March 2, 2021

Sonia with Anya Katsevman
Meet the Maker of Champions

Anya Katsevman has spent much of her career teaching.

She is a two time Salsa champion and has gained the reputation of coaching and mentoring rising talent in the Latin dance world!Most recently she has been seen on stage with the King of Mambo, Eddie Torres. Sought after for judging, choreographing, producing, staging, designing, and helping develop artists, professionals and dancers of all levels in all genres of the entertainment industry. Anya is also a recognized life coach, healer and mentor using reiki, spirituality and her method called godeeper a dance based wellness program to help people develop in their business and personal endeavours.

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Guest Info
Anya Katsevman is an acclaimed award-winning dancer and performer with over 20 titles in the International Latin circuit. Her many international performance credits include tours with well known shows such as Burn the Floor and Dancing With the Stars. She is a two-time World Champion as well as the San Francisco International Salsa Congress and New York Salsa Congress Champion. Anya is a passionate teacher who’s popular workshops often include philosophical musings as well as detailed and technical dance instruction. She is also a talented designer who’s dresses and costumes have been popular with other top dancers around the world. Anya lives in NYC where she teaches and coaches.
Show Notes
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Episode Attribution
Sonia Kyriacou. (Host). (2021, March 5). Sonia with Anya Katsevman on Maker of Champions. [Audio podcast episode]. In Choreograph Your Life with Sonia Kyriacou. Parcast.


Voiceover 0:05
Welcome to the choreograph your life podcast where we dig deep into the journey of people’s pursuit of their passion for dance. Join us as our host and guests discuss their dance journeys, the business of dance obstacles they face, and even lessons learned along the way. Now, here’s your host, Sonia Kyriacou.

SK 0:29
Today’s guest is a two time world champion dancer, a choreographer and a very sought after coach. And as well, she’s my friend, please welcome Anya Katsevman.

AK 0:42
Thank you for having me, friend.

SK 0:45
My pleasure friend! So we are, I’m so excited because I’ve been wanting to talk to you for the podcast for a while now. So I’m happy we got to connect and for all the listeners out there, Anya lives in New York. And so I guess I’m gonna ask you, you know, what is the vibe right now for, for dancers in New York, like we’ve taken a big hit, and there’s no dancing or shows or, you know, this type of thing. What’s it like right now, normally in New York is a bustling mecca of arts of all types of arts and especially dancing. Tell us a little bit what the atmosphere is like right now.

AK 1:23
It’s very difficult to gauge because I think everyone has sort of found their own pods. And they, they stick to their pods. So I think it affected obviously, everybody, you know, in the first year that we experienced it, and then slowly, people started to find what they resonate with most and try to find that sense of how they can have it right now. So naturally, Broadway is closed, and all the big schools are still closed, they’re doing things virtually. So that overall, instinctive, subconscious inspiration of the hustle and bustle that we have that comes from the biggest establishment. So I think, for a lot of artists, they’re just actually not in New York, right? Because they, they lived here, because they had jobs in these places that closed. So right now, they went back to wherever their hometown is, where maybe where their parents are, or somewhere where it’s easier to live because their job doesn’t exist right now. So that mixed together with the schools being closed, we’re not really allowed to socialize or have, you know, a large capacity of people, Salsa, especially, you know, the social aspect of it is missing, all the classes are primarily happening online. So even though we’re allowed to teach in person with limited capacity, I find that space is so hard to rent, like, it’s expensive, that with the limited capacity, you’re not really making money, so some people are doing it. But for the most part, world’s still teaching online, at least the people that had the big schools, I haven’t seen them attempt to reopen. They’re, they’re doing it online. Whereas you know, like ballroom dancers or people that are used to the one on one, they continue to take their classes in person like today, I went to a ballroom dance workshop with limited capacity in a huge space, but in person. So it’s like you’re, you’re finding your way to do what you can there, there is a prominent Salsa dancer that moved from Italy to New York, he opened up a school, and his school is operational in Manhattan, in person and he’s doing great, because, you know, that’s for all the Salseros that are hungry. That’s the one place that’s alive and in person right now. So a lot of the professional dancers are dancing there and on his team, and and I think that’s really awesome, because we have all of these dancers that were never under one roof, and now they’re under one roof. So it’s kind of cool. So I think some of the bigger schools that that were able to maintain their rent have reopened, but the ones that would rent space from someone or their overhead was too high, they either closed and are still closed, or they may have even closed indefinitely. So it’s it’s kind of like, whatever your situation was pre COVID that’s, that’s kind of what’s dictating what your situation is like, now. I’m self employed. I lost a lot of clients that used to work with me in person because they still don’t feel safe in that way. But I’ve also gained a lot of clients that, you know, had their social dancing, but now they can so they hire me to dance with them one on one. And I and I started to do private, sorry group classes online, which allowed stude nts that I would normally visit in their respective countries to work with me throughout the year…so I don’t get to visit my favorite city of Montreal. But I’m still in touch with a lot of the dancers from there because they’re in my group classes. So that part’s really nice.

SK 5:13
So do you think that based on what you just said, Do you think that social dancers suddenly became studious students, and the ones that were actually studio students decided, you know what? Like, I see it from what I’m hearing is, if you’re learning online is because you’re really into it, right? You really love dance, and you really love what it does for you. But if you were dancing just for the social aspect, you’ve stopped. Is that kind of what’s happened to the students?

AK 5:46
Well no I think… I think every single person through COVID was able to identify why they dance. So even though we have this big umbrella of social dancers, if you were a social dancer before, and maybe doing it because you love you thought you loved the social aspect of it. Maybe you’re the one that started to feel, oh, I liked it, actually. Because it forced me to move my body every day. How do I find that now, maybe some people weren’t into taking classes. And now that’s their way to move their bodies, right. Whereas the ones that really did it just to socialize, just to hang out. I think they’re actually organizing, like underground socials. And meeting up in each other’s houses, and still getting together in some way. A lot of dancers from New York are currently residing in Florida, because they get to have that access in Florida. So I think the ones that I think social dance united everybody, but for different reasons. And I think now, people were able to identify what their personal reason was, and they’re finding it one way or another. So it’s nice that our classrooms are more full, because people were social dancing, not for the social aspect. They just didn’t know it, right. And now they’re like, Oh, I actually like learning, or I just like moving my body. Right. So I think that has become clearer for the Salsa consumer.

SK 7:31
Interesting. I found that the studios and the people that I’ve spoken to here locally, in Montreal, they’ve had the opposite effect, where students have decided, you know, what, it doesn’t feel the same online. I don’t like the feeling of just watching a screen and trying to decipher the information. And I don’t have the physical contact with anyone. And so they just opted out. Like I know, for my studio, there’s a lot of students that just said, No, I’m gonna wait till till I’m allowed to come in person again. So I found that the behavior was different, depending on you know, like you said, the why that people were dancing.

AK 8:17
For sure, I find that that’s happening for me, even in my classes. So I have some people that are learning because they’re, they value the information. And then I have some people that prefer to do class only if it’s Zoom, because then they are seen as well, because I don’t like using Zoom for my classes. The music lag really bothers me. But I have some students that don’t like the streaming, you only see me part because they also want me to see them. So like I said, people are really just identifying what it is that’s important for them and not feeling ashamed about it. So I quite like that I liked the idea that we’re coming into this place where we can say I dance because x and I like it because people pay attention to me. And that’s important for me, right? Like I like that it’s empowering in a way.

