Teacher Profile – Jeff

You didn`t spot your turn. Jeff is disappointed in you.

Jeff is one of the founders of Azùcar! Latin Dance Company as well as one of its most active teachers. Jeff is currently teaching Intro to Salsa and Salsa: Novice classes 4 days a week and working to promote the school and think up new classes the rest of the time. He also occasionally sleeps but tries not to make it a habit. He also thinks he is Batman.

How long have you been involved in Latin dance?
I started dancing in Vancouver as a university student in 2004. I chose to dance salsa because when I was in elementary school, I saw a group of salsa dancers at an outdoor social event, and I was completely awestruck by how much fun they were having. This image stuck with me as I got older, and when opportunity came along, I jumped in.
8 years later, I have not been disappointed.

Why do you teach and how did you decide to become a teacher?
I am sure everyone teaches for similar reasons – a sense of gratification to see their students grow and develop, and to see that special “aha” moment when they transform from novices into hot stuff on the dance floor.
Personally, I am more focused on bringing variety into the Ottawa salsa scene. Ottawa has so many talented dancers and artists of every genre; it would be awesome to integrate their style and energy into the salsa community. Thinking about it makes me smile.
I’ve always wanted to teach, but I had lots of difficulty finding opportunities to do so in Ottawa. I’ve had a few opportunities teaching one-time workshops and private classes here and there, but never anything consistent. That is until Roy, the founder of Salsafanatics, offered me a teaching position; I was finally allowed to try my hand on teaching a full class (which, by the way, I am eternally grateful for) and haven’t looked back since.

What are you a stickler for, in your classes?
For those who have been in my classes, they would know that I have two pet peeves: timing and communication.
I have a background in music (as do most Asian kids; it’s required by conventional stereotype): 22 years in piano, 10 years in violin, and 9 years in percussion. So when I see someone not dancing on beat, it causes me physical pain. One thing I always tell my students: If you are not listening to the beat, you are not dancing!
Another thing that I am particular about is for guys to make their lead comfortable. I could go on forever on that topic, but I’ll just leave it at this: if you are not comfortable to dance with, who would dance with you?

What advice would you give to your students?
Personally, I had a relatively slow start as a social dancer because I was quite shy. When I finally worked up the courage to ask someone to dance only to be rejected, it pushed me further back from trying again. Luckily, I had a lady friend at the time who was patient enough to go dancing with me constantly, and encouraged me to continue dancing. Without her support, I am sure that I would not be where I am today.
Since then, I have met some wonderful people in the dance world, and have become a much better person and dancer because of it.
What I am trying to say is, salsa is a social dance, so it is important for all dancers, both guys and girls, to be social with one another. We Ottawa dancers are very fortunate to have such a friendly salsa scene supported by great schools and event organizers, so let’s keep that tradition going, and make sure that we all have a great time!
Oh, and guys, don’t put on too much cologne.

What do you do when you’re not dancing?
Off the dance floor, I am a bit of a gamer (much to the chagrin and loving support of my partner). I also enjoy cooking, photography, and using laser pointers around cats.
I also spend ridiculous amount of time planning teaching materials, and working on collaboration projects and special workshops, so I can bring the latest and coolest things to Ottawa dancers!

One other thing students should know about you?
As you can see, I am a very serious and no-nonsense individual.
Also, I am Batman.


One thought on “Teacher Profile – Jeff

  1. Pingback: Get to know your teachers – Send us your questions! | azucarottawa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s