Love watching Strictly Come Dancing? Ever wanted to ballroom dance with another guy? Well now you can! Teacher Mariusz Rafat Stankiewicz, aka Mr Ballroom, explains how.
I started teaching same-sex ballroom dance in London in 2009 when I joined Studio LaDanza, which was one of the most important hubs for LGBT and same-sex dancing in the UK. I wanted to obtain a professional qualification under the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), and I was lucky to meet and work with studio directors Heather Gladding and Hadass Armon, who guided me to my fellow qualifications. From the first class at the studio I realised that same-sex dancing was the missing part of ballroom world and I knew that this is what I wanted to do. It is all about two people; equality and gender doesn’t matter. It is fascinating to discover how dance evolves in people. I always see a dancer, their talent and the ways I can help to further develop them.
My career in dance started at age of eight in Poland where my parents took me into the local dance club. I enjoyed the taster class and decided to continue. In Poland I learnt all the principles and competed as an amateur dancer before moving on to teaching dancers of all levels and ages. My teacher was also coaching same-sex couples in Austria and she helped me set my approach to dancing and teaching from the start.
Our classes are made of two 45-minute sessions where we teach two different levels at the same time. We start at 7.30pm with Beginners and Intermediate levels and follow with Improvers and Advanced. We always ask pupils to change partners in the class so they can get know each other better and practice their skills to improve their dancing. We finish the evening with around 30 minutes of social dancing.
Anyone interested in trying out one of my classes are welcome to attend once and then decide whether they want to continue. We welcome total beginners too.
If you decide to return, you can expect to learn the principles of movement, hold and basic steps at the Beginner level. Later we introduce more technique and groups of steps, and finish with sophisticated routines and its detailed technical aspects at Advanced level.
Styles of modern ballroom dancing we learn include the slow waltz, ballroom tango, Viennese waltz, rhythm and slow foxtrot, quickstep, and Latin American styles such as samba, cha cha cha, rumba, pasodoble and jive.
Ballroom dancing is great way to spend time outside of work. It is a fantastic addition to your social life and one of the best methods of relaxation. It engages the whole body and mind. A Beginners class will be always very relaxed with plenty of repetition. And one of the key aspects of our classes is that there is always plenty of laughter in the groups.