SK 9:16
That’s interesting.

Yeah, I believe like, a huge shift has happened in people’s, I guess awareness of you know, why they dance and what direction they want to take their dancing in? What would you say is the largest shift? besides the obvious right? In the in the Latin dance community, specifically the Salsa world? What do you if you were to say one word, what do you think has changed the most?

AK 9:45
Well, I think it’s what you narrowed down right that that people are really looking for the social aspect of it and and are waiting to have that part. And so it must be very hard for them. It’s hard for me specifically to answer that question, because I find what I do is very specific. So I’m not sure I can really gauge the Salsa world, right? I, I’ve always been an educator more than an entertainer. So that’s, that’s still something that I’m providing. And so for me, I don’t feel the other side of it, because I was never really as involved in the other side of it. Naturally, I miss the events, and performing live and interacting with people from other communities. But as far as my day to day work, for me, personally, it hasn’t changed much, besides the fact that now it’s out of my apartment, right, as opposed to in a studio. But you know, the lack of traveling is definitely different. But I, I don’t have a good barometer for the community as a whole. Because I feel that I’m part of this niche aspect of it only.

SK 11:08
That’s interesting point.

So based on what you do, specifically Anya, and knowing now that we were coming out of like, a pandemic, what are your personal goals for for this year and for the near future?

AK 11:24
You know, that’s a wonderful question. Thank you for asking me that, because I haven’t really thought about it pandemic. I don’t know, pandemic put me in this place of not allowing myself to have goals. Because the goals that I that I projected for myself feel unrealistic right now, because of the pandemic. And so I feel I’ve been trying to survive rather than thrive. And so I haven’t put myself in that headspace, but I am, I’m currently creating an online community. So one of the things that I would like to capitalize on in a good way is now that learning has been normalized online, I would like to continue to provide an online platform to unite the community because I really enjoy the fact that I have someone from Japan and from Canada, and from Mexico and from Peru simultaneously in my class, I think we can really learn a lot from being united. And so one of the things I’m building is an online platform where I can build a subscription, where you have access to, you know, certain things like my classes, and the interviews and videos, but but I would, I want to give people a coaching sense without it having to be a private lesson fee. So the community that I want to build would be like a, like an education tool, where we can discuss performances and talk about why somebody won, and why someone else didn’t win and why this dancer is very popular right now and what’s effective about them and bring in examples of other performances and how when we’re learning this in Salsa class, here’s what it also looks like, in the gym, or on Broadway or on The Voice, you know, so just just to give people when I when I teach dance, I always focus on the athlete and the artist and the human. So I want to give dancers that continuous access, where they can actually discuss it amongst themselves, as well as seeing it from the perspective of a professional. So that’s one of my goals is I want to build out this community membership, where they have access to classes, but also this sort of point of view that is shared and discussed and open. Because I think we learn a lot from one another. So this idea of continuing to be united, it’s really interesting for me,

SK 14:09
I like that I like the idea of having dancers openly discuss their points of view or their their preferences with each other. You know, and and it being okay, you know, because, yeah, because you’ve seen that kind of go the wrong direction sometimes where somebody says, I don’t like that style, or I think that’s ugly…

AK 14:31
For sure. And yeah, and then it creates a lot of shame, and then it drives the style to be unanimously looking like one person right and that that for me is wrong when it comes to a creative endeavor of any Well, that’s just wrong period. Right. But especially with a creative endeavor, so So I am very passionate, you know, especially as someone that’s not Latino dancing Salsa. I’m very passionate to opening minds, right and creating diversity, and mixing cultures and, and mixing things. And you’re right, it’s not easy, because sometimes you have to draw examples from, you know, actual humans that are out there. And so I don’t feel comfortable doing this publicly, I would never post an example, I just finished a group class, it was called the Art of Elegant Salsa. And I was trying to communicate to the students that you could maintain a beautiful frame and a beautiful posture and still have rhythm, right. So like, long aesthetic doesn’t mean stiff. And body movement doesn’t mean out of control. So it’s trying to bridge that gap. And I found this beautiful video of two dancers dancing side by side, in a body movement class, and one of them was doing a great job keeping the top line controlled, so that you could see the rhythm just pouring out of him, right, whereas the dancer beside him was moving everything. And so because the top line was also active, as active as the rib cage, and the hips and everything else, the movement was actually getting lost, right. And it was a wonderful for me to to bring that example, that visual to my students and say, Here are two professionals and you have this visual, you can make up your own mind. But I would never do that, let’s say on my Instagram, because the dancers in the video are famous. And that could easily be misconstrued as a bias or a dislike, right? It could be taken out of context. So I want to be able to continue having those conversations, but in a place that is safe.

SK 16:50
Do you feel that sometimes dancers when they reach a certain level of fame, or popularity or status, stop being open to criticism, stop learning or sharing and they just kind of feel like, well, this is who I am? This is how I dance? You know, like it or not? Do you feel that that happens a lot?

AK 17:12
You know, I actually, I see your question as two separate things. I think when a person is not open to criticism, they will never be open to criticism, they will attempt an activity just to prove to themselves that they’re brilliant at something, and they will continue just doing it in a way that helps them feel that, right. And if a person is open to criticism, I think they will always be so I think it’s more of a personality thing. I do however, think when you’re seasoned in your career, you do identify your likes and dislikes, and you do identify what works and what doesn’t work for you. So it might actually be better for you to take in less criticism when you are a seasoned professional. However, to your point, though, of what I think you were trying to ask about, I do find a lot of complacency as well in professionals. So I do see a decline in progress. When someone is a professional, you do get comfortable with what you’re good at, you kind of stay within those parameters, you’re not pushing beyond your comfort zone anymore. And you sort of just like take the gigs you’re right for, right? Which again, when you’re a seasoned professional, you know, like if you’re Barbara Streisand, you’re not necessarily gonna sing a pop song because you know that that’s you don’t need to, you don’t want to it’s not your thing, but you know, you’re gonna keep killing it with the ballads. And that’s okay, right. But also, if you’re Barbara Streisand, you should practice a pop song every once in a while just to push your range, right? You don’t have to release it. It doesn’t have to be public. But it is, you know, I teach a lot of professionals so I see this with my students, I get them to certain level, they start being famous and sought after and they get work. And once they start to get work, they’re not really pushing to learn something new anymore. But but also myself as a senior professional, I can tell you that, you know, I there are a lot of classes I don’t take just because that’s the style I don’t want to do. So I’ll throw myself into the classes every once in a while to push my body and to to make sure that I can still kill it. But I’m not going to pretend that I like it. Right because I know what looks good on my body. So you know, for example, as in the Salsa community, you’re, you’re it’s pretty unlikely that you will ever see me throw in hip hop into my routine, right? It’s not really because I can’t I’ll go take a hip hop class every once in a while to push my body. But I don’t like the way the style looks on me. So I’m not going to put in my show.

SK 20:00
How do you feel as a coach that’s coached a dancer. And you have seen them grow, like you mentioned, you’ve seen them go from, you know, just starting or fairly young in their career. And then, like you said, they start getting work, they start getting booked, there’s a certain level of fame. Do you feel inclined to still offer advice to them? Or oversee their progress? Whether it’s solicited or not? Or do you kind of say to yourself as a coach? Well, you know, for as long as they’re asking, I will answer I will offer my my my knowledge. But if they’re not asking, I’m, that’s fine. Like, you’ll stop there.

