As a long-time salsa dancer, instructor, and dance studio owner, Miriam Watkins unintentionally became a matchmaker. As a rule, she speaks with the men who attend her salsa classes about their responsibilities in asking the women to dance. In her first year of teaching salsa, Watkins was persistent with one particular student who listened so well, he ended up marrying the one woman in class who had been sidelined by an injury, but had been eyeing him as well.
Though her intent is to teach solid technique, her capacity as an instructor is often extended into other realms.
“As an instructor you see things people don’t see,” muses Watkins. “I see people who come in that are very shy and just need a little bit more encouragement to step out of themselves. I also see the little looks when people are interested in each other and can pick it up as soon as it happens, because nobody else is paying attention.”
She tries to stay conscientious of her student’s needs by creating an open, welcoming environment and encouraging individuals based on their abilities. Depending on the type of day a student is having, a breakdown over not understanding a dance move may be rooted in something deeper. Staying attuned to these moods, she hopes to cultivate her studio as a safe space to have fun and escape.
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