Hey Mambo! - Matt Bielli

Samantha StoutSeptember 07, 2022Ballroom Chat: Episode #62
matt bielli ballroom chat

Matt Bielli talks about his background in dancing Latin social styles while growing up in Italy, his move to the US, and his choice to separate his 10 dance competitive experience from his passion for Mambo, Salsa and other Cuban style dances. Samantha and Matt discuss his perspective on current rhythm dancing versus Latin dancing and he shares his knowledge and perspective on social Latin styles. Matt also delibrates on the pros and cons of switching to a competive Rhythm or 9-Dance future.

Matt Bielli is a Professional 10 dance dancer. He is also a pro-am instructor and will be competiting in this year's USDC Mambo World Championships.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Samantha: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat, the podcast dedicated to sharing the dance journey. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. Today, I'm joined by Matt Bielli. He is a professional 10 dance dancer. He is also a pro-am instructor and a soon to be professional Mambo competitor at this year's USDC Mambo world championships.

I got to talk to him about his background in dancing, the Latin social styles, growing up in Italy, as well as his move to the US, his choice to separate, uh, his 10 dance experience as a profession and his passion for Mambo, Salsa and other Cuban style dances, as well as we just got to talking about his perspective on current, uh, rhythm dancing versus Latin dancing in a ballroom dancesport sense. Uh, his knowledge and perspective on social Latin styles and where he sees his future as far as dancing goes. Whether he's going to stay as a professional 10 dance, dancesport, uh, competitor, or if he sees maybe a migration to one of the other styles in his future. So please enjoy my conversation with Matt Bielli.

Well, thank you, Matt so much for being against on today's podcast.

[00:01:38] Matt: I'm so excited for real. Thank you for having me. It's so exciting.

[00:01:43] Samantha: Yeah. I'm so glad that we were able to find a time to chat. Um, I remember like very briefly running into you at Vegas Open this year and just watching you with your students and watching your showcase. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is an amazing dancer. So I'm glad that we were like finally able to find a reason to connect and actually get to chat.

[00:02:03] Matt: You actually, you actually, we actually met before?

[00:02:05] Samantha: Like 30 seconds, like, Hey, Hey, like competitor ProAm in the craziness. That was Vegas open this year. It was

[00:02:14] Matt: for real.

[00:02:15] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:02:16] Matt: Oh, wow. We start off amazingly because I forgot. Perfect.

[00:02:20] Samantha: No, no, I, I do not expect anyone to remember me from like a, a passing competitor situation.

[00:02:27] Matt: Yeah.

[00:02:28] Samantha: Because that

[00:02:29] Matt: sliding door situation.

[00:02:30] Samantha: Yeah. And, and I'm sure, you know, this being a competitor, like what your Pro-partner looks like when she's in the studio and what your Pro-partner looks like when she's on the floor, two different people. So yeah. Without the hair and makeup.

[00:02:44] Matt: So I'm just, I'm excused. I'm excused.

[00:02:46] Samantha: Absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:02:49] Matt: Perfect. Now, without my beard, I look different too. Like I, I look like I'm 16.

[00:02:54] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:02:54] Matt: So

[00:02:54] Samantha: Well and with the hair, like not slicked back, like it's a whole different look depending on whether you're on the floor, when you, whether you're not.

[00:03:02] Matt: It's there's a transformation

[00:03:04] Samantha: for sure. Um, so I know you as a professional 10 dancer, a cabaret performer, also ProAm instructor soon to be hopefully, maybe Mambo U S D C champion. We'll talk about that here in a little bit. Um,

[00:03:20] Matt: absolutely.

[00:03:21] Samantha: But for those that are maybe not as familiar with you in your journey, how did you get into the dance sport world and kind of give us the short version of from start to today?

[00:03:32] Matt: All right. Amazing question. So I used to play basketball cuz I wanted to be like my father in-law with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. Um, he had all the, like a stack of like DVDs and I was watching all the like classic like games and plays and stuff. So I wanted to be like him, but when I was in fourth grade, um, my team, like we, they didn't have enough kids, so I was like nine around nine or 10 years old. And my mom was asked to attend a, an open day for a new dance school in a town next to my town in Italy. And, and she brought my, I have two twin sisters or two, three years younger than me. So they were like six or seven. And since I was too small to stay home alone, basically my mom took me with her and we entered this place and they're playing salsa.

Uh, a bunch of kids of course, was on an open day for kids, bunch of kids, some of them were advanced, like they, I could see that they were dancers. New kids like me and I fell in love instantly. I was like, I really like it. Like I felt it. I, I think that my mom kind of knew I would've been interested because, um, growing up my parents would take me to, um, We call 'em villages or like, um, yeah, summer villages. So basically we go to this town on the, on the sea and there's people dancing like baby club. And I was always dancing, like all the gr line dances. I knew all of them. I really liked to dance. So I think that my mom like actually knew I would've liked it. And especially since I just, I just recently stopped playing basketball, she would be like, maybe he's gonna like it.

And I actually did. And then the next day I attended the first group class. So my first dance, the first dance I've ever learned was bachata then salsa, merengue, cumbia and all the other dances. And so that's how it started. Then after three years of, uh, shows, um, learning, you know, the Caribbean dances, um, my parents didn't really like the organization of that school.

So they took me to another school of a, one of the biggest dance schools in Italy still today. Biggest, really biggest dance school in Italy. And my teacher told me, look, when you dance salsa and bachata, you can get up to a certain level. And if you're not really Latino, there's nowhere else basically you can go. I would recommend you start learning Latin American.

So at the age of 13, I started Latin American dancing. A year later, my dance partner was like, I really wanna learn Liscio. Liscio is like the national dancing that we have in Italy, ballroom dancing, but national like folk. Right. And it's synonym of old people. So it's like, no, I don't wanna do it. Liscio, never. And it's funny because Liscio translated in English literally means Smooth. Anyway. So Liscio never. Absolutely no. Like Mazurka, Polka, Waltz, I was like, no.

But then I started, and I don't know, something hit me. I was like, wow. And then quickly after that, we started doing actual standard, international ballroom, and I really, really liked it. So at the same time I was doing salsa, merengue, bachata, cumbia, panchanga, all those dances and I was doing my Latin. I was doing my ballroom. Then I stopped taking lessons of Caribbean dances and I noticed that, uh, Latin and ballroom had much more competitions, much more competitors. So I, I always, I was always competitive. So I was like, yeah, yeah, I wanna do where there's more competition, but I never stopped dancing salsa, bachata, like group class, group lessons and stuff, attending congresses.

Then I had to stop taking Latin because I split. And the only girl available was just a standard dancer. And this was like when I was in my early twenties. Uh, so I only did ballroom for a few years for like four or five years. Then my last dance partner in Italy we split in 2018 because there was a lot of problems with my dance, um, teacher, my dance teachers, and I've always wanted to move to America.