AK 20:44
Well, here’s what I learned and I actually had to learn this, I wasn’t always like this. I learned No, and this is very much my personality. And probably one of the reasons I am an effective coach, but I’m very good at looking at any person and any product and seeing everything that’s right about it and everything that’s wrong about it. That’s, you know, it just goes hand in hand with who I am. And it’s very easy for me to say like, hey, you’re really good at this. And here’s what you need to work on if you want to get better. But I realized that when it’s unsolicited, the only person that benefits is me, right?

SK 21:33
Why do you say that? Why does it benefit you?

AK 21:35
Because if a dancer is not ready to improve and isn’t interested in hearing it, it’s not going to help them doesn’t matter how true it is. So if I’m taking the liberty to say it, I’m really just doing it to prove to myself that I see it. Right. So if I’m going to make my work really about benefiting someone else, and helping someone else, it is imperative that I wait to be asked. Because if if I am asked, that is an undertone of permission, right? And that permission to speak means the person is ready to receive what I have to say. But if they didn’t ask, it’s very unlikely they’ll receive it as something constructive. And so like I said, that just boosts my ego shows me that I’m capable and competent, but it doesn’t actually help the person. So I used to feel like I should say it because it’s true, and it will help them I used to feel like I should say it because I care. But I learned that that’s true. But the other thing is also true. And so now I have a ton of professionals that I trained from scratch. And if they don’t ask me, it doesn’t matter how much I see it today, how burning it is keep my mouth shut. But but I do because it’s not my place unless they ask, which is also why I think money is a really incredible tool that we have in our society. Because it really truly allows you to value what is given and what is received. And so I’ve also learned to not offer any of my services, unless a fee is being rendered.

SK 23:31
There’s an exchange of, of currency, because yeah, and this is something that I feel has happened, maybe maybe less now. But in the local scene here in Montreal, you know? Let’s say, constructive criticism is not really what I would call it, it would be more like, oh, gosh, what word do I want to put on it? It seems to come from the students more than it actually comes from the dancers or teachers example a student will walk around making judgments or critiques they’ll say like, oh, that school is better because of this reason, or that teacher is better because of that reason, or, or if you want to learn that go there. And if you want to learn that go there. And so it tends to be like it for whatever reason, that seems to hold this huge value and wait, because it’s coming from their perspective. And it may or may not be true. It may or may not be what is actually out there. But I find that students don’t really seek advice from they don’t really take the time to see for themselves. It just kind of listened to their friend and that’s it. They make a conclusion. How do you feel about that? Like how should a consumer of this go about finding you know what they’re looking for it should they just experiment and go from studio to studio teacher to teacher and take a trial class? Should they base themselves on reviews? Like, how do you see that?

AK 25:09
Well, I mean, I think what you’re talking about is, you know, something we experience in all walks of life, right, we’re susceptible to peer pressure, we’re susceptible to just whoever has the strongest opinion in the room being right. And we’re not very good at seeing for ourselves, we’re, as a society, I think we’re not very good at making up our own mind being okay with disagreeing with someone having our own perspective. But I do feel that that’s the healthiest way and you know, if these students would walk around and say, I like it more, because, right, it would leave room for other people to make up their own mind. And to also feel like they reserve the right to like it for whatever reason is important to them, which is how we would have a social dancers that knew why their social dancing, right, but we didn’t, we have social dancers that dance for all kinds of reasons. And all they said is I like social dancing, right? It’s all the same perpetual issue. So specifically for a dancer, that’s that wants to develop, I do believe that there needs to be consistency. So I do believe you should find maybe one coach that you trust, that gets to know you very well, that can help you on all levels. But I do believe in diversity. And I do believe in getting lots of different influences, to help you determine what your whole will be. So if I’m a social dancer, I would have maybe my one school that I frequent the most, but I would take workshops everywhere, and I would try things out. Because if one space satisfies me, because it’s close to home, and the times are convenient, and I like the people that go there, that’s fantastic. And it’s important. But I could also make my way a little bit further and see what the flavor of the month is over there. Because it will enhance me in a different way. You know, like I coach, a lot of dancers not exclusively, but as their main coach. And one of the biggest rules that I have, is that they have to take lessons with other people. Right, because that just relieves the pressure off of me a lot. And it’ll, it allows the students to feel that they’re in control, they’re making their choices, which also forces them to take responsibility, right? Because the other reason that we do this as people is because that’s a really nice way to not take responsibility for own stuff, right. But if you’re going everywhere, and you’re getting information from everywhere, then you’re dancing is yours, the good and the bad, right. But when you’re very, like exclusive to this one place and this one person, then it’s also kind of really easy to say, Well, I dance like this, because of so and so. And I try to avoid that with with all dancers and with all things really, because it’s important to take responsibility. So I and I love it when my students take lessons from other people because it it brings a new perspective to the way I do my job with them then, and you know, it helps, it helps a lot of people are professionals, a lot of people are good. We should be united, we should be exchanging information. We should, we should. And it’s, you know, it’s a beautiful thing. So it would be nice if the students would say, you know, I had a great time here, because, and I had a great time here because and let’s just all have a great time, because that’s what we’re offering. We’re offering you value and a great time, and then you just pick and choose

SK 29:08
For a great time call 1 800 SALSA Yes, you’re right. And it does, it does. I think that if we were to paint a beautiful picture, you know, everyone would get along, everyone would share everyone would have, you know, no issues with any of this stuff. And everybody feel very secure in their own skin so that they wouldn’t get, you know, how would you say judgmental or fearful? You know, but I think if exactly and and and there is that fine balance I find sometimes between the art and the in the business, you know, how do you balance both? If you were to talk to a dancer that’s deciding now you know, they’ve reviewed their life goals because of COVID and they’re saying, I want to choose dance as my career. I want to be a teacher of performing competitor, eventually, I want to be on a judging panel, I want to really dedicate myself fully to this. And I don’t want to make the mistakes that you know others have made in the past. Like, what advice? Would you give a dancer that’s starting now? How should they lay the lay out the terrain for themselves? Like, what should they do? What is your opinion on that?

AK 30:22
Um, so like I said, it’s really important that anyone that wants to succeed in dance, take care of the physical, the artistic and the human components of themselves. So you have to train the body physically, athletically mechanically, you need to study technique that has something to do with your anatomy, and structure and efficiency, you have to also cultivate the artist in you. So you have to do things that are creative, you have to do things that are out of the box out of the ordinary beyond, let’s say a class within the genre. So anyone that wants to be a pro should first make sure that they are fundamentally solid. So when you’re taking care of the athlete, you’re taking care of the athletes, you’re feeding them, right, you’re not ignoring them, you’re building them, you also have to take care of the human right, you have to make sure that you’re on a human level, not developing those elements that would make you insecure, not developing those things that make you judgmental and competitive and have a scarcity mindset, right. So if you’re wholeheartedly approaching this as a whole person, right, the creative side of you, the physical side of you, the intellectual side of you, then the strategic steps are, identify what part of it makes you the happiest, right? Why are you doing this? What is your trajectory? You shouldn’t, you know, I don’t really believe in setting career pinpointed goals, because I think that prevents us from allowing bigger things to come in. Right? Of course, it’s okay to want to be a world champion. Of course, it’s okay to dream big, right? You could say, I want to achieve these things. But I think we should all be open to the career unfolding in a way that serves us best, which we may not know at the moment. And for that, you have to just be ready for it. Right? So if you want to be on TV, make sure you’re ready for it when the opportunity comes, right. If you want to be a teacher, make sure you’re ready for it when the opportunity comes. But you yourself should be seeking progress. Right? You should be seeking wholeness, you should be seeking acquisition of things that give you longevity that give you value. Right? What is your value? So I think it’s important to identify what part of it you really love? And what part of it can you give back? Right. So I, for example, I love being on stage. I love the attention. I love performing I love that electricity. But I know that my primary value is to educate to teach to coach, right. That’s, that’s my primary value. So that’s the part of myself I share and give back with. And I indulge in the performer in me, right, which means I will charge top dollar…

