Getting to Know Choreographer Matt Steffanina

[three_fifth padding=”0 10px 0 0″]Matt Steffanina is a world renowned dancer and choreographer. We’ve been inspired by his moves, so ZLife writer Jennifer Lauren sat down with him to learn more about what inspires him and his killer routines!

ZLife: When did you start dancing and what got you into it?
Matt: I started dancing when I was 18. At the time, I was training to be a professional snowboarder so I spent a lot of time at a gymnastics center working on tricks. I would see breakdancers practicing and thought it was cool, so I started learning a few moves and before I knew it I was auditioning for a hip hop crew and learning choreography.  

ZLife: Tell us a little about your dance career.
Matt: I moved to Los Angeles six years ago and the first couple years were really difficult. [/three_fifth][two_fifth_last]matt_thumb3[/two_fifth_last]

I had a lot of catching up to do since I started dancing so much later than everyone else, but I was determined. My first big job was on ‘The Tonight show with Jay Leno’ — he was one of my favorite comedians growing up. I got to play his body double in a couple skits. He even called my mom to say hi when I told him she was a huge fan. Other than that, I really enjoyed dancing with Chris Brown and Taylor Swift; they’re both hard workers and talented performers.

ZLife: How does being a dancer help you live a healthy lifestyle? 
Matt: I’ve always had active careers whether it was snowboarding, personal training, DJ’ing or dancing… I’m just really bad at sitting still! Dancing is a great career for staying in shape because whether I’m in a rehearsal, working with an artist or filming a video it’s always active and creative. The most difficult part is being on the road so often because it’s challenging to find healthy food options and stay committed to an exercise schedule. But, I have always felt strongly about making healthy choices when it comes to diet so I do the best I can.

ZLife: I hear you’ve taken a couple of Zumba classes in your day. What did you think of the experience? 
Matt: The gym that I was working at in 2006 was one of the first in my area to offer Zumba classes and the class was scheduled between the boot camp & hip hop cardio classes I was teaching. Salsa is one of my favorite styles, so when I heard that it was a mix of Latin dance and cardio I had to check it out – and I had a blast! I loved how the class was truly accessible to anyone, incorporated different styles of dance, and the music was so refreshing from the typical ‘workout remixes’. I remember watching early videos of Beto teaching and always loved his energy – it’s inspiring to see how many people the Zumba program has helped over the years.

ZLife: You’ve choreographed some killer routines… I may have danced along to a few in my living room. What routine did you choreograph that you’re most proud of?
Matt: I would have to say my routine to ‘Trap Queen’ is the one I’m the most proud of even though the choreography is fairly basic. It’s not only because it’s one of my most watched videos (+25 Million views!), but more importantly it’s my most learned routine of all time with thousands of cover videos that dancers around the world have posted of their own version of the choreo. Everywhere I’ve taught from New York City, to Buenos Aires, to Sydney, dancers that I’ve never met know the routine! I started the tutorial channel because I wanted to create a place online where people all over the world could learn and dance together… to see it come to life really has been a dream come true.


ZLife: What’s one thing we would be surprised to know about you? 

Matt: After teaching in South America a few times last year I was so inspired by the dancers and culture there that I’ve been learning Spanish. I’m still pretty slow, but my goal is to be able to teach a class completely in Spanish and start to make Spanish tutorials as well. Stay tuned!

Jennifer Lauren is a Zumba® instructor from New York. She blogs about teaching Zumba® and all things fitness at www.TheZBeat.com. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Jennifer Lauren

Jennifer Lauren is a Zumba® instructor from New York. She blogs about teaching Zumba® classes and all things fitness at www.TheZBeat.com.

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