I always wanted to be on Dancing with the Stars, do all those things, be a dancer in America. So it was like, okay, you know what? Let's try. So I came to America and I met this girl, Taya. Uh, and it's funny because we met in a place cuz I actually, I also wanted to quit ballroom. I just wanted to do, um, salsa and bachata because I felt like they were always in me.

I was lucky enough to be around a lot of Cubans, a lot of Ricos. So people that really taught me salsa, bachata, mambo, merengue, like the actual, the proper way. And I always felt that I had it. So when I moved here, I was only taking salsa and bachata lessons, fusion lessons. Then I went to a studio where they went, they were teaching fusion lessons for people that went to dance in Vegas.

So they were teaching your lifts, mix of Latin and, you know, commercial. And the teacher that day was Taya, was the assistant to the teacher. And the teacher was Armen, Armen Way in the Glendale. And, um, so when we met and she was like, you're a ballroom dancer. And I was like, yeah, you're a ballroom dancer. And she was like, yeah, let's , are you a 10-dancer? Yeah. I'm a 10-dancer.

So basically the day after, day after that, we had a tryout and we decided to dance together. And I felt that was a sign from God that I had to go back on track with my 10 dancing, my ballroom and Latin. And, uh, we basically get to this day.

I don't dance with Taya anymore. Um, you know, she's Ukrainian, there's a lot of, you know, problems in Ukraine. Her mom is here, she's very sick. So it was too overwhelming for her to do everything. And, but I never, again, I never stopped doing my Mambo or my Salsa and Bachata. Again, I feel like it's part of me. Uh, I tell everybody that ballroom is my job and salsa is my passion. um, and basically, yeah, when we split, um, I, I, Tony and I were friends, we used to practice in the same studio and I've danced with him and we were like, let's try this Mambo championship thing. Let's let's make history. And we got to today.

[00:10:43] Samantha: yeah, that's that, that's so interesting. Um, because I feel like it fills in a lot of the questions that I had just looking at kind of your CV, which is how does this 10 dancer in the ballroom world suddenly wanna switch to Mambo, which is like the fifth dance in American rhythm

[00:11:03] Matt: rhythm.

[00:11:04] Samantha: Like how does all of that work together? So it's, it's fascinating to me that, to hear that you really started off in the social Latin styles, is that

[00:11:14] Matt: right

[00:11:15] Samantha: is that popular in Italy or, or did it just happen to be that you were situated near a village that had a dance program that happened to be doing salsa and bachata and merengue?

[00:11:29] Matt: Um, in Milan, salsa, bachata, mambo, merengue, kizomba now, are super, super popular. We have a lot of Latinos. Um, one of my last dance teachers is Fernando Sosa, who is from, um, Montevideo. And, but he moved to Milan many years ago and he helped build. And also the Vasquez brothers, they helped build social dancing in, uh, and the culture of Latin and Caribbean dances in Milan. So Milan there is the biggest clubs in, in Italy for all concerns and the most famous with the best artists, the best congresses are all in Milano.

So I was lucky to be, yeah, situated in a place in Italy where it it's very, very popular. If it would've, for example, if I would've to be born in the center of Italy, the center of Italy is very strong for standard. So for example, Sammi, Gozzoli, they're all from Toscana. Um, or for example, Team Diablo, which is one of the biggest school of dancing in Europe, they're from min Romania from the center. If I would've to be from the south, there's a lot of Latin dancers. Um, Langella, Goffredo, they're all from the south and I happen to be a north where there's salsa and bachata. Yeah. And I, and I always feel like, um, yeah, for me to say that I'm a 10 dancer, even if it's what I'm competing at and I've been doing, it's very small for me. Like, I feel like it's, it's just what I'm competing at competing at, but I have a lot of background in salsa in, in the salsa world. So it's very big in Milan to answer to your question. yeah.

[00:13:22] Samantha: Yeah, no, I like that. I, and it is kind of funny how life works out some days where you're like, if I had been born 20 minutes north or south, or, or if I hadn't crossed the street at this exact time where there was a, you know, a sign that was say that said hiring, like my entire life would've been different. Um, so I, I wanna

[00:13:43] Matt: absolutely. Yes.

[00:13:44] Samantha: Kind of pick your brain a little bit more about that. Like, this is my job versus this is my passion. I totally get that. Um, I have students all the time that are like you dance smooth. What's your favorite dance? Expecting me to say like tango or Foxtrot. And I'm like, well, I really like, uh, Rumba at the moment.

[00:14:00] Matt: All of them

[00:14:00] Samantha: yeah. Yeah. All right. Which of the 27 is my favorite today? I don't know this one

[00:14:08] Matt: exactly. You said right today, because today my favorite could be the tango, but tomorrow is for sure not the tango.

[00:14:17] Samantha: Yeah. So, um, when you kind of separate the, the things that you are passionate about versus the things that you are focusing on, either from a competition perspective or a teaching perspective, do you hold like salsa and merengue now as this is, this is personal and this is just for me.

And this is something that I want to maybe not teach and compete in because I, I wanna kind of keep it in this special place or are you like, you know what? It, it depends on the day what, I'm, what I'm super excited about. So I'm gonna teach everything. I'm gonna compete in everything. I'm gonna dance everything. I'm gonna enjoy everything.

[00:14:55] Matt: I love this question. You hit it. I love it because when I first moved to America and it was like, um, I moved here for good, because I came here, I met Taya I had to go back paperwork and stuff, come back here. So when I first moved here for good, at the beginning of 2019, I went and watched the California Open 2019.

First dance I see is the rhythm final open, final. And they were dancing the mambo. So I hear it, the mambo and I was like, no way, they're dancing the mambo. Okay. I sit down and I was like, what the F is this? Like, this is not anything. What, what the heck is this? I was, I was like, no. And then after that, there was the, now then there was some of my, um, Italian friends dancing in the final of ballroom final, the ballroom final. And then there was this smooth, final, and I, and I was even more shocked. I was like, what the heck is this anyways?

So, I, when you say to keep it for myself, yes. I wanted to keep salsa, mambo, bachatta for myself, because I felt like the ballroom culture wouldn't understand what real salsa, real mamb is, real Chacha is. Right? The thing is, for me, Chacha is also part of ballroom. So I already knew that cha cha is different. Like it's international Chacha, but then I see rhythm Chacha being danced like an international Chacha. And I see mambo dance, like a Samba or a Chacha. So I was like, no, I'm ne I am never gonna do these dance ever. I'll stay with my 10 dances, because I know that what I've been trained in is recognized. If I dance mambo, nobody like people are gonna be like, what the heck is this? Not knowing that what I'm dancing is actually what they're doing in Cuba, right? Right. Or they do in New York, like in the, in the actual clubs in New York.