You can charge top dollar for everything. But you know, if I’m aware that this brings my soul peace, I can make decisions accordingly. Right? If I’m aware that this is where I have value, I can make decisions accordingly. I learned what to say yes. Do I learn what to say no to, though. So all of that streamlines from centering with, what do I get out of this? What can I bring into this? And making sure that I look at every opportunity from those two perspectives. And I want to keep this vague because I think a lot of artists make the mistake of copying other people’s careers or pathways of copying trends, right? They, they disconnect from what it is they want to do. And they just do the thing that they think is making this person successful, right? So it’s really important that you find your own style. It’s really important that you find a team of people to help you develop that style. It’s really important that you don’t cheap out on the time or the resources that it takes to develop yourself, right. So be prepared to spend the time be prepared to spend the money. Be prepared to find the people that can help you do the things you want to do. Right just be prepared for that. It’s it’s It’s an important part. But most importantly, you have to identify the things that you want, right? So like I, for example, completely copied my brother’s career, right, he was a competitive dancer, I became a competitive dancer, he wanted to be a world champion, I became a world champion, he went on to be a great teacher, I went on to be a great teacher, he went on to be a judge, I went on to be a judge, right. And, and, and I felt fortunate to have that example in front of me for many years is like, okay, these are the stepping stones. Dancing is one of those things that you don’t really know what the ladder looks like, right? You’re not climbing a corporate ladder, you just sort of in the abyss. And so for a long time, I felt very fortunate that I had him to show me what the track can be. But, you know, here I am, at this point in my life, and I’m thinking, well, if he hasn’t paved that way, what would I actually have done with my career? You know, because right now, he has interests that I can very clearly see for myself or not my interests, right. You know, he, whatever is interesting for him, he has a school, he runs a competition. He’s doing those things. And, and for me, I, I want, I want to be on TV. I want to produce a Broadway show. And now I find myself wanting all of these things he never wanted. So I never saw him get it. So now I don’t know how to get the things that I want. Right. And I’m just for the first time at the age of 36, finding out the things that I actually want to do. And thinking about all of the years that I spent not doing them.

SK 36:53
That’s very interesting. And when did you at what point in time, did you realize that this was kind of like this influence? Was it? Were you aware the whole time that he was influencing you? Or did it just kind of rub off? And then suddenly, you woke up one day and said, Wait a second, maybe I don’t want the things that he’s done. Maybe I want something different. How when How did you realize?

AK 37:17
I think I realized it, because I didn’t know what to do next. I did all of the things I thought I was supposed to and they weren’t enough. So there was a void, there was a void. Yeah. Yeah, they aren’t enough. I’m super grateful for everything I have accomplished. I’m super grateful that I was chosen for the myriad plethora of like, amazing opportunities and titles and, you know, kind things, but I am not fully fulfilled. And, and I think it had a lot to do with, you know, the whole fear of being an artist. And and maybe that’s another message that I could share is, you know, it’s not that scary to be an artist, that that fear is more perpetuated by society and maybe our parents that want us to have a certain sense of security and stability that they are familiar with. But the reality is, the universe is very abundant. And it’s prepared to give you everything you want. And there’s enough for everyone to go around. There’s enough students for all of the schools, there’s and that the sooner we identify our specific, unique contribution, the sooner we attract the people that are looking for that, right. So. So I feel foolish that I wasn’t centered in my own way. But also grateful because I have accomplished a lot of things that I do want. And I’m not sure I would have known that I wanted them if it hadn’t been for that example. Right. So I’m not even sure I would have been a dancer if she wasn’t a dancer, but I know I love it. So it’s it’s a hard thing to say I can’t say that it was all bad, right? Like these parts of it were good as well. And I’m grateful for them. But but that void Yeah, you just start feeling that void and, and, you know, I feel like I’ve reached a ceiling that I can no longer get past. So I know that there has to be another direction.

SK 39:39
I like what you said about it’s not so scary to be an artist. It’s not you know,

Anya Katsevman 39:46
It’s it’s a it’s amazing how many things we take on based on popular opinion, which are actually not true. You know, I can’t tell you how much of my life I live under the impression that I’m a starving artist, it was literally just an impression. It was just the way I would maybe present myself or feel on the inside, but none of it was actually real or true. And it wasn’t until I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, who happens to be a lawyer. And she happened to tell me how much money she makes. And I realized, wait a second, I make more money than you and you’re a lawyer.

SK 40:30
Wow, that’s awesome.

AK 40:33
And that’s not you know, that’s not to mention how many artists are out there that are, you know, like, millionaires and pulling six figures. And, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s really incredible how we take on so many things that are not actually ours.

SK 40:51
I agree with this. And that’s something that I wanted to actually dedicate an entire episode to, which is, you know, the, there’s always been the saying, when I was investing my life into into dance, that they would say, well, when are you going to get a real job? Right? Yeah. And when are you getting the real job? Like, how long are you going to play around for? And so I decided that I would start saying, Well, I have an unreal job. You know, like, I have an unreal job, Because? Because I do have one, and and and that’s how I live!

AK 41:29
Yeah, my mom to this day would say things like, I wish you all of these things. I wish you all of these things. And I just have to turn on, say, you’re wishing me things I already have. Right? But why is it so hard for you to accept that I have them, because they didn’t come at me in the way you think is normal, or in a way that you know, that you’re familiar with, right. And that’s the realities is, you know, this sense of fake protection really comes from what makes other people comfortable. And it’s important that we don’t take that on.

SK 42:09
And I also think that one thing that’s changed maybe that it may not be so obvious to all of us is, I believe there was a time that choosing to be an artist, whether it was a dancer, an actor, you know, any of the above, there was this kind of like, gateway, you know, you had to get an agent or you had to get approval, you had to pass a test, or you had to, there was something in the way and and if you did get through that, if you were the lucky one, if you were super talented, and you’re the next like cilium zone, you know, and they choose you, they’re like, Oh, she’s got the voice of an angel, she’s going to be a star, there was all these people involved in deciding things for you, right, and opening certain doors and not opening others and deciding how much you can earn. And they would make more than you would and I think there was an era where becoming an artist meant you had to get permission or go through some kind of gate, where it was like, approved. And then if you did make it there, you know, you would get some money, but not much. So they kept there was like an oppression, like, you’re starving artists, you know, you got to stay in that position, you have your talent, and that’s going to nourish you. But this this relationship with money was very, like elusive. And it was like, No, you can’t have that you’re an artist, you know. So I feel a lot has changed. And technology, I think has opened that door for us. Because now we have direct access. People are singing into their microphones and recording themselves on Instagram, YouTube, wherever. And people are discovering them just directly, you know, or their, their, their their shows now that we can go in audition and be seen by millions of people, you know, from an audition? Right? This wasn’t there before. Do you think I do agree with this?

