Teacher Spotlight: Meet Boris Khenzykhenov !

_MG_8394Spend five minutes with Boris and you’ll immediately be drawn in by his genuinely amiable and quietly confident personality. He’s welcoming and animated with a lively voice and spirit. He hails from Siberia, Russia initially and has been dancing with us in New York since October 2011.  He took his first steps in Ballroom and Latin dancing at the age of 7 and was a finalist at numerous regional dance championships in Russia. Most people look surprised when they hear him speak Russian or when they learn that he is Russian. This is because his ethnicity is Buryat – the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia, mainly concentrated around the lake Baikal. Growing up in rural Siberia, Boris was engrossed in the unique folk dances of his ancestors and has brought that cultural flair with him. He has traveled extensively around the world with his dancing and speaks Russian, German, Chinese and English.  Boris has been competing both with his students in pro/am and with this professional partner all around the country including 3 national competitions just last year!

We asked him what he attributes his success to and he replied “ dancing is not merely about movement- it’s about communication. For a long time I thought I was a great communicator, so I didn’t worry about what I said to my students while we were dancing, the conversational part. But there is so much information to tell and I was trying to hard! I realized that in order to reach my students, I needed to see things like a new dancer. There’s this huge gap between what they see and feel themselves doing, and what they observe other more experienced dancer doing. I realized that what I needed to do was embrace the robotocism and awkwardness that new dancers feel in order to help them move beyond that stage. This has helped me to become a better teacher to my students and to help them surpass their goals not only on the dance floor but also off.

IMG_3470Weather you’re a student or a professional, to get as good as you can possibly be, we’ve sometimes got to grit our teeth and push through those awkward and difficult moments to the break through on the other side. This is also true about life.  I love seeing people have that “breakthrough” moment. That is actually one of my favorite things about teaching dance. I feel so inspired when I can help someone overcome what yesterday seemed impossible. It’s a beautiful feeling and has made this a tremendously rewarding career.”

“I can hardly claim to have accomplished all I have by myself though! I’ve had A-LOT of help! Being in New York has given me the opportunity to work with some of the finest coaches in the world and I have been truly fortunate to have so many talented, driven and warm hearted students.”

One of Boris’d dreams is to bring the benefits of ballroom dancing to the public school system.  He says that “as well as offering important building blocks for life, ballroom dancing has a closeness which is vital for healthy physical interaction and mental development. “