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Chatting with dancer Cristina Hernandez

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Cristina, I’m a teacher, and I love coming to iDance, it’s my second home.

Awesome. How long have you been coming here for?

It’s been about 3 years, I believe.

And what are you favourite classes?

I come to almost all of them! I’m here about 2 hours a day, every day. So they’re all my favourites. I wouldn’t be able to pick. Every instructor brings something so special to their classes.

So I guess it would be hard for you to decide on your favourite instructor then too?

That is so difficult to because every single person has something special, they all make you feel very welcome here, and they’re all very different from each other. They’re all great.

What do you like about the dancehall class?

Alyssa [the instructor] is like a little spitfire. She’s the tiniest person ever but has the most energy ever. There’s just no way you can’t be dancing in her class, even though it’s a rule, you dance anyways. You want to.

Had you danced before you came here?

I’ve always danced, even as a little kid my parents put me into dance classes but it was always through rec centres. They didn’t want me to be serious about it, they wanted it to be fun. So I’ve always taken that attitude that is dance is just for fun. And before I’d come here I’d done Bollywood, which was my exclusive dance for about 7 years, and then I needed to change up my repertoire a little bit, let’s say.

Ok cool, and how did you find us?

I found it online actually, I believe. One of my other friends had found it and suggested it and so I came with her.

Awesome. So tell us about the classes you take.

I do the urban contemporary on the Mondays with Kassia…

What do you think of that class?

It’s a really interesting style. She’s really great at fusing the contemporary and the hip hop styles, so some days it’ll be really soft and other days it’ll be hard hitting. She always tells you to bring your shoes because you never know if it’s going to be more on the contemporary side or more on the hip hop side, so it’s always a surprise.

Then I do the jazz tech and jazz choreo on Tuesdays.

What are your thoughts on those classes?

I think right now the jazz tech is wonderful for me because I was never technically trained. It’s always been for fun, so I think I’ve improved so much in the six months that I’ve been taking the jazz tech with Bronwynn and with Colleen.

And the choreo?

I love the choreo! I always stay for the choreo. Both those teachers are just so fun and so peppy.

What would you say is the difference between the two of them in terms of their teaching styles?

It’s a really difficult question but they are very different, their styles. They both love dancehall so that often comes into the fusion, that style, but Colleen is really peppy and bubbly, and so is Bronwynn but she’s got a little extra sass to her.

And on Wednesdays?

I do the hip hop and the groove.

What do you think of Kayli’s hip hop on Wednesdays?

Kayli’s hip hop is great because she switches it up a lot. So you don’t really know what’s going to happen, what kind of hip hop she’s going to be doing. If it’s more hard hitting, sort of gangster rap song, or after she went to Mexico she did a Spanish infused kind of reggaeton type one.

Oh fun!

So you never know what you’re going to get, it’s often house inspired because she loves house so she has a lot of house inspired moves.

And the Wednesday groove class?

The groove is excellent. Stu is so great at being able to relate and verbalize what he’s doing with his own body so that you can try to mimic what he’s doing. And if you have any questions he’s so receptive to the questions, and if you ask him anything, he’ll stop, he’ll look at what you’re doing, and he’s really good at saying, “Well you’re doing this…” not in a critical way, just, “You’re doing this, if you want it to look like me this is what I’m doing with my body.” And I find that’s really difficult for a lot of instructors to be able to actually verbalize what they’re doing and what’s the difference.

That’s a huge part of what makes a good instructor. And you were making use of the open studio.

I have been making use to the open studio. Shout out to myself! [both laugh]. We’ve got a little group of us doing workouts.

What kind of stuff have you been doing?

We’ve been doing a sort of dancey workout, mostly cardio based, we go through different song styles that target different muscles groups, a really good bootcamp-style push-ups, sit-ups, strength at the end, and a good long stretch. And then I stay for bootcamp which kills me after that.

Yeah that’s intense! And what about Friday?

I love Roberta, I wish she was here every week. If you can make it to one of her [hip hop] classes she’s probably the best open-level instructor that we have. She’s really great at making it fun and interesting enough. But with choreography that everyone gets.

Yeah for sure. Do you come to the Feature Fridays?

I try to come as much as possible. They had the Bollywood which was great. They have twerkshops. I loved the cardio cabaret one that they did. It was so fun. They’ve had some really really great Feature Fridays.

Do you go to Rae's classes much?

Every week. I used to only go to the hip hop because I hate contemporary, but then I decided that contemporary would probably be good for me, again, learning that technique. And it has been good for me. I’m learning to like it. It’s still not my dance style.

Is it because you feel awkward or don’t like the style, or you don’t know what you’re doing...?

I definitely feel awkward. I definitely don’t know what I’m doing because I’m not technically trained so I feel really lost but I’m getting there. More than that, it’s that it’s usually a much slower style of dance and I need something a bit more dynamic.

Ok..but you’re still going!

Yeah I’m going because I’m learning a lot.

That’s great. And then the Saturday hip hop class with Rae, how do you like that?

Yeah then I go to hip hop. Rae is just such a bundle of energy. She’s the type of person where you’re joking in the class with her, so she makes you feel really comfortable.

Yeah she’s a lot of fun.

Sundays I usually go to Zumba. And Case has started his intermediate hip hop so I’ve been going to that. Case is great, and he always gives you a high five after class and tells you that you’ve done a good job.

What do you think of iDance?

I live here, it’s definitely my second home! It’s a real community here. A lot of the students have been coming for a long time. We know each other’s names and we actually go out together on the weekends or after class to get a burger. You know, Saturdays after sweating it out with Rae’s class, or whatever it is. And it’s nice to have that community and friends here. I feel like that doesn’t necessarily happen at other studios.

Yeah for sure. That’s what I love about it here.

Yeah it doesn’t happen at all the studios, it definitely happens here.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live here so I’m dancing all the time. [both laugh] When I’m not dancing I have a really neurotic bird that I have to take care of.

Oh really? What’s his name?

His name is Belen, it means Bethlehem, or nativity scene, in Spanish. We got her at Christmas. She’s old and she used to have a partner. The partner died and usually they die at the same time but she outlived her partner. She’s currently pushing 28 years old. Her life expectancy in captivity is 15 years so we don’t know when she’s going to die. And because she’s so old she can’t fly anymore. She’s broken her wing and her leg at this point so we have to carry her around everywhere, which would be great and cute if she wasn’t terrified of us, except she was traumatized as a baby so she’s scared of other people and the telephone, and some music, and basically life. We figured she’d be better to stay with us than take her to the vet when her partner died because she’s so afraid of people, and then she miraculously recovered.

Oh wow...Anything else you wanted to mention?

Oh yes, I wanted to talk about what makes iDance such a special place. I love that in class there are people who are awesome self-taught dancers, great technically trained dancers, people who’ve never taken a dance class before and even instructors taking other instructors’ classes, and yet when you’re there, none of that matters and we all just come together to enjoy the hour together with absolutely no judgment, just positivity. And a lot of credit and thanks to Amanda Hemmaway [the owner of iDance Vancouver]for making that happen!

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