AK 44:01
I definitely see the like, I agree with the perspective. I still don’t agree with like the mindset. But I Yes, you’re right. I wasn’t an artist during that time. Well, I mean, I was but I it’s hard for me to speak because it’s not my direct experience, even though I’m directly influenced by that experience. But But again, I think, you know, it’s a scarcity mindset that we experience everywhere, in respect to being an artist in respect to money in respect to finding love. I mean, so so yes, I think we’re shifting as a society. But I think these limiting beliefs existed for everything and they kind of still do. We’re just more aware of them because we’re seeing the manifestation of the author also being true, but there were also many Celine Dion’s right. You know, there’s there’s Barbara Streisand, there’s Celine Dion. There’s Mariah Carey, there’s this person, there’s this person, there’s this there, you know, like they’re Yes, they’re super talented. But But there’s still many of them too, right? So, I don’t know, I don’t I see your point. I agree with it. You’re right. But it’s the same as you know, people teaching us that love is so hard to find. A glove is so hard to find. And it’s like, yeah, keep telling me that every day, you’re gonna make it hard for me to find it.

SK 45:47
Okay, so this opens up another door Anya…yeah. Oh, no, like how? So one of the things I’ve heard from from artists, but specifically female artists. The reason they wouldn’t dedicate themselves entirely to dance, because we use our bodies in dance, okay. And I would find some people that have the, you know, the personality, the talent, everything, you know, to be like to be the teacher to be the performer to be the competitor, but they wouldn’t fully invest themselves because, well, yes, the outside opinion of their parents, etc. But also, there was this angle of like, Well, my boyfriend’s jealous. Or, you know, you know, what happens when I have kids? Like, how do you see that?

AK 46:37
Get a new boyfriend?

SK 46:40
DUMP HIM! Okay, so But what if that what if they were single, and they’re thinking like this?

AK 46:46
Well again, it’s all a limitation of the mind frame if you have love in your life, right? Why do you feel that there’s no room for love in your life, right? It’s not a choice you have to make, you don’t have to choose your love for dance or your love for this person. You don’t have to choose your love for dance or your love for this child. You are a multifaceted human being, and you’re capable of being a mom, and being a dancer, and being a wife, and being all of the things you want to be. And you’re also fully capable to say no to the things you don’t want to do. And it’s just, it’s, I know, what I’m saying is much easier to say than to do. And I’m not saying that I myself haven’t been privy to a certain sense of limitation in the past, but it’s, it’s a really, it’s an old mindset, which I’m sure didn’t seem ridiculous at the time. But right now, it certainly is ridiculous, right? Because how many moms do we know that have dancing careers. So I’m really, I’m happy for all of the women that have paved the way as an example, but also really angry at at society for forcing us to go through these limiting beliefs and to live in that way for so long. Do I think there’s a truth to any of it? Absolutely not. If you’re dating someone that doesn’t want you to do something you love, date someone better. Right? If you are going out to dance, and you love, I don’t know, the attention that you get from other men, and that happens to make your boyfriend jealous, then investigate that side of your personality and maybe go to therapy and continue, you know, build a healthier relationship with your dancing, to have a healthier relation with your boy, right? Like there will be many dynamics that occur. That’s why we can’t really umbrella any of this as one unified thing. But, you know, the truth is, no one should ever stop you from doing anything that you love. And we were not born limited. So God didn’t come down and say, okay, you can only do this. But if you do this, you will not have that. And we have verbally, culturally, many fables and phrases that that would say otherwise, you know, like I was born, I was raised in a Russian household with Soviet culture. And they say ridiculous things like, well, when you’re lucky, you are not lucky in love, right? Like if you’re playing cards, and you have a really good poker hand, they’ll say, oh, you’re lucky in cards, you’ll be unlucky in love, right? And it just, it subconsciously builds that pattern for you of thinking, Okay, I can only have the one thing and it’s unfortunate, but there’s no truth to it. So do the work. Dig into your subconscious reprogram your genetics do some tapping. Right? It’s an actual tool. I know seriously, do you like doing that?

SK 50:09
Do you like doing that?

AK 50:11
I feel it, I feel it instantly. It’s it’s one of my saviors, right. Do some EFT, do some EMDR. Like do your interpersonal work but, but get rid of those limiting beliefs. They don’t belong to you. They didn’t come from anything you did. They’re just words. They’re words that seeped into your subconscious gave you a perspective that isn’t true. And now you’re living by them. Right. And so I question those things. I question those things. I don’t like the idea that I can only do one thing. I don’t like the idea that, you know, if you’re a salsa dancer, you can’t be a ballroom dancer, blah, blah, blah. Like any of it. I don’t like any of it. Because none of it is true, because there will be one person that comes out and does all of it. Right? And and why can’t you if they can, why can’t you? You’re not any less lucky will not any less fortunate. And God doesn’t have favorites.

SK 51:19
Ouuu I like that one? God doesn’t have favorites. I like that one. Let’s, let’s write that one down, folks. God doesn’t have favorites. Love it!

AK 51:26
You know, we are all we are all talented. It just that’s why I said that the practical thing to do as woowoo as it might sound, some of the practical thing to do is to figure out what makes you tick. Like, figure out what you love, have no shame around that. figure out why you like doing it, because the minute you figure it out, you will discover your specific talent in it. Right? So do I believe that Celine Dion is impeccably talented? Yes. Is a talent like hers, hard to come by, potentially. But it’s also because she’s perfectly aligned with her specific talent. You all have one, and you find it by paying attention to doing the things that you love. Those are your breadcrumbs. Pay attention to the things that set your soul on fire that you completely enjoy doing. That, you know, perhaps are not just like entertainment, right? Those things you think about it night? that? What is that activity you do where you feel fully connected to yourself and like, you don’t need anything else. That’s where you’ll find your talent. But I believe we’re all talented.

SK 52:54
That’s great advice. That’s gonna find the breadcrumbs, find them. Follow the breadcrumbs. Love that. I want to ask you a question about how does the dancer know they’re ready?

Anya Katsevman 53:11
You’re not ever and that’s good. Ready for what?

SK 53:16
So example, you know, I’m studying to become a teacher, I’m studying to perform or I’m taking classes, I want to prepare myself to compete. How do I know I’m ready?

AK 53:27
You’re not you won’t be and the best thing you can do to be ready is exposure therapy. Go try it.

SK 53:35
Okay, right. Oh, you do the competition, you do the show you take on that lesson. You may or may not succeed, or you may or may not be fully satisfied with the experience. But that’s how you get there.

AK 53:47
Yeah, you should you will succeed, you should be satisfied with the experience you eat, it will help you be more ready than you were. Right. So if I’m preparing for the Montreal Salsa Convention, I should start testing my readiness, six months before that, right. And if I feel ready for the Montreal Salsa Convention is because I did that much work of not being ready before that. And then I’ll use my Montreal Salsa Convention experience to help me get ready for the World Championships. And its cycles and its cycles and cycles. So at some point, you will get to a place of this is what my “not ready” looks like and it’s pretty damn good. That does happen. But being fully prepared, being fully ready is also like, what is that right?

SK 54:42
Does it exist?

