Posted by: angelicang | Partner Dancing No Comments on World Hustle Champion, Raul Santiago, Busts a Move and the Perceived Idea of This Playful Dance!
World Hustle Champion, Raul Santiago, Busts a Move and the Perceived Idea of This Playful Dance!
What do you envision when you think of Hustle?
Many people think of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, but that’s actually far from it.
The proper name for this dance style is Latin Hustle.
Here’s a great interview we had with world-renowned dancer/ instructor/ choreographer, Raul Santiago, sharing his passion for this dance style and enlightening us on what Hustle truly is.
Raul Santiago is the owner and founder of SoHo Dance (in SoHo, NY) and SoHo Dance LA – the largest dance studio in West Los Angeles. He’s been perfecting his craft for the past 25 years as a master Latin and Ballroom Dance instructor, choreographer, and competitive performer.
As a world-renowned dancer, Raul has won several sought-after titles throughout the years – the most recent being 2016 World Hustle Champion and 2016 International Hustle And Salsa Congress Top Teacher.
1. What do most people think Hustle is? And what is it really?
Most people think of Saturday Night Fever and goofy John Travolta moves from the seventies, but that image is way off. Hustle is a three count & 1,2,3 basic done to funk nightclub not disco.
And what is it really? It’s easier to see it than describe it. Watch the performance Yesenia and I just did at IHSC and you’ll see. But, warning, it’s gonna make you want to learn it. It’s the one dance that will impress your friends in 10 seconds or less and leave you wanting more.
*Did you watch the amazing video? Not to worry – at Groove Temple Live, Raul will cater to the level of the students 🙂
2. What makes you so passionate about this dance form?
You know, the body doesn’t lie. If there is hidden shame or fear about being seen this dance makes it easy to shed all that. I remember the first time I saw Hustle in NY. It was amazing to hear the dance music and see people doing partner dancing to music that I love. So that’s how I got into Hustle dancing.
3. What makes your teaching style stand out from the rest?
I’ve learned a great deal from my students over the past twenty five years of teaching. I’ve had students with a lot of drive who want to be pushed and others who would end up in a puddle of tears if I challenged them. I approach every student with the understanding that they have their own unique personality. I try to tap into their energy and try my best to teach in a way that best matches their vibe. Some students come to me without ever having stepped foot in a studio not to mention dancing with a man in front of a mirror. Others are seasoned experts. Every student teaches me something new about myself and I appreciate them for putting their trust in me. I consider it an honor that my students fulfill their desire to express themselves through dance. I truly enjoy teaching because it allows me to focus on what my students need and then to trust my inner wisdom to guide them.
4. How can students benefit from learning Hustle?
Hustle is a playful dance. I often have students who do other dances like Ballroom, Salsa or Swing who want to loosen up a little. Hustle music is modern. Whether it’s Latin or New York style, Hustle socials are very different than ballroom. Hustle attracts what I’ve heard students describe as the “Hip, fun crowd.” The great thing about it is that it resonates with a broad age group. Whether you are 18 or 80, Hustle music makes you feel connected to a youthful time. At lessons, workshops and socials, when the music starts, people want to jump up and dance. It makes me feel good knowing I helped them get there.
5. Is this something everyone can do?
Absolutely! If you can walk you can Hustle. Like all dances, there are simple basic movements which create the infrastructure of the dance which is necessary for partnered dancing. It’s like speaking a language. If you know it, you can dance it with anyone else who “speaks” it.
6. What would you like to share about yourself to inspire the public to learn from you and come to your dance studio?
Dance is my life. I was eighteen years old when I started dancing. I wasn’t a strong student academically. Friends encouraged me to give dance a try because they could see I was good at it. I had a lot of physical energy and dance became my passion. I love seeing students discover their passion for dance because dancing really heals so many ills. My favorite part of teaching is starting with a student who is maybe shy about looking at herself in the mirror or embarrassed to move her hips from side to side and then Bam! One day she’s moving freely, isolating muscles she never knew she had and really dancing. It is such a huge confidence builder. I love seeing my students laugh and play and feel good about themselves.