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When and how did you meet?
We met while we were studying at UBC, taking extracurricular dance classes at the UBC Dance Club. This was over 15 years ago. Wow, that’s a long time ago! We were both bitten by the dance bug, ended up on the executive board of the club and then the rest is history.
How did you get involved with ballroom dance?
We both started dancing at the UBC Dance Club while studying towards our undergrad science degrees.
Clara: I used to watch ballroom dancing on TV with my dad. When I came across the UBC Dance Club, I knew it was something I had to do. I was involved in other forms of dance like Chinese dance and Jazz dance before that, but Ballroom really excited me!
Joel: I was out with some friends at an old run-down bar in downtown. It was called a “Gin & Sin” night, where people got dressed up, sipped martinis and danced to a small jazz band. It was really cool. I learned two things that night. 1. A gin martini is just too strong for me, 2. I needed to learn how to partner dance. Once school started again, I started taking lessons at the club.
What is your proudest moment to date?
As dance teachers we’re always proud whenever a student learns something new. Learning to dance and therefore teaching how to dance isn’t easy, so there’s always a great sense of accomplishment when something valuable is truly learned.
Clara: Dance lessons reflect life lessons in many ways, so when I’ve truly inspired someone and made a difference in his/her life, that for me is the greatest feeling.
Joel: As a Pro-Am dancer (a category in which I dance with my amateur student in competition with other Pro-Am couples), standing at the top of the podium and having ‘O Canada’ being played after we won the World Pro-Am Championships was pretty cool. Having your national anthem being played just for you is pretty darn special.
If you didn’t have a career in dance, what might you be doing?
Clara: I would be an Occupational Therapist. That is what I studied at UBC before ballroom took hold of my life. I actually skipped my graduation to make the pilgrimage to Blackpool, where the best of the best dancers gather to compete for the British Open title. Boy, was that worth it!
Joel: Tough to say. I was at cross-roads at the end of my undergrad. Although I finished with a B.Sc., I was basically doing a minor in Commerce. My guess is I’d be in Marketing or Advertising, something technical yet creative. My friends though would say that I’d have become some sort of motivational speaker.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
That we do actually wear jeans and hoodies! Being ballroom dancers, we’re always dressed a certain way, and everyone just sees us in our ‘uniforms’. When they do see us outside of the ballroom, which is very rare, they’re surprised to see us in our non-work clothes. Even some teachers at the ballroom joke when they see us in our ‘civilian’ clothes!
What do you think about the popularity of dance reality shows?
Clara: It’s great to get ballroom out there, but I don’t think it necessarily gets more people motivated to learn how to dance.
Joel: In a way, people get their fill of dance by watching it on TV. It’s easy and accessible. Therefore they don’t need to go out and search for it themselves around town, whether it is to try out a dance class or to go watch a performance. Hopefully through Discover Dance!, people will be motivated to come out and try ballroom!
What is your next project?
We’re involved in the Workout to Conquer Cancer, so we’re planning a handful of classes and events to help raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. We’ve been affected by cancer through family, friends, colleagues and students, so it’s a cause we feel very strongly about. If you’d like to learn how to dance ballroom, have some fun and donate to a great cause, please check us out!
Joel and Clara Marasigan are former ballroom champions who have trained and competed internationally. They founded JC Dance Co. in Vancouver in 2006, and offer classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced and competitive dancers. On Thursday March 12, they, their performance team and their competitive ballroom dance students perform as part of The Dance Centre’s Discover Dance! noon hour series.
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