AK 54:43
Well, that’s like, let’s identify that is that where you’re not going to feel nervous. You’re always going to feel nervous. You’re about to do something that’s important to you. The end. It’s that simple, right? Is that being prepared to actually succeed. Great. You will be prepared to succeed once you’ve tasted success and failure, it takes both. And I will still tell you that there’s nothing that I teach you will ever be equivalent of you trying it, right? Like it’s all hearsay and hypothetical, until you put yourself out there. On a scientific level, our nervous system adapts to things very quickly, very easily. We build muscle memory, we sustain skills, once you give your nervous system, a new stimulus, it could be the same activity in a different room. It completely changes everything, everything, because now your nervous system is taking in a different visual stimulation, a different audio stimulation, a different sensory stimulation, and that changes the way your brain governs your body. So nothing can replace you actually going out there and living it for yourself. So the idea of being ready usually keeps people on the sidelines preparing, preparing, it’s like I had a whole bunch of friends. You know, growing up that went to school, and then they went to college. And then they went to pre med. And then they went for their PhDs. And then they went for their post grad. And I’m like, dude, you’re just going to school and school and school and school and school? When are you going to live your life, right like that. That’s kind of what it feels like to me, you have to actually experience it for yourself, nothing can replace that.

SK 56:34
So it could be a healthy practice to get some new information or stimulus and then go ahead and practice it, execute it, show it and then keep that cycle so natural that you never feel stunted by this idea. Like I’m not ready?

AK 56:52
Yeah. And, you know, again, we can we can bring this hypothetical back to the physical and I find that your physical body always mirrors all the hypothetical lessons that are out there, right? If you’re constantly stimulating your nervous system, you will never be off balance. Right? And then that it’s that’s exactly the hypothetical here. If you’re constantly out there, if I did my routine, in this room, and in that room in that room, and I faced this wall, and I faced that wall, I faced that wall, I’m pretty much prepared for all of the circumstances. But when I’m constantly practicing my choreography facing the mirror, facing the mirror in the same room in the same room in the same room, you asked me to do it away from the mirror, I’m shocked. I don’t know what to do. All of a sudden, I forget all of my steps. How many times does that happen to your students?

SK 57:43
Well, not my students. But that’s actually part of the progress in part of the program is when we build a choreography, and we know we’re preparing students, for a show, we get to a certain point, and then we’re like, okay, turn around, no more mirror. And that always freaks them out. Oh, you know, and of course, the first couple of times, they’re like, Whoa, this is too different. I don’t know, I can’t see. And like, it’s only normal, you were using them the mirror as a reference point, you could gauge the distance between this person and that person, because you were looking at the mirror, but now it’s not there. So you got to use the other antennas. And so Yes, for sure. This is part of the preparation process, right?

AK 58:25
Yeah. I think it’s nice to never be fully ready, right? Like you’re allowing yourself to experience things without the connotation that you only deserve to if you’re perfect, right? Because that’s, that’s a component of readiness as well. Well, I have to be ready I have to be prepared or or else I’ll fail. You actually you might not right, like you, you might study the material and not feel like you’re ready for the test. But you go in there, you got your rest you did the studying that you could do. And and it all might make more sense to you then than you anticipated, and that’s something to be proud of. Right. So I think it’s actually a really good internal dialogue that that you’re creating when you allow yourself to participate even though you’re not perfect.

SK 59:19
Anya, how would you suggest a dancer that is now saying, you know, this is going to be what I want to do, I’m going to invest myself in there. What do you think is the best route for them to get training when it comes to business, you know, how to be a professional, you know, whether it comes into you know, how you communicate with your students or potential people that are hiring you or you know, even just to like, get your your visuals ready, your pictures, your business card, like what do you suggest for dancers?

AK 59:55
Yeah, this is like this is the part of my job that I call artist delopement. And like I this I love this part? I love this part. If someone could hire me to do this part for the rest of my life, I’ll be so happy.

SK 1:00:11
She’s available. Guys. She’s available! Call her now 1 800 ANYA

AK 1:00:16
I think it’s a very, very individual. So I think when it comes to everything about it has to be extremely true for the person, right. So I don’t follow trends, I don’t I never recommend following trends. But parameters are a good guideline. So when it comes to looking professional, right, it’s all about value, it’s about the value that you have towards what you’re giving and what you’re receiving. So being professional means you are being paid to do this. And you have to respect that. Right? So for me, for example, you know, if you hire me to perform for your event, I’m going to charge you top dollar, but I’m going to respect that dollar so much that Believe it or not, the costume that I’m gonna wear for your event will probably cost me more than the salary you’re going to pay me, right, and the amount of practicing and all of the things that I do to make sure that my work is as good as it can be. Right? That that’s because I value that you are paying me for this the same with my students, if my student is paying me for the time, the least I can do is give them my undivided attention. Right. So you have to value what you’re being given. And then you’ll notice that it’s much easier to understand what it is you need to do to be a professional, you can also put yourself in the shoes of someone you’re paying, right? If you paid someone, what would you expect them to give you in exchange for your money, right? Be that be live up to your own standard of that, as far as styling someone grooming them, bringing them into alignment with their branding, my personal style is always to go with what works for that person. let’s identify all of your best qualities. Let’s show them. Let’s talk about all of the things you love that make you happy that you will always be happy, wearing looking like etc. let’s identify that as your brand. Not because Elle magazine said is the right way to go. Not because so and so World Champion did it. But because that’s what you like, because that will make you individual that will be eye catching. Right? That’s the thing with not following trends. We already got one of those, we don’t need it from you. Right? What do you have to offer. So being unique and authentic for me go together. When you find your authenticity, you also find your unique voice when you’re unique, you’re instantly interesting for people, they they’re going to be more interested in you. Being a good teacher. That’s a huge one for me, because, again, all of the things we’ve talked about right how people misguide you and and affect you, you know, like I’m, I’m an empath. So I someone that’s an empath, it’s really easy to absorb all of the energy that’s around them. And so I’m very sensitive to someone coming in and their opinion being very loud. It takes me a moment to stand in my own truth, right? It’s easy for me to absorb that, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t say I write, especially if you if you’re someone that makes it a fact, right, like, you know, there could be all this food on the table, and you say, Would you like to have this? And the person will say, ooh, no, that’s disgusting, right? This is a very different experience than them saying, No, thank you. I don’t like that. Right? It’s very different. And so I’m very susceptible to being like, Oh, that is your right. That’s disgusting. Right? Like that.

You know. And so when it comes to teaching, I really stress that you understand how hard it is to learn. It’s vulnerable. You’re putting yourself in a place where you’re corrected, where you’re confronting the things you’re not good at, right and you’re striving for growth and progress. It’s a very delicate space. So mind, your language, mind, your language, mind your approach. You don’t have to give your students everything that’s out there. But identify what it is you are very good at offering. Don’t be ashamed of just offering that and right really mind the tone in which you do it, use positive language, anything can be communicated with love. as cliche as that sounds, you know, I find that it’s much more effective when I tell my students, that wasn’t very good. It’s much more effective than when I tell them that was that right is little things like that that could have been better is much gonna go much longer way than saying you suck. Right?

SK 1:05:36
Please don’t say this to your students!

