Throughout my life I have been blessed with incredible friends, family, colleagues, and mentors who have helped me become the man I am today. Many of these people have shared with me their education, experiences, life lessons and wisdom. Some lessons came with a price tag, but many of the ones I value most came free, given through pure love and kindness. Winston Churchill said it best: "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." I have lived and worked by this philosophy throughout my career, and have sought to give back whenever I can.

While running my own studio in Oakland, I ran free group classes and parties for the local dance community three nights a week. We held beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes, followed by parties during which students could socialize and practice their skills in a safe, supportive environment. To support the program, we selected 10-20 “dance hosts": individuals with a great love for dance who sought to advance their dance skills beyond social dancing. My staff and I set time aside each week to provide free in-depth technical training to these individuals; in return, they offered guidance and expertise to others during group classes and parties. It was a highly successful program enjoyed and appreciated by all involved. Meeting a wide variety of students and seeing the pure joy on their faces as their dancing developed was an amazing blessing for me.

Over the course of my career most of my clients were private students, but I also took on a number of scholarship students--passionate learners who had a great desire to dance and compete, but could not afford to do so. All I required was hard work and complete commitment to our dance goals. Scholarship programs have always been a success. I provided time and expertise. My students provided dedication and devotion. One such student worked with me for about two years, during which we competed in all four ballroom disciplines: Rhythm, Smooth, Latin, and Standard. She never received less than first place in a competition. I will never forget the first time we hit the competition floor; when the dust settled and only the two of us were left on the floor, we heard the emcee say, “and taking first in all dances” and my student realized dreams do come true. After taking a championship bow with her body trembling and tears flowing down her face, she rushed to embrace her family. I once again found myself happy and proud to have created such joy, and blessed to have the means to give.

As time went by, I wanted to give back in greater ways. I started a program called Dancing Under the Stars, a summer outdoor event series in which my staff and I volunteer our time to teach, DJ, and emcee free dance lessons "under the stars" in Oakland's beautiful Jack London Square. This event brings so much fun and excitement to the East Bay community, and attracts hundreds of dancers weekly. We are now in our seventh year, and Dancing Under the Stars is stronger than ever. It has been our pleasure to give back to thousands in the dance community.

My wife and co-founder, Lauren Montoya, and I own a company called World Dance University (WDU)  We are currently building a program within WDU called the Give Back Tour, a series of free workshops designed to adapt to any dance class setting worldwide; more information coming soon. I look forward to teaching you and being part of your dance experience.