Photo by Lia Crowe, In Studio with Daniel - Arthur Murray

Care to Dance?

From never having danced before to becoming an instructor

  • May. 4, 2020 8:00 a.m.

When you watch Arthur Murray Dance Studio owner Daniel Seguin gracefully sashay and confidently twirl around the dance floor, it’s hard to believe he was once severely overweight and painfully shy.

“I started taking dance lessons because I was 5’6 and getting close to 195 pounds and I had to do something,” the now svelte 53-year-old says.

Daniel, who was 26 at the time and living in Ottawa, had never danced before, but after seven months of lessons, he loved it so much he decided to become an instructor at Arthur Murray.

“I always thought you had to be tall and slim to be a dance instructor, but then an instructor who was my height started at the school and I realized that wasn’t true,” he says. “When you watch ballroom dancing on TV, a lot of people think you have to be a certain body type or age to do it, but that’s just not the case. It’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have. I didn’t fit the mold at all.”

Daniel was working at Canada Post as an internal auditor for the money order division and didn’t fit the “arts mold” either. He’d grown up wanting to be a high school math teacher and loved numbers. But he didn’t realize something was missing until dance came into his life.

“I really enjoyed working with numbers and the checks and balances, but I was always a pretty creative kid growing up and it didn’t add to that,” he explains. “When I became a dance teacher, those two worlds came together because music is numbers and creating patterns and creating routines.”

Choreographing cha-cha-chas and award-winning routines instead of crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, Daniel quickly found his passion.

“Dance is just so freeing because you’re just able to feel the music and, for me, it’s making sure my partner feels good,” he says. “It’s a shared experience and it can be life-changing.”

For Daniel, who was never one of the popular kids in school and painfully shy in social situations, dance has given him confidence and opened up a world of opportunity.

“I probably would have been that guy who just has a couple of friends and does a lot of stuff as a loner,” Daniel says. “But dancing has helped me break out of my shell. I think that’s one of the appeals of dancing — people want the opportunity to shine in some way.”

After Ottawa, Daniel moved to Chicago and then Edmonton to teach and manage studios before landing in Victoria and opening his own studio in Saanich Plaza last May.

“It was a 14-month-long search to find the right location and open our doors,” Daniel says. “It’s a great business model with lots of things I love and, as an owner, I can build on that and interact more with each student.”

Teaching people of all ages and ability levels for more than 27 years, Daniel has found that everyone comes for a different reason: from simply having fun or for weight loss to coping with PTSD or trying to recharge a relationship.

“Some people are lonely or may have lost a spouse and are ready to start meeting people again,” he says. “And some people are just stressed at work and, at dance, their biggest worry is which foot is their left foot. It’s like a mini vacation in their lives.”

There have been a lot of success stories over the years, including couples headed for divorce falling back in love.

“For 40 minutes, they’re in each other’s arms and no longer watching TV side-by-side or even in different rooms,” Daniel explains. “They start seeing the person they were interested in when they first started dating. It’s kind of magical when you see it because it’s a really special moment you’re witnessing.”

Another success story that’s really stuck with Daniel is a student early on in his career who was incredibly shy. When she first came to the studio, the young woman could hardly look up from the floor when having a conversation.

“Through working with her and getting her to come out of her shell, people at work started noticing she had more confidence, she became part of their social group and she got promoted,” he says. “She also became good friends with another student and they started dating and that gentleman became her husband and they had a child together. We’re not psychiatrists or career builders, but the benefits she got from dancing brought out the beautiful person she already was on the inside.”

Daniel says it’s life-changing stories like that that keep him going.

“You always hope you can make a difference in life. I don’t know if I have the right words to really convey how it feels, but it’s really special.”

Given his love of dance and what it can do, it’s hard to believe Daniel almost gave up on his passion early in his career. He was ready to quit after a few years, but encouragement from a dance competition judge spurred him on and convinced him to stick with it.

“Everyone will tell you that to become really successful, a master will have failed more times than a beginner has ever tried and going through hardships makes the success so worthwhile,” he says.

“The life lesson I got is that if there are hardships and tough times, you just have to ride through them and eventually you’ll be able to realize all your dreams.”

Dance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Photo by Lia Crowe, In Studio with Daniel - Arthur Murray

Photo by Lia Crowe, In Studio with Daniel - Arthur Murray

Just Posted

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Retiring local politicians Carole James and Andrew Weaver will receive annual payouts estimated at $87,000 and $34,000, respectively, under the pension plan for outgoing MLAs in B.C., according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. (Black Press Media file photos)
Taxpayer watchdog howling over outgoing MLAs’ pension payouts

Carole James, Andrew Weaver among Island MLAs whose pensions are calculated by taxpayers federation

Sooke’s Paul Larouche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Hitting the jackpot: Sooke man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Most Read