AK 1:05:39
Mind, mind, your mind your authority also, right? Like you’re when you’re a teacher, you’re an authority figure. Don’t use that as a pedestal. Don’t use that to boost your own ego. Don’t use that to feel like the most popular like the best like, Don’t use your students to boost your self confidence. Don’t teach class to show off your skills. Don’t just don’t use their attention for selfish reasons. Give when you’re a teacher, that’s 100% A giving profession give, give, provide, educate, give them solutions, show by example, speak with kindness, make it about them, ask them questions, as dumb questions deviate away from your plan, as dumb questions connect to the energy of the room provide what is needed in the moment, you could be, you know, the most effective, the most efficient, like I said before, you could you could have the best eye and see everything that’s wrong. And it’s not about that. It’s not about that it’s about whatever the student needs in the moment. provide that. Right? Like, yeah, that’s, that’s a, an important topic for me, because I’m sensitive. And I was, you know, I always ask myself, how, how much more successful would I have been? If someone actually understood my sensitivity when I was learning, when someone was kind to me, instead of putting me down? You know, how I struggle with self confidence. And, and all of that has to do with the fact that I’m sensitive, and most people, you know, don’t cater their language to sensitive people. So when I’m teaching, I just imagine that everyone is sensitive.

SK 1:07:42
That’s interesting. Do you think that that tough love in a class could also work? How would you? Like you, you’re saying, you know, teach your students like, they’re all sensitive.

Anya Katsevman 1:07:57
I don’t believe in tough love. I believe in love.

SK 1:08:03
just love…remove the first word!

AK 1:08:06
There’s no such thing as tough love, right? Like, love is love. It’s loving. It’s compassionate. It’s kind, I believe in honesty. I won’t lie to you. If something doesn’t look good, I’m not going to tell you it does.

SK 1:08:22
I think that’s what the reference is when they say tough love, I think it means like, you know, give it to me straight, you know, don’t sugarcoat it, because I want to know, you know,

AK 1:08:31
That’s a terrible way to communicate that then, right? Because I have a whole bunch of students that are so used to being abused, that they literally they seek that environment. And they think that that I’m a pansy, because it’s like medicine, right? You’re like, no, but we like being yelled at. It’s a good push for me. I like it. It sets me straight. But you know what, it’s not your teacher’s job to motivate you or to set you straight. That’s your job. Right? You as the student chose to be here, you’re doing this 100% for you, motivate yourself. Right, and you don’t need to be yelled at to be productive. That’s trauma from your childhood.

SK 1:09:23
We’re gonna put that up on the wall. Listen up, folks. If you need to be yelled at we need to talk we need to psychology we got a we got to talk.

AK 1:09:32
Maybe that was inappropriate of me to say but and I apologize for that. But in a sense, that’s largely often what it comes down to. Right. Like we get used to not being spoken to in the way that resonates with us. We get used to people using us to feel good about themselves. That’s a common dynamic in any social interaction, right? There will always be one person that wants the power. So they’ll put you down in order to feel like they have it. And especially when you’re very sensitive, it works. You get used to it, you feel like that’s what you deserve. That’s your normal, you start twisting those words into, I need that. It’s how I function. It’s how I operate. So I just, I don’t believe that’s how anyone functions. I could be totally wrong. But this is just my belief. I believe. Love is love. It doesn’t need to be taught. It doesn’t need to be anything. But I do think honesty is very important. Right? So when I say all of these things, I don’t mean to give off the impression that sugarcoating is okay. It isn’t. Because it’s not honest. I think honesty is kindness, right? For me, that is love. You’re paying me to be honest, you’re paying me to give you something you don’t already have students do this part too, right? They don’t ask you for help until the very last moment, because they don’t actually want help. They just want you to tell them that they’re fabulous. Write it, all of this will happen. Because we’re people and we’re all kind of circulating in this dynamic. We’re all guilty of that. Right? myself included, probably all the listeners. And it’s okay, right? Because we have our good days, and we have our good bad days. I don’t think it’s okay to have that when you’re a teacher, though, right? I think every student needs to take responsibility for their own education. So if they’re having a good day or a bad day, they need to recognize that and take the responsibility for it. But as a teacher, I try to not have bad days with my students. Because, to me, that’s irresponsible. So I tried to be as centered as I can be, which also includes being confident in my work, right? I try to be as confident as I could be. So when these you know, I had I was I was training a very prominent couple. A few years ago, they were preparing for the worlds. And I arrived there, and I looked at their routine. And it was shit. Like it was shit, right. And, you know, they’re, you know, they want to succeed, I’m not going to talk about the rank, because, you know, I want to keep it anonymous, but they, they wanted to succeed. And I and I could tell that that wasn’t their best work. And with that work, they wouldn’t succeed for for the goals that they set for themselves. And one of the dancers, when I expressed that opinion, and was ready to get, you know, roll up my sleeves and do the work they hired before, one of the dancers said, Well, I feel you’re being very negative, and I didn’t, you know, I’m not hiring you to talk my work down. You know? And, and that was really hard to hear. That was really hard to hear, because my first instinct is to check myself and to say, Oh, shit, am I being… Am I being negative? Am I am I not being sensitive to the situation like, what am I? Is it true? Am I am I actually being detrimental in any way right now and it and I really had to take it in but, but at that moment, it was also my job to take a step back and say, I have no reason to be negative. I have no reason to talk your work down. There’s nothing in it for me. So the chances of me doing it are very unlikely. So let’s put you in check. Right? Is it possible that you just don’t like the fact that the truth is not the truth you were expecting? Right? And so for us as teachers, it’s very important to stay centered in that way and confidence in what we’re doing. You know, I am, I very frequently catch myself catering to the one student that’s unhappy and ignoring the 49 that are thrilled with my work, and that’s bad. And that’s bad. That’s something I’m aware of. So I can work on it because why am I fixated on someone wears it, that’s not the popular opinion. Right? So the chances of it being reflective of my work are very rare, right, like or not high in the moment and minimal right usually had a bad day and you’re taking it out on me that happens to right?

SK 1:15:05
It could also be coming from, as a teacher, you know, in your heart, you do want to help each person you do want them to succeed,

AK 1:15:14
Certainly. But again, that success rate will always depend on the readiness of the student, right. And so one of the biggest gifts a teacher can give their students is to realize that they have nothing to do with the student success, you know, like, Yes, I’ve coached many world champions, and yes, I’ve mentored many professionals. And yes, I, I’ve, I’ve been there from the beginning till the epitome of their, you know, leaps in their careers, but I’m not the reason they did it, they are the reason they did it. Right. So that relieves the teacher of a lot of pressure. But also, you know, you have to, like the student needs to stay responsible for their stuff, but also empowered in that way. Right? You’re just you’re just a small part of their process, you’re just a catalyst for them to get what it is they desire. So it’s, you know, it’s completely, not about the self, right? When you’re teaching. It’s like, it’s not about the self. So I totally lost the point or, well, let’s really, I don’t really know how to drive this home. But the bottom line is, if you’re an artist looking for a career, just know, there are so many ways that dream can come true for you. There are so many opportunities out there. That just because Anya did this, this, this doesn’t mean your career will look like that in order to be equally successful. Right? There are many ways there’s teaching, there’s performing, there’s having a school, there’s, you know, judging, there’s being on TV, there’s being in shows, there’s being a model for hire that moves, there’s, there’s all of these things that you know about and don’t know about. And like, that’s not even, that’s not what you should be concerned with. What you should be concerned with is what you like, and how you want to spend your time every day. You know, I love teaching, I love dancing, I love performing, but I love teaching. I get physically very tired today, I danced all day. And I’m exhausted. But when I teach all day, I don’t get as exhausted. So that’s a choice that I make. Right? I have many friends and students that I trained that they have no interest in teaching, they dance because they love to move, right? So just be open to the fact that your career, you know, you could be the worst dancer in one place, and the best dancer somewhere else at the same time.

