Our next interview in the series is with Rob Gregg. Rob has been inspiring young dancers around schools in London and also in his hometown of Eastbourne with his dance classes. In this interview we learn more about Robert who contrary to popular belief is not the founder of the ‘Greggs’ bakery chain (though I think he’s just playing it down), and his views about staring at girls in dance class.
1. Rob, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Sure. My name is Robert Gregg, Dance teacher, choreographer, University graduate in Multimedia computing. I have been dancing for just over 5 years and teaching for just over 4 (started at university). I was pushed into teaching because I was always the one dancing around the university bar and getting people up to dance. Once I started to teach I then found one of my true passions which is to teach.
2. You teach and dance. A lot of people just dance, or just teach dance classes. Do you find one more enjoyable than the other?
love them both equally. I love teaching what I know and always trying to better myself and reach new levels. I dance and teach. I think they are symbiotic with each other. To improve in dance you need to practice dance. It doesn’t just come with magic fairy dust overnight. You can improve whilst teaching because you are practicing when choreographing etc but I feel specific focused practicing in the dance you are trying to master is vital.
3. I have seen you freestyle and know you are very, very good at it. You dance on the street, on stage and of course in the renowned dance circle. Some dancers find freestyling absolutely terrifying. Could you shed some light on your philosophy and what you’re thinking if anything when you go out to freestyle?
Freestyling is about not thinking and letting the moves flow (being free). It is a connection between you and the music. If you find that you are thinking when freestyling it is most likely that you have taken your focus off of the music. When practicing it is ok to do that, but when it is for real, you just let your moves flow and let the beat/rhythm inspire you.
Of course there are things you can think about, like techniques, audience awareness, thinking ahead and planning out your moves so you don’t reveal all too quickly. The more you practice freestyling and the techniques, the more they will become natural to you. Here I’m not just talking about a 1 minute freestyle in your bedroom, but in competitions sometimes you have to go through different rounds. If you don’t want to repeat yourself then techniques and practice will help.
4. I noticed on your website that you have a couple of clips and also a DVD out ‘Hip Hop 4 All Volume 1’ that breaks down a lot of your moves. Is there going to be a second volume and if so what will be on it?
There is already a second volume but it was made a few years ago now. I am planning to make new dance DVDs with the knowledge I have now. It will include the basics of the different styles of Hip Hop, freestyle techniques, understanding the dance circles etc etc.
5. In your opinion, what is it that makes a great dancer?
Someone who understands the foundations and basics of what they are trying to do. Someone who is humble, dedicated and always considers themselves a student of dance (not thinking that they have achieved all you can achieve).
6. 1 thing I noticed after having a look around your website is that you have a section on etiquette which is pretty rare. What do you not like to see in dancers and what would you classify as respect and good manners?
Cocky is not always good to look at. If you have a passion for learning dance then everyone is welcome in my class. Guys coming to class to ‘look’ at girls is not cool and vice versa, as it puts people off. I also prefer it if people took part rather than watched, as others in the class may get nervous at the thought of someone they don’t know staring at them whilst they dance.
7. So many people give up dancing before they even begin. They’ll take a class and then when they don’t get it, they’ll give up and say, “Well,I guess I wasn’t born to be a dancer.” Whereas you and I and people who work in the industry know that it’s not like that, and you have to put in the work to be able to get good. What has been your experience of this?
Ever since my first class I have always had a burning passion to dance. If the passion is there it is there. If the passion gets extinguished after a short time then maybe they don’t want to be a dancer as much as they think. Don’t take it too seriously – If you love it you love it, if you don’t you don’t. I feel it is just important to find you true passion. If you want to do it for a hobby and just part time then don’t give up. I can tell you that THE MORE YOU DO IT, THE EASIER IT GETS, and that is a Robert Gregg guarantee.