Um, so yeah, I always wanted to keep it for myself. And I was only going salsa, dancing, uh, at the clubs. Here in LA, there's a lot of places. In San Diego, there's a lot of places. And the dancing, like I used to, I mean, they dancing, like they taught me. There's a lot of Latinos here. Of course. So the Vasquez brothers are back here in LA now. Um, Altaca Y La Alemena which I was taking lessons with in bachata, um, they used to be here in, they moved to Florida, but they come back here. So here the community is the original community. But I felt like in the ballroom world, it would be completely misunderstood or not under not understood and pushed.

But then I met Tony and I was like, you know what? Let's teach these people what real Mambo is.

[00:17:54] Samantha: He's the instigator of good trouble, that one.

[00:17:57] Matt: Yes, absolutely. Yes, absolutely. Yes. Uh, so he really was like, you know, what, who cares? I mean, at the end of the day, what the judges think about, um, it's none of our businesses, like we cannot change what they think about. We can just dance as best as we can and, uh, Mambo championship.

Yeah. It's definitely a big, important competition, but it's not something that's gonna, it's not a life or death situation. So even if we are not under the judge's standards, we bring our standards. We bring, we bring what we grew up with. Um, and whatever's gonna happen is gonna happen. Hopefully they're gonna recognize that we wanna bring culture like actual mambo culture, um, actual Mambo songs. I hope that they're gonna like it, but again, it's not like it's up to us. Yeah.

[00:18:58] Samantha: It's, it's so interesting. I feel like this last kind of series of episodes that I've been doing with the, the podcast I've been having similar conversations with guests, but from various different backgrounds. So, um, for, for listeners that are thinking back to just a couple weeks ago, when we had Enio and Terryl on the podcast, they were saying essentially the same thing that you're saying, which is. We love the salsa community. What we see on a competition floor is not how salsa is danced in the clubs. What we see on the Mambo competition floor is not what we see in the Mambo clubs. It's missing a lot of the character and the flavor and the, the expression, because it's trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, right.

We're trying to conform to this idea of what ballroom or dancesport is, but we're trying, but we're taking dances that have other cultural significance in other cultural meaning, and then trying to like fit it in this competition structure. Um, So, yeah. So how do you, how do you,

[00:20:09] Matt: I feel it,

[00:20:09] Samantha: how do you and Tony, when you're preparing for something like the Mambo championships kind of respect the fact that it is USDC, it is part of this larger, um, event, but also say like we're gonna go out and do our own thing and hopefully at least the audience enjoys it.

[00:20:30] Matt: They're gonna enjoy it for sure. We have such a fire piece. It's so cool. And, um, I have to say about, okay. For example, sometimes I go on YouTube. I don't know. I watch Blackpool open, final Tango. And then I see the comments. What the heck is this? This is not how Tango is danced. They're the real Tango is the one he dance in Argentina, right.

Or I go to. Samba open final. Samba. And I see all the Brazilians, what the heck is this? This is not the hottest Samba. What, what's this running? Why are they running? What are they doing? This is not a real Samba. Right? You see a Mambo Championship, the Mambo championship, or the Mambo final, the rhythm final, and they're dancing Mambo.

And you see, this is not real Mambo. True. So at the same time, uh, this mambo is ballroom mambo. The Chacha that we dance is ballroom Chacha. So in a way I do not expect them to do it the traditional way, but at least I would wanna see some characteristics. Right?

[00:21:37] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:21:37] Matt: so what Tony and I want to show is that you can dance a recognizable mambo for a ballroom perspective. But with the flavor that the mambo really had, like the characteristic, how many judges and how many coaches are telling you, this Waltz, I don't see the characteristic. I don't see the drive. I don't see the body flight. I don't see the rise and fall. I don't see the ups swing the low, I mean,

[00:22:06] Samantha: yeah.

[00:22:07] Matt: Show me the characteristic of Waltz or show me the characteristic of Tango. Perfect. I see. Mambos danced like a anything and everything except mambo.

[00:22:17] Samantha: So how,

[00:22:18] Matt: or I see the chacha. Yeah.

[00:22:19] Samantha: How would you define the characteristics of a Mambo then? What are you looking for in a good Mambo?

[00:22:26] Matt: Okay. First of all, Cuban motion. No, no bounce. No, um, swing in a sense of like a jive swing? Um, no, no. Um, let's say nothing ballroom-ish, because that's what I see. Right? Like I see a bunch of, ah, that's a good one, no doggy style. When if you, if in the sense, no inappropriate stuff, just because it's mambo and it's hot. If you look I'm, I'm not kidding if you

[00:23:08] Samantha: yeah.

[00:23:08] Matt: Type the last rhythm open final, and you see those things. So I'm like, because it's Mambo and it's like a hot dance it's from Cuba. It doesn't mean that it has to be sexual. Right? So I would say the characteristics of Mambo are to show the Cuban motion and to show the basic characteristic of Cuban dancing. Cuban dancing has, there's like 50 styles dancing. There's Timba, guaracha, guaguanco rumba, like there's so much. Um, and none of this is displayed. It's like saying that you watch, um, I dunno, an international tango final and they're not doing staccato and they're not doing any promenades and they're doing rise and fall, like okay. The frame is correct. Okay, cool. So this for example would be like you, the tempo was correct, but I don't see any technical thing.

Why are you just slide, you're gliding. I need to the staccato. Yeah.

[00:24:16] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:24:17] Matt: I, I really see a mambo dance with a lot of Samba thing, a lot of bounce. Why are you bouncing? I see a lot of movements that are very appropriate for other dances. Chacha like international Chacha, international Samba. I see a bunch of jive actions, like literally like jive kicks.

[00:24:42] Samantha: Right?

[00:24:43] Matt: Um, when. There's so much to pull from in the Cuban, um, tradition. There's so many pachanga, there's so many things you can, steps you can get your inspiration from and they're not. Um, does that answer the question?

[00:25:05] Samantha: Of course, of course. Yeah.

[00:25:06] Matt: Or for example, in cha, sorry, in Chacha in the rhythm, wanna see Chacha dance by professional, uh, rhythm Chacha by professionals. It looks like international Chacha. And if you're, if it's rhythm Chacha, I wanna see, man, I wanna see some rumba actions. I wanna see some guanguanco, like some like move like legs, knees working, shoulders, not just what people do in Latin, you know?

[00:25:44] Samantha: Yeah, I it's come up a couple times here. And I, I mean, it's, it's an ongoing conversation in our industry, which is like rhythm hasn't quite found its legs yet, or, or it hasn't been codified in a way to avoid the, the pendulum swing of judges over time. I, I feel like with Latin and especially with standard, like we know what a characteristic of an international, uh, Rumba should look like, right? We're we're looking for straight leg transfer, arriving on the foot. Yes. You have a bent knee, but you're trying to get to that straight leg action as quickly as possible. There's a snap to it. And then a hip ooziness melt and, and you're working the rib cage with the hip in such a way that you kind of have this fluidity through the body.