SK 1:18:08
Oh my God, that is so true. Right? When you travel, you see this?

AK 1:18:13
Right? So you could have zero people in your class in New York City. But the most successful school that ever existed in Nashville, Tennessee, right. And none of that is an indication of success or failure, right? It’s all a matter of what what your heart speaks to, right. And you’re providing a service, whether it’s entertainment or education or whatever, when you line up with the integrity of that service, the place where that service is needed opens up to you. And there, there’s a plethora of ways that that can happen.

SK 1:18:57
You’ve been very generous with us today. And we know you’ve been dancing all day, we want you to soak your feet in Epson salt.

AK 1:19:07
All day! It made me happy because you know, I haven’t for a really long time and I started my day with ballroom dance class. And then I ran to a video shoot. And then I taught two hours. And then I came here and so today I feel fully fulfilled. Like every part of me got to be alive today. And that feels really nice.

SK 1:19:34
You know, being in a city where we have a lockdown and my studio can’t function and we have a curfew. what you just described is a fantasy. So it’s a true blessing.

AK 1:19:47
Come to New York. We’ll be happy to have you we are also in quarantine. So just for political interest. I just want to Make sure that I say all of this was very safely done.

SK 1:20:06
We wore our masks, we had washed our hands,

AK 1:20:09
temperature checks were taken, and I get tested very regularly. So it was all done with the right measures and precautions.

SK 1:20:18
That’s awesome. And I think that, you know, moving forward, people from around the world that love dance, and either were doing it pre COVID or, or are just starting to do it now. You know, we all know that that health is number one, and, you know, being being super aware of what is needed, you know, to stay healthy, and to keep everyone healthy, I’m sure is on everybody’s mind. So I don’t think that that’s going to be a true issue. I think that if anything, dancers are so conscious of themselves in that sense, you know, like, we wash our hands often were super aware of, you know, our clothing and odors and stuff like that, because that’s already was part of the social dance world, but we had to, like, make sure that we’re okay because we’re sharing time with someone in our arms or in our hands. So I think if anything, dancers are, are okay, in this in this area, I don’t think we need to worry, you know about being healthy. And on that note, when you dance, it, it definitely brings up your immune system, because you’re happy in so many ways, and you’re being physical, and you’re being emotionally being spiritual and your you know, I do believe that people that dance are healthier.

AK 1:21:37
Ah, I couldn’t agree with you more for again, every single reason that is out there dance, for me is literally medicine. Because whether you know the science or not, it’s like your it is the one activity of human being can do that harmonizes both parts of the brain simultaneously, right? Like you, you utilize both sides of the brain equally when you’re dancing. And that’s very rare for us as humans. And when our brain has equilibrium, it regulates the whole body, right? And deeper than that, when you’re dancing, you’re engaging your physical self, your cognitive self and your emotional self. So your creative Center, the spiritual aspect of it, right, you’re disconnected from your thoughts. You’re sensing every aspect of the experience and you’re using your physical body to do it. It’s like the most harmonious activity, whether you’re someone that is a scientist or religious or spiritual like, it doesn’t matter how what perspective you take dance is an awesome freakin thing to do. Yeah.

SK 1:22:56
YESSSS I have been saying that forever. Thank you. And yeah, yeah,

AK 1:23:01
no, it’s amazing for, you know, I feel so blessed that that we get you know, today I am, I was forced to make a tic tok. And

SK 1:23:14
We were forced to make tic toks.That’s so funny.

AK 1:23:17
I was helped. No, actually, I enjoy it. I’m just I’m not great at it. So I always need a friend to help me or encouraged me or something. So I made one and I literally just improvise to one of my favorite songs. It’s an Aerosmith song dreamer. And, you know, for me in that moment, it became so clear. I’m like, you know what, I’m so happy. I’m a dancer, because everyone feels something when they hear music, everyone feels something. And we actually get to get up and act that out, right? We get to process it through our whole body and not just stay with those sensations or emotions, we get to express them and expel them out. And that, you know, yeah, dance is magnificent.

SK 1:24:07
You said something that this? Well, it’s my reality. And for the listeners that don’t know, My son is autistic, and when he hears music, it’s, it’s beyond his control. He gets up and he starts dancing, and he starts moving and he just starts. He literally busts out into moves I’ve never seen before in my entire life. He’s super creative. He gets super happy and it’s like, like just massive, natural, pure expression. And this is something that you know, I’ve been telling people like, people that have challenges mental health, even physically disabled people, if they’re able to at least you know, move some part of their body and respond to music. It is so therapeutic. It is so good for them. You know, and I live that every day and I see how my son Diego is, is healing himself and to a certain extent, you know, he’s able to feel joy and and do something that is just natural, it doesn’t, it doesn’t need to be structured, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be appropriate. You know, it’s just like, he could be anywhere and he hears a song and that’s it. He’s dancing, he doesn’t care where his bus stop grocery store, who cares, he’s just doing it. So it’s wonderful to see that how liberating that is for him. And, you know, what I hope will be something that, you know, autistic kids and other children are able to experience you know,

AK 1:25:44
yeah, that’s beautiful. I mean, I’m, I’m really happy that he chose two parents that dance.

SK 1:25:53
Oh, thank you love. I do believe that it was it was by design. And that, you know, all the experience that we’ve had as instructors, as entrepreneurs as just, you know, our life experience has allowed us to give him such a great, you know, life in my opinion, of course, I’m the mom, I’m gonna say that, but it’s true. I feel like he’s got everything he needs to feel safe and secure and happy and well, well taken care of, you know, because he’s, he’s so loved. And he’s also really accepted because he’s around people that dance and dance, you know, makes us more open makes us more loving makes us more sensitive. You know, it just does. So, you know, anybody that’s at the studio, or anybody that has been to our events, and they’ve seen Diego like their eyes are full of love, you know? And I think that’s one of the beauty that dance brings out in us.

AK 1:26:51
Yeah. Yeah. That’s beautiful.

SK 1:26:54
So on that note, beautiful, Anya Katsevman. Thank you so much for sharing today with with my podcast with me and our listeners. You know, we have so much to look forward to moving moving ahead now posts COVID dancers that want to start in dance or people that are just coming back to it. I think we are it’s like we woke up in a new world. And and were able to kind of start fresh and and really open up a whole new dimension of dance.

AK 1:27:26
yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This was wonderful. And I can’t wait to give you a hug.

SK 1:27:34
Same here same here with a mask but we’re gonna we’re gonna hug.

AK 1:27:38
But you know, I like Canadian family so much. I miss Montreal. I really miss all you guys.

SK 1:27:47
We miss you, too. We miss you too. Let’s see what happens in 2021. Worst case scenario 2022. But we shall dance again.

AK 1:27:55
Yes, I agree.

SK 1:27:56
Thank you, Anya. Have a great night.

AK 1:27:59
Thank you, you too.

Voiceover 1:28:05
Thanks for listening. Find Sonia on Instagram at SONIKYRI and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at Sonia Kyriacou. Check back weekly for new episodes. Until the next time, keep dancing.

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