Q&A: Dance instructor Raza Moghal struts his stuff at the Tulip Festival

Instructor Raza Moghal with dance partner France Trottier. Photo by Rémi Thériault.

By Krystle Chow

Meet Raza Moghal of Salsa Connectica, a dance class that includes lessons on social etiquette, understanding body language, and other tips on how to make an impression on the dance floor. After a successful nine-month run at Mambo Nuevo Latino and a series at Ashbury College, the charismatic Toronto native talks about bringing his unique brand of social innovation to the Canadian Tulip Festival.

You’re trained in business and urban planning; how does dance fit in?
I did a graduate diploma in green and socially responsible business, and fundamentally it’s about creating value, allowing you to reach fresh markets. Since I’m new to the city, I asked, “How do I offer something new and get people’s attention?” My value proposition is, essentially, trying to help people connect.

How is Salsa Connectica different from other dance classes?
It’s still mostly a dance class, but it’s about 10 percent etiquette and 10 percent social awareness theory. I’m making the implicit explicit. I’m talking about building chemistry and rapport and how to create that connection that’s beyond the physical. I use dance as a forum for that.

How does social dance compare with the dancing people are already doing?
Latin music is romantic and lets us connect with our heartstrings once in a while. You go to a hip-hop club, and it’s a different kind of energy altogether. And with a lot of popular music today, it’s very explicit and doesn’t even give you the chance to know someone. The problem with the bar scene is that the music’s too loud and sexually provocative. Also, there’s often excessive alcohol involved, which means people don’t always pick up on each other’s cues.

Do you teach all that to the teens at Ashbury?
Well, it’s nothing too risqué. Dance is good for their interpersonal development — I’ve got great music; I talk about goal-setting, affirmation, and visualization, because when you’re leading in dance, you see the next move before it happens, so it’s a metaphor for life.

What would you say is the key thing people will take away from Salsa Connectica?
You’re holding a person in your arms, so you have to learn restraint and subtlety. You can win someone through dance.

What do you have planned for the Tulip Festival?
There will be two or three workshops over the May 21-23 weekend, with the same concept as the workshops at Mambo. Summer festivals are a great time to meet people, and with the Tulip Festival, it’s a beautiful setting; we’re dancing at sunset. Many romances have started on the dance floor, so let’s bring it back.

Salsa Connectica is at the Canadian Tulip Festival. Raza Moghal teams up with dance partner France Trottier for a fun “Social Latin Dance Sampler,” which takes place on the World Showcase Stage on May 20 and 21 (5:45 p.m.-7:15 p.m. each evening) and on May 22 from 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m .