Um, Some years, American rhythm judges wanna see that from American rhythm. Other years, people want really hard Cuban action with very bent knee and rolling over this like forced press line and, and having almost a disjointed action through the body so that you can see every joint stretching and bending in its own unique time. And then five years later they want Latin action.

[00:27:05] Matt: Switch back.

[00:27:06] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:27:08] Matt: I feel like now we're in the trend that there's they want to do Latin because I, I see that who goes, who is having good results is very Latin. Um,

[00:27:23] Samantha: so I don't know if you saw the announcement that I saw, and this is gonna kind of date when we're recording this episode a little bit. Um,

[00:27:31] Matt: what's what's announcement.

[00:27:32] Samantha: Andre and Natalie have just announced that they are gonna be retiring at the end of this season.

[00:27:39] Matt: Of course, of course theyare forcing them to retire. Um, so basically my Latin coaches, they all love Andre and Natalie, but they all say that Hmm, them retiring will allow for what we were just, you were just talking about. For Rhythm to find its own, um, brand, cause international ballroom has its own brand. International latin has its own brand. Smooth has definitely its own brand because it's very far away from ballroom and very far away from Latin.

[00:28:21] Samantha: Yep.

[00:28:22] Matt: Um, I, to today. Rhythm looks like a mock, like they're trying to be like Latin, but they're not Latin. You know what I mean? Um, so they cannot really find their brand. They're define what the judges like in, in, in like they're all agreeing on finding one way to judge it. Um, I honestly like Natalie and Andre, every time I see them live, like my butt shakes. Cause I can like, I'm, I'm, I'm so excited to see them. I'm really so excited to see it. But at the same time, they kind of represent rhythm in a Latin way. They're show PE, they're showmen, they are show people like they, for me are what a dancer should be like with each other entertaining the public.

[00:29:18] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:29:20] Matt: I don't care about the judges and in fact, nobody can touch them. Now they, uh, Francesco is, is getting where he is getting. um, it's kind of sad that they're retiring, but at the same time, I feel like it's makes sense. Um,

[00:29:38] Samantha: yeah. And, and I mean, they've been undefeated many years. I feel like at this

[00:29:44] Matt: 8 years, I think it's eight years.

[00:29:45] Samantha: Eight years. Yeah. I was like, I wanna say seven, but I also feel like that's too long, but yeah, no, you're probably right. It's about it's seven or eight years now. Um, so you know, they, you can only go so far at that point, right? Um, Joanna and Michael.

[00:30:00] Matt: No, definitely

[00:30:01] Samantha: did it Ricardo and Yulia did it like you have the 7, 8, 9, 10 time undefeated champions, but let the kids have a shot

[00:30:11] Matt: you're right. You're right. And I think that it's, I mean, I hate talking about other people, but, um, I feel like them. Yeah. I, I agree with my, with the people that I know in this industry, when they say, when they're gonna retire, it's gonna make the whole rhythm world flourish.

[00:30:35] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:30:35] Matt: Riccardo and Yulia, Um, represent a slightly different thing because they're ahead and they're the best in something that it, so they can ju they can only be an example. So if it was just because they're, they already hit their forties. If they were in their 35s, I wouldn't want them to retire ever, because still to this day, noone in the today's final goes close to them.

So they represent like a, a very important model, which Natalie and Andre are. But at the same time, it was like more like a, something that is there. And there's so much more to Rhythm. It's it, it's there's more we can achieve, I think.

[00:31:28] Samantha: So. So going back to one of the comments you made, which is, you know, there are so many Cuban styles and Latin American based styles.

[00:31:40] Matt: Yeah.

[00:31:40] Samantha: From a social cultural perspective, not Latin American as in competitive ballroom dancesport, Latin, um, the, the, the majority of us in the dance sport industry are unaware of, or, or ignorant to, is there an argument, could an argument be made that perhaps we it's time to reevaluate the five dances in the American rhythm category and say, okay, if, if we aren't making a distinction, a clear distinction between swing and jive, if we aren't making a clear distinction in the characteristic difference between International Chacha and American Chacha or International Rumba and American Rumba as it's danced and portrayed from a story perspective on the floor. Is there an opportunity to start bringing in other dance styles to make it a separate five dance experience?

[00:32:38] Matt: Mm, I would say yes and no. Um, I would say yes and no, because again, there's so much to Cuban culture. Um, you can make American Chacha look completely different, completely different. The other day I was at Embassy, I had a rhythm student, um, bronze, bronze student. And in the evening there were all the scholarships and this friend of mine, actually, she was, uh, Oxana, um, sorry, which is Tony's partner.

[00:33:15] Samantha: Mm-hmm .

[00:33:16] Matt: She goes out with this man. African American man, his man, his name is Michael.

[00:33:21] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:33:21] Matt: He's Chacha. I was like, that's the Chacha that I wanna see. That's the Chacha that I wanna see. They were, they were dancing guajira, which is, I think one of the most important movement of Chacha. And I was like, finally, I was like, if they, if they dance, they could be in the open final for the Chacha.

The Chacha was like, that's the, so you can make a Chacha look completely different. You can make an American Rumba completely different. It's true that they have the same name, but you could really like, there's so much. I feel like they really try to make it look like Latin because Latin is, what's very important.

Um, they should, I, I feel like you keep all the dances and just really, if you call it American rhythm, take the rhythm from America, from central America and make it a completely different thing. Yeah. That's, that's why Tony and I wanted to kinda EDU educate. I don't wanna talk in a way, like, it's not like IM the best in mambo, but it was like enough to be raised artistically in a cultured place.

Uh, plus when I started working as a, as a taxi here, it's called taxi dancer. And in Italy, basically in the club, you're hired by the owner and you dance with the ladies. Like all my colleagues were all Doos or from Peru. So like they taught, they showed me and they taught me what real dancing is, uh, for concerns, SA salsa, two Mambo break on six, all those dances.

Um, and, uh, Again, there's so much you can pull from, they should use those things and not try to make it look like it's Latin because people then wanna just wanna do Latin. At least I have the glory to be a Latin champion, another rhythm champion. I, I don't think they should. Uh, ah, I want you to tell another thing that you ask me, the characteristics of mambo. Another important characteristic of mambo is that there's not that much of dancing together. It's more side by side. It's more side by side or one in front of each other. Almost not touching is not just mambo also salsa. There's a lot of shines. I, I, I'm sure you're familiar with salsa shines.

[00:35:55] Samantha: Yep.

[00:35:56] Matt: Because a lot of the footwork, because you wanna hit all the, requintos, all the accents, all the, everything, and it's hard to do it leading somebody. So you just wanna do it by yourself. There's a lot of that. And they're trying to. Do promende runs in some, in, in mambo, why

[00:36:20] Samantha: to show lead and follow to try and hide the fact that it's all choreographed, even though we all know it's choreographed.

