Shaka Lee teaching a Heels Workshop

My Dance Journey; Part Two – I Am a Teacher

I never thought I would end up being a dance teacher. Especially not after I was discouraged by one of my biggest inspirations. 

This is part two of my dance story. 

Teaching was not something that ever interested me. I was the performer, I wanted to shine and be the star of the show. That was all the concerned me when I was younger. But somewhere in my mid-twenties, my mindset changed. I realized it was no longer all about me. I wanted to start helping other women discover their confidence and feminine power because I understood that the more comfortable women felt in their bodies, the more power they had. And I was so obsessed with this topic that I started reading books, listening to podcasts and taking courses on the subject. 

In 2016 I had been taking heels classes for a year. In those classes, I was able to witness pure magic. The space that these teachers created for their students to feel safe and to be themselves was so inspiring. I watched so many women come into those classes a little guarded and unsure of themselves, and leave as more confident versions of themselves with a deeper connection to their body. These classes were changing lives and I felt so lucky to witness it.

I remember sitting in class once, watching all the women supporting each other (filming each other and cheering each other on), vibing so high together and I thought to myself we need more of this. This space is so rare and not enough women are exposed to it. Most women do not know about this amazingly safe and healing place. And part of me felt called to share it. It was a small nudge at first, but my intuition was telling me you should do something like this.

I wasn’t silly enough to think I could start teaching heels after just one year of taking classes, but I did want to create the same type of environment for women to feel good about themselves. At the time I had a lot of runway modelling experience, so I put together a class that was a mix between what I knew as a model and what I learned as a dancer. I called the class Shaka’s Walk Class and I aimed to teach every woman how to walk with more confidence. My slogan was “Know your worth. Own your worth. Make every sidewalk your runway.”

To be honest, I didn’t really what I was doing, but I was driven by my new-found passion to teach other women how to be more confident. This was already something I deeply believed in and mixed with my new desire to start teaching, I thought I had really found something that was right for me. 

My first few classes went well and then I had a conversation with my heels teacher. She taught the classes that I had been taking every single week for the past year. Her classes inspired me so much and I truly respected her as an artist and a female entrepreneur. But she was not supportive of this new venture of mine. When she found out about my class she told me “you have to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes”. She made me believe that I was not experienced enough to teach others. Even when I told her that I was trying to make a new class based on my modelling skillset she still could not fully support my decision. 

I was hurt. I’d imagined that someone I looked up to would be proud of me for wanting to branch out on my own and create more empowering classes for women. I thought they would support my choice and possibly help guide me on this new journey. This was all too familiar of someone else I looked up to that had put my passion down.

This had a strong effect on me. I tried to promote more classes but my heart just wasn’t in it and not surprisingly, they did not do well. In 2017 when a family member’s illness was getting worse I stopped my classes altogether. 

For years I wouldn’t be able to get those words out of my head. When friends of mine would ask me to teach them a dance move or tell me that I should start teaching dance I would convince them that I was no teacher. I was only a student and I truly felt like that was all I’d ever be. 

But the desire to teach and lead other women was still there, and eventually, I started to imagine myself as a teacher. I watched friends of mine start teaching and I noticed that I envied them a little. But at this point, I was too afraid to start. I felt like I needed someone’s permission. 

It’s funny when you think that opportunity finds you, but really, you find the opportunity. In November of 2018, I started gogo dancing in an entertainment company whose founder also taught weekly samba lessons for their big shows. After a few months of training and learning samba with her, she discovered that I was talented in heels and told me that I should teach a class to the girls in the company. She helped to film a promo video for me and she let me open the class up to whoever I wanted. So with her guidance and push, I started teaching my very own heels dance classes in April of 2019. 

I’m so thankful for all the support and encouragement I got from friends, fellow company members and total strangers that took a chance on my classes and loved it. It reminded me that I was on the right path.

Teaching women to feel confident and love their bodies through heels dance has made me feel so aligned in my purpose. I truly feel blessed to create positive change in the lives of my students. And watching my students grow has been my biggest blessing yet as a teacher. 

I put my heart and soul into my teaching. I let the music and my intimate connection to my body create moves that make other women feel great about themselves. My classes instil power, confidence, and femininity into my students. 

I am so glad that I was able to put those poisonous words behind me and allow myself to create a career for myself out of dance, something that I always dreamed of. 

I have a long list of goals for myself now that being a dance teacher is my chosen career and inspiring as many women to feel more confident and comfortable in their bodies is at the top of that list. 

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