Interview with Sophia in Sapphire Dance Studio
Aired on the Sex and Money Show KLAV 1230 AM with Host Magic Al Jensen (transcript below).
AL: I’d like welcome to the Sex and Money show, Sophia in Sapphire. Sophia, welcome! Delighted that you’re here. Now Sophia, you are a competitive dancer, you are a dance instructor, dance coach. I mean, a competitive dancer– that’s awesome!
SOPHIA: Yes, it takes a lot out of you, but its quite exciting! It’s what gives me the passion to do what I do.
AL: So tell us, what reason do people generally have, to want to get out there and dance?
SOPHIA: One of the reasons is if you’re getting married—that means you will be dance partners for the rest of your life! Aside from that, though, there are other reasons people get out there to dance, like especially to engage in social life, to reconnect with another human being, or a special someone. Exercise is a big one—A lot of times exercise is a tedious thing to do, but when you are connecting with someone and laughing, you don’t even notice.
AL: You say dancing is transformative. What does that mean?
SOPHIA: Dancing is like a natural medicine. A lot of people work so much and get off track with their health; they get depressed, are not inspired, don’t have a social life, etc. Dance forces you to experience those natural benefits. Dance naturally releases an endorphin surge. It makes people feel good, they get to reconnect, listen to great music, enjoy dancing which is visually stimulating… its beautiful! And, you are dancing with another human being. The thing is, dance has been around for hundreds of years. It’s been a hobby of many people, since the beginning of time, so it’s significance is really large. And the thing is, as we progress with technology, we are getting so out of touch. And we are losing something big.
AL: Tell us what some of the big benefits of taking wedding dance lessons from you would be.
SOPHIA: One thing we focus on at Sophia in Sapphire is making dance not a one-time thing. I mean the First Dance is one of the first opportunities for you to be on the dance floor, but I try to take an angle of applying it to regular real life situations. What you learn with us at SIS is not only to dance your first wedding dance, but we address important things like– how do you dip, how do you do a regular twirl in real life. We make sure that what you do invest in your dancing lessons before the wedding stays with you after the wedding.
AL: You have written an article here in the Perfect Wedding Guide, the Winter addition. You indicated there that one of the Top 5 Benefits of Wedding Dance lessons is to de-stress before your wedding; to laugh at yourself and be able to have fun. What does that mean?
SOPHIA: Planning for a wedding is one of the most stressful things, and there’s so much to do— there are deadlines, there’s running around, and a lot of times we get disconnected from our partner and a we don’t have a date night anymore. So what I like to encourage my couples to do is to take a breather— to make their dance lesson their date night. Come in and laugh at each other, create a hobby to share, and take on the challenge; learn to dance!
AL: So you’re going to give about ten or twelve dance lessons ideally, before the wedding night?
SOPHIA: Right. Ideally, around 10 is a good number. The thing is—we make sure that the wedding dances are tailored to the personality of our couple. Sometimes its’ crazy, sometimes its traditional, or hip, or whatever. We’ve father-daughters and mothers-sons come in and even entire bridal parties. We’ve had requests for extravagant Dancing with the Stars routines which took 30-40 lessons or requests for a dance number that was more simple and polished looking with 6-10 lessons. So it really depends on the vision and time constraints. When we figure that out, we take it from there.
AL: Is it best to work with couples months in advance?
SOPHIA: Actually, the best time to start is probably at least three to six months before the wedding. It takes muscle memory; you never want to jump into something and overnight think that you got it. Nobody is used to moving around on the dancefloor confidently, so it takes some practice and time.
AL: So what’s the typical schedule?
SOPHIA: That again depends on the vision and how complicated the dance is. The more often you do it in the beginning, the better. When you can get the muscle memory in, you could always taper off with your lessons. When you start dancing lessons, I’d recommend that if you could take lessons a couple times a week, that’s great, and then taper off as you get closer to the wedding day. That way you don’t have to stress about it— You will feel good and then be able to practice on your own. Practice is very important.
BOB: Are there people that just don’t have rhythm? There is just no way that they would be able to dance?
