Q: What made you interested in producing dance instruction videos?
A: Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to produce instructional dance videos. My friends wanted to be cowboys and astronauts, but not me. I wanted to make dance videos. Okay, so that’s not entirely true. Actually, that’s not true at all. It’s not something I ever imagined myself doing. What started as a business idea in college really turned into something much bigger over the years.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I always knew that to be an entrepreneur, I was going to need a ton of capital. That all changed with the internet when all of a sudden, the barrier to entry for a new business was practically zero. It was, and still is, the gold rush of our generation. All of a sudden, people were turning to the internet for information, and having a store-front online was as profitable as having something brick and mortar.
So when my buddy called me one night and told me he was searching for dance lessons online, and mentioned he could not find what he was looking for, the gears started to turn, and I never looked back.
Q: What kind of professional background do you have?
A: I started learnclubdance.com in college, and looking back, I had remarkably little experience. Not only did I have no idea how to use a camera or light a room, but I had no idea how to build a website, or how to design a cover. And most importantly, I also had no idea how to dance. Not unless I was drunk anyway. And you can’t be drunk everyday when you’re starting a new business.
But all of that worked in my favor. I was an outsider. I was able to think outside of the box, and I was able to think like a beginner. What would a beginner want out of a dance video? I kept asking myself that. And it was easy, because I was my own sample customer. I was basically building a product for myself. That’s why nothing like this had ever been created before, because professional dance instructors could not truly identify what it was like to be a beginner.
Q: How did you go about procuring instructors for the DVDs?
A: Step one was to find a good instructor who could relate to beginners, and who could translate their experience as a professional into dancing as a beginner. Too many instructors tell you to “just feel the beat,” but that actually doesn’t mean anything to a beginner. There was also the realization that most beginners, especially men, want to learn to dance to meet the opposite sex. Most dance instructors tend to avoid that aspect of dancing all together. Guys want to learn how to spin their date around the dance floor, how to grind with a cute girl, and how to dance in a club. They want to learn to dance socially rather than learning a hip hop routine.
So it was REALLY hard to find the perfect dance instructor. Not only was I looking for someone who was a great dancer, but I was looking for someone who had experience teaching beginners, and someone who really understood the “social dancing” aspect of it all.
So to answer your question, first I went to craigslist. And after the craigslist responses scared/entertained me, I ended up contacting all of the dance agencies in town, and organizing auditions through them. Bloc NYC provided me with the best options.
To my surprise, many of the professional dancers I auditioned were either poor social dancers, or they simply could not isolate and translate what made them good dancers into a context that beginners would get it.
It took months. It was frustrating. I didn’t want to settle. It was hard. And so it went until I met Brian Henninger, and Nicole Guidetti, who were just perfect. Out of hundreds of auditions, they were the only two dance instructors I met who just “got” it right away, and the only two who were able to relate so easily to beginners.
Q:. What are some of the things your DVD’s offer that other dance videos do not?
A: I realized that all of the instructional dance videos that were out there were produced by large studios in Hollywood and were basically missing the point. They were all teaching long and complicated routines. There were no DVDs dedicated to basic social dancing, the kind that my friend had been looking for, and there were no DVDs that taught you “separate steps.”
So I knew right away that my DVDs were going to teach you different moves that you can combine and use in any order you would like. And these seperate moves would teach you how to dance in clubs, weddings, and everyday social situations. At the time, there were no other DVDs that did that. And that is what separates our DVDs from the rest.
We teach you how to combine and use these moves in any social situation. We don’t waste time teaching you how to dance like a pro, because let’s face it, most people don’t want to learn how to dance like a pro. Instead, we focus exclusively on practical moves.
Q: What is the most common problem people have when first learning how to dance?
I think one of the most common problems across the board however is that people feel embarrassed, or foolish looking when first learning to dance. Dance makes people feel vulnerable at first, but this is easily mitigated by once the student can realize that no one is really paying attention to their dance moves, and that most people who are dancing focus on themselves (and probably feel just as awkward). So the most common problem is that people just don’t allow themselves to just “let go.” If they can get past that feeling of awkwardness, the actual mechanics of learning the dance will come much easier.