[00:36:29] Matt: And then I'm, I'm also like, um, very much into this Cuban dancing is very circular where Latin American dancing is more linear. Let's say the couple is not doing this. The couple does this or this or this. Um, there's not much going around, so that's for me. Another characteristic of Chacha.

[00:36:55] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:36:56] Matt: Chacha shouldn't be like rolling off the arms. Roll in. Rolling off the arms. Roll in. Um, side by side sliding doors in rumba. Like the couple is constantly that's again, one of the most important, oh, the sun came out. You see, I'm talking about Cuba and the sun is. So, um, the couple is constantly going around each other.

[00:37:17] Samantha: Yeah, just for our podcast listeners. Um, because we're, we're doing this as both video and, uh, audio only, um, what Matt was just demonstrating was essentially, if you imagine like a funnel or any circular rotation, um, for like your Waltz, for instance, imagine the circular action of a Waltz that as opposed to something like a west coast swing or a hustle where it's just up and down the floorboards, very, very back and forth, very linear.

So, so you're saying something that's characteristic to the way that salsa and Mambo is really danced, is more the use of the space and use of the floor in a more dynamic way, rather than I'm walk. I'm walking forward, I'm walking backwards, I'm passing my partner. Now we're walking forwards and backwards. Is that?

[00:38:04] Matt: Absolutely. And in fact, one of the most important characters that your international Rumba is the rumba walk and walking means that you go forward and back there's. Nothing else to it. And since I started dancing Latin, every day I've been training to do rumba walk because then the rumba walk, if you have a good rumba walk, a perfect rumba walk, you can apply it to literally any dancing, Latin dancing, which implies that any dancing Latin dancing is either forward or back, right?

[00:38:40] Samantha: Yep.

[00:38:41] Matt: Well, in rumba, don't you, don't in rumba, sorry. In, uh, in the dances that come from Cuba it's all about circularity of the movement. There's no walk, it's more of a like cucaracha kind of feeling. If I can translate it into Latin language,

[00:39:00] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:39:00] Matt: it's more of a, um, in place circular movement with yourself and with your.

[00:39:10] Samantha: I wonder kind of thinking back to, to conversations that we've had with, uh, Cesar about rueda style. And also Jago talking a little bit more about the Salsa community. I wonder if that, if that stems from this idea of community involvement in dance, so it's not so much just like about the couple, but more as like the entire club, the entire casino, like how you're moving within each other that kind of embraces less linear movement.

[00:39:48] Matt: Wow

[00:39:49] Samantha: does that make sense? Am I on to something there am I completely wrong?

[00:39:52] Matt: That's very cool. That's a very, does that make sense? Uh,

[00:39:56] Samantha: I dunno, maybe I'm wrong there

[00:39:58] Matt: was, that was, that was that too deep. wow. That's actually, I never ever thought about it. So basically you're saying. Is the fact that it was a very big kind of community, uh, very like hugging community. Is that the reason why eventually the dancing came out being circular within the partnership? Uh, that could definitely be, that could definitely be, um, I honestly never thought about it. It's actually a very good way of seeing it. Um, I mean, as you were explaining earlier for our listeners in a way ballroom dancing has a lot of this going around each other. If you look at the videos from the fifties and the sixties of people dancing in the shag, the Lindy hop, the east coast swing, you know how they're like they're jumping around each other. It's they're little tornadoes. Um, I feel like this kind of, or when you dance, when you go to Mexico and you dance la banda, they're folk dance, they're, they're always dancing around each other.

So I feel like, uh, I'm not sure if it's something of the Latin American, Caribbean culture. I feel like in general, in any culture, there's this feeling of like going around each other? I feel like for Latin American dancing, um, in my perspective, Latin American dancing is an artificial dance in the sense that they, they took this dances from, uh, Latin America, from Spain, from France, and they just put a lot of ballet technique intp this, right. Where in, in ballet, you have to be completely straight, straight lines, lines, lines. And this brings the couple to dance online. Does it make sense?

[00:42:15] Samantha: Talking about international Latin,

[00:42:17] Matt: international, Latin? Yes. Um, because for example, in ballroom, my, my ballroom coaches always tell me in ballroom dancing, you either step forward or you step back, there's no side steps for ballroom. So for standard, I know that that's what they tell me. So

[00:42:39] Samantha: I, I understand it

[00:42:40] Matt: it works it works. It works for them. Uh, kind of, yeah, it works for me. Um, but I understand what they say because most of the times in ballroom dancing ballroom dancing is about movement. So a side step will stop the movement. So move forward, pivot, move back, or swivel forward and go back. So it's not about the step per se. At the end of the day, the couple is rotating and they're moving around each other. Right.

[00:43:11] Samantha: Mm-hmm ,

[00:43:14] Matt: it's not about the step. So I'm not saying that, um, the step in Latin, cuz you can do cucarachas to the side. Right? What I'm saying is like the couple is not circulating. Like it's not going because for me it's an artificial dance. Like they took these dances, they like the cha Chacha and they just put ballet technique into it. They fuse these dances together. Kinda like they were breeding a dog. I want a dog with this features to take the classic dog. The Latin dog and Latin American dancing was born.

[00:43:53] Samantha: I love the idea of describing Latin dancesport as the cockapoo of the dance world.

[00:43:58] Matt: Exactly. Yeah. That's, that's pretty much what it is. It's a cockapoo of, uh, of two different breeds. You know what I mean? Yeah. So it's not about the step per se. It's about the fact that everything in the couple is linear because you wanna respect the lines. You wanna respect the, you know what I mean? Even, even the sliding door, there is not even like a full, like there's this, this, this, this, yeah. There's no, yeah, you can make it more rotational, but at the end of the day, I bet you not at the end of whatever, um, sliding door, you're gonna finish with a line.

[00:44:39] Samantha: Yeah. Part of me wonders if that's, um, talking about kind of the manufactured aspect of it. I, if it's a readability thing, like from a judging perspective, it's much easier to see like how two people are interacting if you only work in one plane, but that kind of goes out the window when you look at something like standard or smooth where we're constantly rotating around each other.

[00:45:04] Matt: Exactly. So, no, I don't think it's, I don't think that's the reason.

[00:45:07] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:45:07] Matt: I'm just trying to think that probably, um, they were trying to make it standard for everybody

[00:45:15] Samantha: standardized yeah.

[00:45:16] Matt: So they were trying to have a manual with a syllabus. But again, this, I mean, this is 70 years ago now, maybe more maybe now eight, maybe a hun it's a hundred years ago when standard and Latin start to after this first world war

[00:45:32] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:45:33] Matt: when this, it wasn't social dancing pretty much anymore. Started to be competitive dancing. Uh, I think that we're just trying to make it, uh, the same for everybody, I guess that's the reason.

