A Conversation with Anastasia Muravyeva – From Dance Floor to Boardroom
Anastasia Muravyeva, a former United States and International ballroom dancing champion. She won the ballroom dancing World Cup four times, as well as first place at the prestigious Blackpool dance festival. Today, she is focused on entrepreneurial activities, including being a co-organizer of Hollywood Dancesport Championship, serving as co-producer of several Broadway shows like “Kinky Boots,” “Life of Pi,” and “Here Lies Love.” She is also the CEO of Dance n Dazzle, an entertainment agency.
HELLO ANASTASIA MURAVYEVA, WELCOME TO ABOUT INSIDER! CAN YOU SHARE SOME INSIGHTS INTO THE UPCOMING HOLLYWOOD DANCESPORT CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2023? WHAT CAN ATTENDEES AND PARTICIPANTS EXPECT FROM THIS PRESTIGIOUS EVENT?
Absolutely. I’m so thrilled about this year’s Hollywood Dancesport Championships! The Hollywood Dancesport Championships is not just another annual event. From the moment you step into the ballroom, you’re immersed in the magic of Hollywood glamour and glitz. You’ll find yourself transported to a different world—a world of dance, artistry, and an abundance of positive emotions. I am very proudly co-organizing this event with dance legends like Michael Chapman, a multi-Tony Award recipient, and Mary Murphy, renowned for her decade-long stint as a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”. This year, the championship takes place from November 1st to the 5th at the Hilton Hotel near Universal Studios. We’ll conclude on the last day with one of the largest kids’ competitions in the nation. In keeping with tradition, one of our evenings will be a Halloween bash where officials and attendees can revel in creative costumes. We warmly invite everyone who loves dance and artistry to join us!
AS A FORMER US AND INTERNATIONAL BALLROOM DANCING CHAMPION, COULD YOU SPEAK TO THE BENEFITS OF BALLROOM DANCING CONCERNING BEAUTY, HEALTH, AND FITNESS?
You know, whenever someone mentions ballroom dancing, I can’t help but think about how incredibly beneficial it is in so many ways. First off, just look at the poise and grace of anyone who dances regularly! It does wonders for one’s posture and confidence, and there’s this radiance that comes from moving gracefully. You can’t help but notice an innate elegance that’s so much more than just physical appearance. In terms of workout, It’s not just about burning calories – though you definitely get a good workout from a vigorous tango or jive. Some of my students in their 90s. For them, dancing isn’t just fun, it’s key for staying active and mentally sharp. Moreover, the pure joy of dancing releases endorphins, serving as a natural stress-reliever. Honestly, there’s just something magical about ballroom dancing. It’s like hitting a beauty salon, therapy session, and gym all at once. That’s why once you start, you can’t stop.
BALLROOM DANCING BOASTS A RICH TAPESTRY OF CULTURAL HISTORY. HOW DOES IT RESONATE ACROSS GLOBAL CULTURES, AND WHAT PEARLS OF WISDOM HAVE YOU GATHERED FROM YOUR INTERNATIONAL SOJOURNS?
Ballroom dancing has taken me to nearly 30 different countries. Dance truly is a universal language, with each country offering its unique interpretation of ballroom styles. Through my travels, I’ve learned that while techniques may differ, the essence of dance remains the same. The wonderful thing is, if you’re a fan of ballroom dancing, you can find and attend classes almost anywhere in the world. I’ve had the privilege of performing for diverse audiences, whether in Europe, Japan, Indonesia, or South Africa. Ballroom dancing has a set of associated rules that are recognized globally. So, moves like the natural turn in the Waltz or the lockstep in the Cha-Cha are consistently danced in every country. Regardless of ethnicity, race, skin color, or language, anyone can select a partner and seamlessly lead or follow across the dance floor, immersing in the joy it brings.
HOW DOES BALLROOM DANCING SERVE AS A CATALYST TO FOSTER DEEPER PERSONAL CONNECTIONS?
Ballroom dancing offers a wonderful social aspect. It demands trust, synchronization, and understanding – the very foundations of a solid relationship. As couples dance, they learn to communicate without words, anticipate their partner’s moves, and literally support one another. In a professional career, this is even more pronounced. My dance partner and I, while competing, used to travel for about 75% of the year, practicing daily. The time spent together fosters a unique bond; if not romantic, then certainly a profound friendship. This mutual dependence and shared growth on the dance floor often lead to deeper connections off of it.
