viennese Waltz, one part Country Two-Step, one part Hip-Hop, and completely awesome. They put so much effort when learning their dance that they looked absolutely perfect. Seeing their friends freak out though on the wedding video was the highlight for me.
I love wedding couples, that’s cool they did a mash-up of all of those! I’ll come to you for my wedding dance! Now my favorite question…do you have a most embarrassing moment from dance that you don’t mind sharing?
My most embarrassing moment in dance was when I was on a Lindy dance team when I was about 14, and the coaches were teaching us how to do the helicopter aerial. My partner and I had gotten pretty good at it and the coaches were so impressed that they wanted us to demonstrate. Before I knew it, my partner was running at me and jumping in the air. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready. I even screamed, “WAIT!” but it was too late. She fell flat on her back and I could hear the wind rush past her lips as the ground sent a shock wave through her lungs. I have never felt so terrible, in my life. She backed away from me with her eyes all wide and teary. I don’t think I will ever forget it. I swear I didn’t intend to drop her! I wasn’t ready! That was the first, and last time, I ever dropped a girl.
Okay…so maybe I won’t come to you for my wedding dance! Just kidding! I’m glad your partner was okay and that you, too have recovered. Okay, so now what would you say is your favorite style of dance to dance?
I don’t pick favorites. I can’t really. I feel like my mood and the music tell me to dance. I could love Swing today, but want to do nothing but Tango tomorrow.
Besides the physical, how has dancing affected you?
Dancing affects every aspect of my life. From my mood, to the way I conduct myself with other people. Dancing has so many etiquette details that you learn subconsciously, that I wish more people would do it. I definitely see those etiquette cues in my daily behavior, especially when it comes to dealing with the opposite gender. I don’t think a single day goes by where I don’t dance for at least a few minutes, and on the rare occasion where that does happen, it’s usually because something is wrong…like the flu.
What are your long-term goals? Whether in dance or in life.
I am a screenwriter so I hope to see a few more of my movies get made. I also want to keep teaching well into my golden years.
I didn’t know you were a screenwriter, that’s really cool! What else do most people not know about you?
Yea, most people don’t know that I’m a screenwriter/storyteller. A lot of people know that I surf, or dance, and even that I write commercials and marketing material. Not too many people know that I have a few movies in production, out and in postproduction. They are all small time Indie films, one of which has even won a few awards. One of these days I hope to do a cool movie about dance instructors…but if I tell you any more, I will have to kill you…just kidding.
There you have it folks! A glimpse into the life of new (sort of) ATOMIC instructor Reza! And in case you couldn’t tell from the interview, Reza dances and teaches all styles of dance, if there is something you’d like to learn, he’s the man to teach you!
Reza, with student, Patricia, at the ATOMIC Student Showcase 2014