Another common problem is that most beginners “tense” their shoulders too much while dancing. It usually happens when you are nervous, or because your shoulder and neck muscles are not as fluid or loose. We actually have a free video on our blog that shows you a few exercises yo can do to loosen your neck and shoulder muscles. By lowering your shoulders and preventing them from tensing up, you’ll instantly make any move look better.
Q: What is your oddest work story?
As you can imagine, there are plenty.
I was holding an audition for male backup instructors, when a guy walked into the audition room. He couldn’t remember what it was for. He took his shirt off and started to dance. He was going to give me a lap dance when I cut him off. He thought it was an audition for male strippers. Funny thing is, he’s actually a doorman outside of a popular club. I see him out occasionally. We’ve never talked about it again.
Q: You have a video called Girls Night Out, What is the difference between regular night club dancing and dancing on a girls night out, are the moves different?
A: Great question. And it reminds me why else our videos are so unique. I realized that men and women dance differently. Women can use their hair. They can accentuate their hips. And besides dancing differently than men, a woman’s motivation for dancing is usually pretty different from a man’s. That’s why it didn’t make any sense to me when other DVDs taught both men and women how to dance in one disc, and that is why my DVD catalog is divided by gender.
When it comes to dancing in clubs for women, we have two DVDs for you to choose from. We have a DVD we call Sexy Moves For The Club, and a DVD we call Girls Night Out. GNO is different from SM in that Sexy Moves For The Club has a focus on flirty, sexy, and seductive moves while GNO teaches more moves with funk and more flair. These moves take up a little more room on the dance floor and they have more of a hip hop element to them. They’re great if you’re just showing off in front of your friends. Less great, if you are trying to use them on a cute guy. So if you are dancing with a guy, or if you just want to “blend in,” you are going to use more of the moves that we teach you in Sexy Moves For The Club.
Q: Your videos say that its users can be “the center of attention,” when dancing. If I find myself in a situation where I am forced to dance I don’t want any attention, do you have a video for that?
A: That’s a great question, especially because most of our customers want to be able to just “blend” in on the dance floor, especially at first. We place a huge emphasis on subtle, practical, and simple dance moves in all of our videos. So I would answer your question with a question: which dance style would you like to learn? If you’re being forced to dance in a wedding, then I recommend “Dance The Night Away – Partner Dancing 101,” which will teach you basic social dancing to do with a partner. If you want to learn simple, sexy moves that you can do in a small space like a crowded nightclub, then I recommend “Sexy Moves For The Club.” We also have DVDs in the salsa and hip hop genres.
Q: All the instructors on the videos are beautiful with perfect bodies. Don’t you have to have a certain body type to look good dancing?
A: First I would say that NOT all of the instructors on all dance videos all have perfect bodies, and that the “perfect” body is an illusion because no one has a perfect body. Second i would say that when you are looking at a working professional dancer you have to under stand that they are athletes, they are extremely physically active for hours at a time and are also most often eating decently healthy diets. This simply causes them to be in great physical shape.
But the idea that you have to have a certain body type to look good dancing is simply not true. I have several friends who are both working dancers, and also dance instructors that have very unique body types. Dance is also one of the best workouts you can ever get, so don’t be surprised if you also see some desirable changes in your physique occur naturally.
The most important “look” to have while dancing is to be confident, to smile, and to make eye contact with your dancing partner. Ultimately, it’s confidence and the willingness to have a good time that makes someone look like a good dancer on the dance floor.
Q: What do you think is the easiest dance to learn?
A: Is it cheating if we say that all of our dance steps are incredibly easy to learn? If you had to learn just one of our dance moves, I would say check out the Wrapping Turn. You can use this move in any social situation. By changing your hand position, you can use this move in weddings, as well as in a club. It’s a very simple spin that looks much harder than it really is. We actually have this step available for free on our blog for anyone curious about your videos.
If you are asking about dance in generally, ultimately, learning to dance can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some people have naturally good rhythm and ability to move to music, while others are much more comfortable learning a choreographed set of steps. So some students will find it easier to learn jazz, which has sharper, more defined steps, while others will find Hip Hop easier. For those students who want to skip all of that though, and who just want to learn to dance in clubs and in weddings and parties, they should check out our videos at LearnClubDance.com, because all of them are designed with the absolute beginner in mind.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)