HOW DOES BALLROOM DANCING ACT AS A MUSE FOR ONE’S ARTISTIC EXPRESSION?
I believe ballroom dancing, at its heart, is storytelling. When we performed our shows, we shareddifferentstories: from love stories and dramatic moments to lighthearted episodes. The more effectively we performed these stories to the audience through our bodily movements in sync with the music, the more appreciation we received. As dancers, we express emotions through our movements. I’ve been fortunate to always feel like I had a voice, whether performing or competing. The ability to stand out and convey emotions to an audience has been one of my most satisfying experiences. “Your dancing made me cry,” said a lady from the audience after one of my shows. She had tears of love and joy in her eyes. That was probably the greatest compliment I’ve ever received for my performance.
HOW DO YOU HARMONIOUSLY BLEND COMPETITION WITH CAMARADERIE IN THE DANCE REALM?
The world of ballroom dancing is like a beautiful fairy tale. For anyone fortunate enough to immerse themselves in the competitive atmosphere, experiencing the glitz and glamour of stunning ballroom gowns, tailored suits, intricate Latin costumes, handpicked music, and elaborate decorations, it’s not just an impressive sight—it’s captivating. Different countries have distinct dancing communities with their own values. For instance, in Japan, showcases among students at local dance parties are the main attraction. In the US, we have fantastic dance competitions where both amateurs and social dancers can showcase their skills and compete against each other. My advice to younger dancers is to respect and learn from everyone, cherish the shared passion.
YOUR TRANSITION FROM THE DANCE FLOOR TO THE BOARDROOM SOUNDS INTRIGUING. COULD YOU SHED LIGHT ON THIS JOURNEY?
The discipline and dedication I developed as a dancer proved invaluable in my business endeavors. Having a champion’s mindset has always been a dominant trait in my character. However, while the dance world emphasizes personal excellence and individual achievements, business operates as a team sport. Learning to delegate was a significant learning curve. If I were to claim that my pivotal journey was both enjoyable and smooth sailing, I wouldn’t be honest. I underwent a lot of self-learning and personal growth. A crucial step in this journey was enrolling in an executive MBA program at USC. Being surrounded by successful, intelligent individuals, listening to their insights and experiences, and collaborating on mutual projects added immense value and boosted my confidence. For me continuous learning, self-development, and innovation are essential for success.
COULD YOU ELABORATE ON ACQUIRING AND NURTURING THE “CHAMPION MINDSET” AND ITS BROADER APPLICATIONS IN LIFE?
I grew up in a military family, and that planted in me a deep appreciation for discipline. This value served me well as a child and later reaped rewards in my career. Professional sports requires discipline and place demands on the body to perform at the peak of physical ability. My experience in competing, winning, and achieving results I only dreamed of as a child developed most valuable personal strength. The term “champion’s mindset” is widely recognized and often cited. After retirement, I must confess that this mindset has tremendously assisted me in achieving my goals outside the competitive filed.A champion’s mindset revolves around resilience, discipline, and an insatiable thirst for growth. In any endeavor, failure is inevitable. If you aim for success, you will experience setbacks not just once, but multiple times.People say that you learn the most when you lose, and from my experience, I know how true that is. I’ve won, lost, and won again. The moments of picking myself up, going against the odds, and overcoming challenges have been the most valuable lessons in my personal growth. It’s about rising after every setback and focusing on the journey rather than solely on the destination. Whether in dance, business, or personal challenges, this mindset turns obstacles into stepping stones.
AS WE DRAW TO A CLOSE, ANY PERSONAL WISDOM OR CHERISHED MEMORY YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
I believe dreams are what make our world beautiful and our lives worth living. Regardless of how challenging one’s journey might be, never give up on your dreams. They do come true if you work hard and stay resilient. Ballroom dancing can take you on a dream journey, even if it’s just for a couple of hours a day.
FOR OUR READERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO CONNECT WITH YOU OR FOLLOW YOUR WORK ONLINE, WHERE CAN THEY FIND YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS OR WEBSITES?
I’d love to connect with fellow dance enthusiasts and entrepreneurs! They can find me on: