Michelle Loewenstein
4 minute read
21 Feb 2014
6:00 am

Dance your way to good health

Michelle Loewenstein

When a couple of young girls pop into Dance Cultur3 during break-time, Quintus Jansen happily ushers them in so they have a spot to eat their school lunch.

Quintus Jansen shows Chanté Menego a few steps. Pictures: Valentina Nicol.

The girls are Jansen’s students and seem to be more than at home at the dance studio. They tease him during his shoot with our photographer and then jump at the opportunity to have their pictures taken with him for the paper.

Jansen focuses a lot of attention on youth development, and his interaction with the two spunky young dancers shows that he practices what he preaches.

“My aim is to have as many kids here as possible,” Jansen says. “I try to nurture them holistically. I make them realise that they are people first and dancers second. Coming first is great, but winning is achieving your objectives. And I help them to set their goals realistically. I opened this studio here because it is a family area.

“Let’s face it: nowadays families can be quite dysfunctional. Kids come here to dance, and then their parents will often come and dance once or twice a week as well. It’s their date night. So we are able to influence a family positively.

“We also try to teach young kids to eat better, and they get to interact with other people instead of sitting in front of computer games all day. There’s also the etiquette involved – they learn to touch each other in a respectful way.

Being able to touch someone is so important. When you dance with someone you have to look them in the eye – and oh my goodness, how many people are actually able to do that?”

Jansen is best known for his role on Strictly Come Dancing, where he partnered celebs and taught them to shake what their mama’s gave them.

“When I started dancing it was just recreational. My mother said ‘you’re going to learn a bit of culture’,” Jansen recalls.

“When you start dancing professionally you treat yourself as an artistic athlete. Tests were done on different dancers when it became dance sport, and it was found at that level they had the fitness of an Olympic athlete. When I started doing corporate events, I found that I had to train hard to look the part.”

Quintus Jansen shows his dance partner a few steps. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

Quintus Jansen shows his dance partner a few steps. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

It’s not only the pros who have to be fit in order to tango and foxtrot. People who dance for fun also inadvertently end up stronger and healthier.

“At a social level, people often dance for four hours at a time. I can’t tell you exactly how fit they are, but their stamina is definitely high and they are quite toned. It doesn’t make them lean, but it will definitely tone them up. And we all know that dancers have great legs!” he says with a smile.

Tell your man you want him to join you for lessons at a dance studio and you’re sure to see him pale.

“People don’t realise how physically demanding it is to be a

dancer. I don’t understand why guys don’t want to dance. I often see men dragged here under duress. I literally think that it’s because they don’t know how. It’s like golf. If you don’t know the basics, you’ll hate it. You just have to learn the first basic steps. Guys will also come here and see their wives dancing with other men and don’t like it. I use the jealousy aspect as a positive,” he says with a chuckle.

“Culturally it’s not normal for men to dance. I usually use something like hip-hop, which is seen as cool, as a gateway to other dances. I’ll then say: ok your posture needs work, why don’t you do some Latin and ballroom? The guys also see the girls and then like it more. That’s what interested me when I was younger. I thought: hey, look at the chicks!”

Quintus Jansen shows his dance partner a few steps. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

Quintus Jansen shows his dance partner a few steps. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

Like all athletes or fitness enthusiasts, dancers have to be mindful of their bodies and how their lifestyle will affect their abilities. Jansen studied personal training and group class instruction in order to improve his skills.

“When you dance, it gives you a great sense of body awareness. It also forces you to drink a lot of water and to look after yourself,” he says.

“I always tell students to practice at home; just to set aside time to unwind. You need this in everyday life.”