[00:45:48] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:45:49] Matt: Um, another, sorry. Another characteristic. Cause my brain is processing right now. Um, a cool thing about dancing in Cuba is that they have a lot of relationship with the floor in the sense that they use, not just side and forward as dimensions or are going around, they go on the floor a lot, not just they roll on the floor.

There's one couple very famous finalist couple they're always on the floor. Yes. That's one way to use the floor. I love how they dance. Perfect. What I mean is they go and they, they project to the floor a lot. There's a lot of dancing towards the floor. So kinda like a third dimension.

[00:46:46] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:46:46] Matt: so it's not just this and this. It's also using the depth.

[00:46:55] Samantha: Yeah. Which is, which is a different way of saying, or, or a different concept than dancing down into the floor, which is something that I, I heard a lot of when I was early training in, in, um, rhythm style talking about like that harsh Cuban action or that manufactured Cuban action is like really try to dance below the floor floor, put all of your weight and all of your energy down underneath the floorboards, which makes you very grounded. It also kills your feet after 40 hours.

[00:47:27] Matt: oh, absolutely. Mm. Again, Makes sense because that's what they wanna see. That's what they've been taught. So they come, I mean, they keep on, um, passing down to new generations, this being grounded, settle. Um, it works for Latin American international, Latin, you know,

[00:47:53] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:47:54] Matt: um, so yeah, definitely grounded. And I think that that works for every dance, but in using the floor in the sense that if you think that most of the dances from the Caribbeans were born in moments where people were slaves or they were in prison. So for example, why in the Cumbia or in some steps of mambo or salsa, you have to slide one foot? Because it comes from people were in prison and they had the, um, the ball

[00:48:35] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:48:35] Matt: of iron of lead, whatever.

[00:48:37] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:48:38] Matt: And they could only slide the foot to dance or a lot of steps in, uh, mambo, salsa cubana were you have to cut the grass or you mop the floor because they were born when people had nothing. And the only way to cheer themselves up was to dance.

So, so many things that they can take from, and they're not that's, that's the only thing. And, but now I'm getting interested now that I'm not dancing 10 dance anymore. And I started with like deeply into this Mambo project with Tony, I see ballroom dancing, so standard and Latin with a completely different set of eyes. Like I can see how so many things are not natural at all. Actually, most of it is not natural.

[00:49:34] Samantha: It's amazing. The, the light bulb moments that you start having, when you start asking a simple why, right? Like why do I do this? Why, why are we being taught to do a certain thing a certain way? Or why did I just tell my student to do this thing a certain way? Does it act, is it, is it grounded in something maybe it is, and that's great. And then we keep it. But if you can't figure out the why it's like, it starts to no at you. And you're like, I need to find someone that understands why it is that the way that we're doing it.

[00:50:11] Matt: I will, I really would like to know why. I mean, I know, and all my, all my coaches that are telling me it's all about beauty. From the outside people have to see beauty and there's different contrast to beauty. There's, uh, roughness with the grace and there's a dynamic and then slowing down. But at the end of the day, everything has to look beautiful. Like it has to be beautiful, balanced, elegant. So probably makes sense why everything has to be both in ballroom and Latin, within a certain sets of steps and everything has to be following some certain lines.

Um, but that's for that, that's for ballroom and Latin, I feel like rhythm can take its completely different path. Smooth has taken its path. There's a lot of, I I've, I've talked so much with Viktorija and I know that you interviewed her and she's so much into this, bring the tradition of ballroom dancing back into smooth. Cause now you see the smooth where either final or something and you see people doing even more and more Latin things or social like, um, swing stuff.

Uh, and nobody's doing what I think Nick and Viktorija have tried to do in these years, which is keep the principles of ballroom. Um, so I feel like I wanna try to do that for rhythm and I'm getting interested like now again, now that I'm not dancing 10 dance anymore and I'm not planning to, because I'm seeing things really with a different light.

And I see how everything is, um, forced and so far away for what my body wants to do. Um, I guess that if I would start to do Latin to do rhythm and, and smooth. Um, many thing of my ballroom training will, will stay, but especially for our concerns rhythm, I will wanna put my Cuban steps for sure.

[00:52:26] Samantha: Yeah. When did you start dancing? What, at what age?

[00:52:33] Matt: Around nine or 10.

[00:52:34] Samantha: Okay.

[00:52:35] Matt: Uh, I think, I would think it was in my ninth year going through my 10th year. It was September, 2003, I think

[00:52:44] Samantha: it's, it's kind of funny how, and I'll just speak from personal experience. How we let, how I, I'll personalize this, how I have let industry expectations of what someone with my body type should be drawn to, impact my own ability to know what feels good in my body. A and what I mean by that is to say like, I thoroughly enjoy smooth and I am very happy as a smooth dancer. There is not an inch of me at this moment in time that would wanna do standard cuz every experience that I've had with standard, it doesn't feel good in my body.

On the other side, I really enjoy dancing rhythm, but there is not a single judge that is going to look at somebody that's 5'10" and awkward and, and be like, yeah, you deserve to be in the finals in rhythm. Like that's, that's not the image of a rhythm dancer on the, on the competition floor that we currently have. Um, but

[00:53:56] Matt: so basically you're saying, um, what your body looks like should determine what you're good at?

[00:54:00] Samantha: No, I'm saying the perception of what your body looks like closes doors and opens doors for you.

[00:54:11] Matt: Okay.

[00:54:12] Samantha: Because I've listened so closely to what those closed doors and open doors have told me. I have lost touch with what actually feels good in my body. And, and over the years, I feel like you, because we all age differently, we all have different baggage that we take with us. We all have different stories that we take with us, like things change. So maybe something that felt really good as an 18 year old for me to dance competitively, doesn't feel great anymore as a 31 year old or a 32 year old.

So I love the fact that you're like taking a step away from 10 dance and being like, I'm, I'm really enjoying Mambo now and I'm liking performing it. And I could see my myself competing in rhythm if I do it in a different way, cuz it feels good for me. And that's what I wanna do instead of continuing to focus on something that maybe the industry sees me being good at, but isn't necessarily where my heart's taking me at the moment.

[00:55:14] Matt: Absolutely agree with you. Um, I feel like eventually if you're just suffering dancing something and there's something else that is making you feel better, why are you trying to suffer? Like for what what's, uh, what's, uh, not just physically, like, especially emotionally and psychologically, like, why are you suffering?

I think that many people mentally are built in a certain way and, um, and also their bodies built in a certain way. So if they started dancing standard and Latin since they were very small, and maybe they're Russian , or maybe they're from Eastern Europe where everything is almost mathematical and disciplined, you get to today where everybody in the final comes from that background of discipline discipline. If you wanna win, you need to, um, suffer when you need to suffer.