SOPHIA: There are people that don’t have rhythm, but they still look good after taking dance lessons because there are tricks. There are tricks to looking good on the dance floor, and there are strategies. One trick is– you dont stop moving. When in doubt, you march it out. Kind of like “Fake it till you make it”. It’s just being confident and enjoying the experience, so that is the primary goal.
AL: Tell us about your Peace Corps experience and what did you do there?
SOPHIA: I served in Ukraine, in a village called a Pochaiv. I lived in a tiny village— dirt roads, few amenities, and also with a goat. It was a major decision and commitment—it’s almost 2 ½ years. My drive was to give back; I was young, healthy, and I wanted to put myself out there and see what skills I could use to help others. There were a lot of grassroots projects I participated in. I was an English teacher. I also revitalized Cultural Arts and Dance projects and did so many things that seemed impossible. But, you just throw yourself at the opportunities, and try to make something happen out of nothing.
AL: How did the Peace Corps inspire you to pursue your dream?
SOPHIA: I realized a lot during my service. For example, people in other countries don’t have the opportunity to do what we can do here in the states. Not everyone has education opportunities, not everyone can be anything they want to be. However, they do have each other and strong relationships. So I came back to the US and I thought to myself—You know, I can do anything in this country, and there is no reason why I can’t pursue my dream, which was to dance and share the benefits of dance with others. To be honest, I’ve been holding it back for a very long time. I avoided pursuing dance as much as I could, and rationalized against it for the longest time. But, after seeing the healing benefits of dance and how therapeutic and transformative it really is in our everyday American lives, I just had to make it my life. Now I give back to my own country through dance. This is my service after the Peace Corps—giving people their lives back through dance!
AL: So tell us about the name “Sophia in Sapphire”.
SOPHIA: The world that we enter when we are on the dance floor—It’s like we emulate the brilliance of jewels. Like gems sparkling on the dance floor… it’s another world. What you feel—that surge of endorphins, is really amazing. So for a lack of a better term, I decided “Sophia in Sapphire” had a ring of intrigue to it, and sounded captivating enough.
BOB: You are an instructor of course, but what about your own performance?
SOPHIA: One of the reasons I moved out to Vegas was to pursue a competitive dance career with my professional dance partner. We are starting to compete nationally. These are ballroom dance competitions, and we are focusing in Rhythm (Latin Dances): Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero and Mambo. Every day we train for hours, coach, take lessons too… similar to an Olympic athlete. Meanwhile, still instructing, managing business, hosting the “Do You Wanna Dance” Radio Show, setting up Meetups, performances, and dance field trips for students, and many more projects to come!
BOB: So who is your coach?
SOPHIA: My dance partner and I work with a few very high caliber professionals in the area and also out of state. There are also famous, talented and epic Ballroom Dance coaches that visit Las Vegas quite often, so when they come here we make sure to see them.
AL: Is it ok to have the woman lead?
SOPHIA: The thing is, dancing is a conversation. Every dance has one leader and one follower, and both roles have equally important, yet separate functions. In every partnership there is one leader and one follower, so that’s what it comes down to. It’s not a domination or submission sort of thing; it is a give and take. That is the beauty of dancing—because what you learn in dance correlates to real life situations and becomes a conversation, you have to to listen to each other. That’s why it heals relationships; it’s another language to communicate in, and words will not get in the way. That’s why people reconnect, because they have body language to communicate positive things to each other.
AL: Where can people take lessons from you?
SOPHIA: We are located all over the San Francisco Bay Area and Las Vegas, and we are mobile. Depending on where our students are, we find studio space closest to them. So, get in touch with us and we will make sure to find a location closest to you.
AL: Anyone you want to shout out to?
SOPHIA: I shout out to all of those who are courageous enough to take the first step and take on the challenge of learning how to dance. That’s the hardest thing. It’s the most fulfilling thing for me to see, for someone to make this decision to do something scary, give it a try and stick with it for a bit, and then be able to transform their life in wonderful ways!
AL: Thank you so much for joining us today on the Sex and Money show, Sophia. It was a pleasure to have you!
SOPHIA: Thank you so much!