Nina Perez on exploring the relationship between dance, relating and connection
Nina Perez is founder and director of Baila! Dance Today and is a social dancer and a Latin dance instructor in Vancouver. Nina is also a connection coach and helps people enhance their relationships through the lenses of dance and other modalities.
Born and raised in Argentina, Perez started dancing ballet, flamenco and national folklore from a very young age. She now has over 37 years of dancing experience and has been teaching for the last 20 years.
Perez discovered Argentine Tango in her teens and performed for the likes of Nestor Marconi at the Vancouver Orpheum Theatre with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. At the age of 19, she was introduced to Salsa and her instructor asked her to become part of his dance team. This is when Nina fell in love with teaching and embarked on a journey of personal development.
Her focus was on accelerating learning and removing all the blocks to connection with others and enhancing the communication in relationships. She has taught many workshops and trainings, from somatic disciplines to designed conversations and has merged her 20 years of dance expertise and personal development to a brand new way of looking at dance, relating and connection.
Tell us about your journey to Canada.
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina until the age of seven when we immigrated to Vancouver. I was young enough for it to be a smooth transition, I learned English and made new friends quickly. During the recession of ‘91 we actually moved back to Buenos Aires because my father was laid off. This was a very eye-opening time for me. I was a young teen and we were in Buenos Aires until I was 15 which allowed me to see how different life was between the two countries. When we returned to Vancouver in 1995, I decided that I wanted to stay in Canada. I still visit my homeland but my life, my present and my future are in Canada.
Tell us about your work.
I have had the pleasure of sharing my Latin heritage by opening a dance school over 20 years ago, called Dance Today! We specialize in Latin partner dancing: Salsa, Bachata and Argentine Tango. We hold indoor, outdoor, and online lessons for singles and couples, and provide group and private instruction. Our slogan is No Partner! No Rhythm! No Problem!
When a person has done something for a long time, I believe it ultimately evolves into something deeper and the desire for expansion is part of the growing and evolution of your passion. This is how Thrive Today! was born. We hold interactive workshops that involve dancing and teach the deeper skill of connection.
Our newest expansion to our business has been Give Today! which was launched during COVID where we give back to the community in different ways, with free
dance classes, wellbeing workshops and an impact club, where we partner with our students and donate part of our sales to charity to be launched in 2021.
Tell us more about the relationship between dance, relating and connection.
Connection is something we all crave and are wired for, but often people don’t know how to obtain, maintain, enjoy and grow it in ourselves, in our relationships, and in our lives. When we feel connected to ourselves, to others, and to our community at large we feel we belong. We feel less loneliness and isolation. Our sense of confidence grows, and with that, our happiness.
People can learn so much from dance because they are sometimes by-passing the intellectual mind and are entering into feeling. Which is a much faster teacher.
There is a great Zen Budhism saying that goes “how you do one thing is how you do all things.” Dance is a great vehicle that can quickly teach us the principles needed in everyday life when relating to others. In dance, when something is not working you will feel it, and vice versa when something is working you will feel it, and then be able to replicate that feeling. The same principle applies in conversations and relating to other people.
What inspires you?
What inspires me through my work is giving people new experiences that provide an opportunity for them to transform from the inside out. Dance is a fun way to learn so much about yourself and how you relate to others.
Dance is very generous in the rewards it gives. It is great for your life, your immune system, your confidence, your social life, but best of all it’s fantastic for teaching lessons that spill into other areas of your life and improve all your relationships, conversations, and moments.
What is your advice to other immigrants?
I would encourage immigrants to embrace their roots, bring their culture with them and combine it with all the new things that they have learned in their lives and share it with the world. This is why Vancouver, and Canada at large, is such a beautiful melting pot of diversity.
Learn more about Nina Perez and her work here. Watch a TEDx presentation by Nina Perez below.