And, but then I talked to people, oh, uh, or for example, my coach who one Blackpool, my ballroom coach who won Blackpool and told me never when I was dancing, I was having fun. Never. When I competed, I was having fun. The most stressful moments of my life were in the, when I was having, when I was not having fun. And I was just working hard, even in the last dance that I did when I won Blackpool, I was not having fun. But the, um, let's say the happiness and everything came when I won. So one part of me is telling me if you work hard and if you suffer, you're gonna have results. But then I know, but for example, my Latin coach and she as well won everything, she's telling me no, when I was competing, I was having the most fun ever, and she was as successful. So that's what I'm saying. Some people are mentally wired in a certain way. They need to suffer to get there. Some people like me, I need to have fun to get there.

So I see these two things, which is me being wired in a way where I need to have fun. I need to enjoy. And if you watch all the Italians dancing in history, the, the people that were successful are people that were having fun. You can see, even if they're dancing, ballroom, they're having so much fun. Um, and they're bringing something that didn't exist before.

Like look at, uh, William Pino was my teacher. Look at Gozzoli. Look at Paolo Bosco. Like they bring something that was unprecedented and they were having fun. And now looking at ballroom and looking at Latin, I feel like there's, I wouldn't have fun. There's nothing I would bring. I could have fun and could bring something new dancing, maybe rhythm and smooth, and I would have fun.

So because of, because of how I'm wired and because of how I grew up and where I grew up in a place where salsa and bachata and mambo, where there, I feel like Latin, it's like I can see them working so hard to do such unnatural steps. Of course I was always sore. I mean, I was doing things that are not very natural. Um, there's much more natural naturality in dancing mambo.

[00:59:09] Samantha: So. As this episode comes to a close, I wanna cycle all the way back to the very beginning and something you said, which is 10 dance is my job, or was my job, but Mambo is where I have fun. And Mambo is what I'm passionate about.

[00:59:25] Matt: Right

[00:59:25] Samantha: so if you decide that at this junction in your career, let's make a run at American rhythm where American smooth does that mean that you're also giving up a little bit of the love and the sincerity and the, the tenderness that you have towards it in order to make it your job.

[00:59:47] Matt: You're so smart. You're so smart because you hit the spots. Um, that's why I haven't really decided to do anything yet in terms of smooth and rhythm, because I know that once you start competing, You also need to start do things that you don't really want, like taking lessons with people that you don't really wanna take lessons with. uh, do competitions that you don't really wanna do start to, you know, enter a cycle of things that are not super, um, comfortable.

That's part of being a competitive dancer and a professional dancer. So I wouldn't want that my, like, I would start hating my passion, you know, cause if I decide to do dance rhythm, which truly makes me happy and then it's all ruined by this whole that's call it politics, but is all stress of competing.

Cause now Mambo for me, it's competition and it's so stressful now. So I'm not sure, uh, if I will decide it means that I will have, um, matured in a way that I will never lose my passion and I will actually put together work and passion. Um, I do love ballroom. I do love Latin. I'm still dancing it. I'm doing shows, my students.

So I, I forever, I like to dance. I like to dance anything. It just so happened that happens that mambo and salsa were part of my childhood and my imprinting into, I mean, there's a funny story when I was doing my first competitions in salsa, bachata, uh, my teachers were from Cuba, two siblings, and now they live in Miami.

Um, two siblings, super funky kids. Um, so we do our little competition at the end of the comp, um, they announce that there's a show from a famous Latin American couple. World champion, Italian champions, world champions. They walk in and they're gonna dance for you a rumba. And my, and both the two guys they're twins, they turn around and say, oh, now we're gonna see the rumba.

Now we're gonna see the rumba. And they play an international rumba, which first of all, that music, that genre is called bolero. So they were like, this is bolero. And then they dance this weird dance. And they were like, what the heck is this? What the heck is? This is not rumba because they taught me that the rumba is a completely different dance.

Right? So they were shocked. And then years later, when I actually started dancing at rumba, I was like, ah, that's what they were dancing. They were dancing this weird, straight like dance. So to recap, before I decide to do it, I wanna make sure to actually dance, smooth and rhythm. I wanna make sure that I'm in a place mentally where anything that happens is not gonna affect my passion.

[01:03:08] Samantha: I like that. I think that, that

[01:03:10] Matt: are you competing? Are you still com are you competing with

[01:03:14] Samantha: well,

[01:03:15] Matt: professionally?

[01:03:15] Samantha: Uh, yes. So, well kind of quasi. Yes, yes, yes. Um,

[01:03:22] Matt: that yes sounds like a no, but

[01:03:25] Samantha: that is a, um, I am competing professionally with, um, an amazing friend of mine, Christian Alva. We've we've gone to a whopping two competitions thus far this year. So we made our debut in pro smooth, and then we followed it up with a, a subsequent event, but we

[01:03:44] Matt: oh, wow.

[01:03:46] Samantha: are attempting to only compete for fun and to avoid all of the political drama that we can possibly do. So, so we are competing because we want to, because we wanna learn from it because it's part of the dance journey. Um, and you know, if, if we can, we have students that are interested in competing a little bit more frequently. So, so doing that in addition to taking students is kind of the ultimate goal, but, um, yeah, we are, we are trying to avoid all of the stress and all of the subtext that you just talked about. so wish us luck on that.

[01:04:28] Matt: Absolutely. I mean, I wish you guys are gonna keep dancing in that way, because really it's hard. I mean, uh, I don't know if you're competitive, like you're a competitive person, um, and you are.

[01:04:47] Samantha: Just just a teeny, teeny, tiny bit. I'm just a little type a, like compulsive you're a lot of,

[01:04:54] Matt: you're a lot competitive. So that, that means that it's even harder for you to just keep it as for fun.

[01:05:01] Samantha: Oh, yeah. A little behind the scenes for folks. Both the first competition and the second competition. I apologize to anybody that I might have run into because the, the five minutes where everyone out, like all of my fellow competitors, my partner, they're all in the back of the ballroom, like stretching and warming up and going through their routines, and I just have both of my hands on the back of a chair, like with my eyes closed, looking at the ground and I'm repeating to myself. It's for fun. It's for fun. It's for fun. It's for fun. Because otherwise like the anxiety and the stress of competing and performing would've totally like knocked me outta the game. So I, I, my mantra for all of these events now is like, it's for fun. You're doing this because you enjoy it and it's for fun.

[01:05:52] Matt: and is it working for you?

[01:05:54] Samantha: Yeah.

[01:05:55] Matt: Do you feel like it's working?

[01:05:56] Samantha: Yeah. I mean, you know, we're only two in ask me again in another six months.

[01:06:03] Matt: all right. What comes did you do? Um,

[01:06:06] Samantha: so we debuted at Colorado star ball, and then we just got back from NV ball.

