By Samantha Yu
We’ve heard “I’m never going to date a dancer” and “dating dancers is the worst” too many times! Today is Valentine’s Day and we’re all about celebrating love! Especially love shared between dancers. We took the opportunity to chat with two role models when it comes to dance and maintaining a healthy relationship in this difficult industry, Leslie Hubilla and Michael Esteban. Listen to their thoughts on dating a dancer and you might just give that cute guy in your next class a second chance!
Leslie is a New Jersey native with performance and teaching experience all over the United States and Canada. She dances because movement is universal and can connect people with others and to music in amazing ways. Her dance credits include America’s Best Dance Crew with Fr3sh Dance Company, Sidra Bell Dance NY, Culture Shock Oakland and NY, and many more. She currently co-directs Funkanometry NY with her boyfriend of three and a half years, Michael.
Michael started his dance training in 2007 with Fr3sh Dance Company and has since taught and performed around the United States and in Canada. Hi dance credits include America’s Best Dance Crew with Fr3sh Dance Company, and Artistic Director of Dance Troupe, a Rutgers team that seeks to promote the art of dance and entertain audiences far and wide.
How did you first meet?
L: We met way before we started dating. Michael joined Fr3sh around the time I was coming back and forth from SF a lot. I think we first met when I went to my first rehearsal back on Fr3sh and we rode in the same car. I kept thinking, “Who is this cute guy coming with us to practice? Aren’t rehearsals closed?” Little did I know it was the same person I had met numerous times before. He looked different I swear.
M: I remember one of my first memories of her was during a performance Fr3sh did called Lakas Diwa in Jersey City. She ended up cameo-ing in the intro and I was like “who is this girl in a blue dress thinking she can just mess around, this set means a lot to me!!” (j/k) However, one of the first times I introduced myself to her was during a car ride to practice when she finally rejoined the team. She didn’t remember me. Nor does she remember this happening. lol
Tell us about your first date. Who asked who out?
L: Our first unofficial date was to get icees after we took a class 🙂 Not sure who asked who… I guess it was just a mutual desire for icees.
M: I remember asking her if she wanted to get icees at the corner. I paid 🙂
What has it been like dating each other and dancing together?
L: It’s been great being able to share something as important as dance with someone I’m in a relationship with. Dance is a huge part of our lives so it seems natural to share that part of our lives as well. It’s great because we support and push each other in dance. We talk about dance all the time… like all the time. My moments in dance have been difficult and amazing so it’s great to have someone there by your side in those times.
M: For me it was very natural because we were already Co-Artistic Directors on Fr3sh, so that part of our relationship was already set. I thought I was all cool and stuff dating an amazing dancer. But as time went on I found out that we thought and felt the same way about dance which helped dissipate any awkwardness.
What’s the best thing about dating a dancer?
L: They understand! There’s a level of trust and understanding that comes from dating a fellow dancer. The best thing is having someone as excited about dance as I am!
M: I spend 95% of my waking moments thinking about dance/dance related stuff – the other 5% being sports – so it’s cool to know that I have someone to always talk to about this and I know she won’t get bored of me.
What’s the most difficult thing about dating a dancer?
L: Um, not sure… Maybe that we’re both exhausted most of the time??
M: I don’t really see any downsides to dating another dancer. You share the same passion, have similar lifestyles/tastes, and communicating any of the life stuff is really easy. So I think everything’s amazing.
Tell us a little bit about Funkanometry NY and what it’s like co-directing. Is this your first time directing together? How do you make sure you maintain a professional relationship in the studio/at rehearsal?
L: We are so excited about the opportunity to direct Funkanometry NY! We have a great relationship with Emerson Aquino, one of the co-founders of Funkanometry SF, and are honored to have his trust and blessing in this new venture. This is actually our third time directing a company together. The key to maintaing a professional relationship in the studio or at rehearsal is the same as maintaing a relationship outside of the studio – communication. We’ve learned to always talk about everything and to share ideas. We keep our focus on the task at hand – running the company. We’re both passionate about the work we do so we put the effort into developing our working relationship just as much as our romantic one.
M: Directing Funkanometry NY has been wonderful and eye-opening. I haven’t been around a group of dancers this diverse and multifacted ever. Leslie helped me co-direct our last year leading RAPS Dance Troupe, a Rutgers (NB) collegiate team. We also co-directed during our time on Fr3sh. So we already knew how to work together. Honestly it’s pretty easy maintaining a professional relationship when you have so many responsibilities going on. Though, it did take some time to figure out.
What advice would you give to other dancer-dancer couples in order to create/maintain a healthy relationship?
L: Hmmm… don’t give up! There are trials in dating another dancer, but there are trials in dating in general. Being able to share a passion for something with your significant other is so amazing and worth it! And communication! But I guess that’s important in every healthy relationship.
M: We’ve learned that talking, talking, and talking helps build understanding, or at the very least respect, which builds trust. So just like any relationship – dancer-dancer or not – communication is key.