[01:06:13] Matt: Oh, you did NV ball.

[01:06:15] Samantha: It was really nice. It was really nice.

[01:06:21] Matt: at the Mirage

[01:06:22] Samantha: at the Mirage, not the best hotel rooms, but that's cuz the Mirage is ancient and it's desperate for a revamp, but the, the way that they set up the ballroom, um Vartan and Lana,

[01:06:33] Matt: but wait a second because you were in the lower level of the Mirage. If you go upstairs, like big time upstairs, there's nicer, nicer rooms.

[01:06:42] Samantha: Well, my tower hotel room, I guess just needed upgraded. Um, we'll we'll put it that way

[01:06:51] Matt: probably.

[01:06:51] Samantha: Yeah, maybe, but, but yeah, they set up the ballroom really nice. The vendor area was really nice. I heard good things about how they were treating the ProAm competitors during the day. We didn't take students to this one. Um, but pro show was really good. We got see Ina and Troels and they were killing it, so, yeah.

[01:07:12] Matt: That's beautiful. And what's your next comp?

[01:07:14] Samantha: TBD TBD. We had one on the schedule.

[01:07:18] Matt: To be destin?.

[01:07:20] Samantha: Uh,

[01:07:20] Matt: I was like. Okay. I know CBD

[01:07:23] Samantha: no, no, no.

[01:07:24] Matt: What's what's

[01:07:25] Samantha: to be determined. Um, we have a couple that we're looking at in the fall, but we're also a long distance partnership, so we're trying to figure out practice schedules and travel schedules and all of that, that craziness. So,

[01:07:40] Matt: oh, good luck.

[01:07:41] Samantha: Yeah. Um, obviously I know where you're going next for Mambo championships, but what else is on your fall to do list? What else you got coming up?

[01:07:54] Matt: So we're shooting for the world salsa championship in, uh, Puerto Rico. Um, and then, I don't know, uh, you know, there's some, I would like to do some, when I split with Taya, I was like, okay, let's try to do something else. Something else that the ballroom world can offer. So I was like, I can do dancing with the stars. I could do some shows on stage, um, maybe something in Vegas and then this mambo championship thing came out. So I was like, wow, cool. Now let's do this. But at the same time I was doing, I was helping some friends with their gigs, uh, in California. Um, so I don't know. Uh, I really don't know. And then I post video of Tony and I doing that little salsa,

[01:08:48] Samantha: the Jack, Jill,

[01:08:49] Matt: some, some judges were like, you should Ray them, you should Ray them. Why don't you Ray them? You should just smooth. So I could, I know that I could do anything. I know that I can do anything. I know that our brain is wired to just choose something and then redirect, rather than being in this area, gray area of, I don't know what to do. Can I should do this? Should I do that? I know let's wait. So I feel like if I wanna start dancing smooth and read them, I have to start with the, with the beginning of the season.

[01:09:26] Samantha: Mm.

[01:09:27] Matt: Um, but you know, you never know, it's not up to me at the end of the day. Like, um, what's gonna happen. I try to do dancing with the stars, it didn't work. And my, uh, teacher who's been an designer for 15 years told you know what? I think it's, you're lucky that you didn't get in. All right. Um, Mambo championship probably is the best you should do now.

My ballroom coaches were like, yeah, one of them was like, probably should do ballroom. And the other one was like, do whatever your heart wants to do. so I was like, okay, I'll try to do anything. Anything I can, we will see it's life is so exciting. Like you can literally do anything you want.

[01:10:10] Samantha: Yep.

[01:10:10] Matt: When you stop. And I was talking to Tony about this a few days ago, when you stop believing in fear and feeding into fear. And actually you're like, who cares? Do anything you want? Uh, you're gonna be successful anyway. It's gonna be amazing anyway. So I really, I really like where I am right now. I'm very excited.

[01:10:36] Samantha: that's awesome.

[01:10:37] Matt: I, I wish you could see us. Uh, I USDC,

[01:10:40] Samantha: I, I imagine there will be a video or two posted online. I have to believe that someone's gonna record it either professionally or on their iPhone and, and that video will make its way around.

[01:10:53] Matt: Yeah. But when it's live, it's better.

[01:10:55] Samantha: I know, I know, I know USDC was not in the cards for us this year, but at another event, at some point, I'm sure our paths will cross

[01:11:05] Matt: it's even possible that we're gonna dance our mambo, our Mambo routine at some, you know, maybe show dance comp. Just to participate in some, I don't know, we might

[01:11:16] Samantha: do it as a show piece at Ohio.

[01:11:21] Matt: Mm. Is, is it possible?

[01:11:24] Samantha: Sure. Right. They've gotta have, have a solo or theater arts or cabaret. I know it doesn't I know it's not technically theater or cabaret, but like who cares?

[01:11:39] Matt: I don't know. We, we should look into it. I, I dunno. It's interesting. I don't know. I don't know what we're gonna do. Let's um, accomplish this mission and then we will see whatever, not too much pressure. You're just a lot of fun. Uh, it's gonna be interesting to see the judges' reaction when a male couple will dance in the floor of USDC. It's gonna be interesting.

I'm very. You know, for a few nights in the past month, I haven't slept because I'm so excited to finally do something that I wanna do. And not just because mambo, they dance, the karaoke step or the promenade run. It's not gonna be mambo, you know?

[01:12:26] Samantha: Yeah. I'm, I'm so excited for you. I, I can't wait to see like the end result and Ugh, I wanna see you guys dance like everywhere now. I'm, I'm excited. I'm very excited.

[01:12:37] Matt: Oh, I, I, I really hope we're gonna see us live. Um, tonight we perform at the Grenada in which is a historical club. Um, and we will see, I know for sure, um, that if I will start doing rhythm, I will call Natalie and Andre. And I want them to coach me because I really, um, their show like their sh literally their show people.

Yeah. And, uh, I'm gonna miss them because the way that they light up the place, I want that when I perform I'm like them for real. Um, so I'm excited to see them during their last dance, I guess, at USDC, I'm excited to do my first dance at USDC as a mambo dancer. So much to unpack.

[01:13:37] Samantha: it'll be an exciting week for sure. Well, awesome. Well, thank you, Matt so much for being a guest on today's podcast.

[01:13:44] Matt: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

[01:13:47] Samantha: Thank you. Once again to Matt for being a guest on today's episode, if you want to follow along with his dance journey and support, um, his dancing moving forward, you can do so using the links in the description box below.

As always I'm Samantha, I've been your host with Love Live Dance. You can follow the Ballroom Chat podcast on Facebook and Instagram at ballroom chat. You can also support the podcast if you wish to do so by becoming a patron at patreon.com, just search for ballroom chat. We occasionally post behind the scenes interviews as well as additional information over there. And it really just helps support furthering the dance conversation with as many dancers as possible. So we really do appreciate your support.

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