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Interview with one of UCan2 Dance Studio's founding principals, Harry Raiend!

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Harry was interviewed by Kylie Mowbray-Allen of Hello Media, about the who, what and why of how he started his career in DANCE. Enjoy the read!

Q: Where were you born?

A: Tallinn, Estonia

Q: Tell me about your childhood when dancing came into your life, and why did you start dancing?

A: When it comes to dancing, my first teacher Ants Tael. He taught me soo much more than dancing - work ethic, time management, organisational skills, how to behave and good manners. was good for me so they kept bribing me with ‘things’. I can’t remember all but I definitely got a skateboard and a bicycle out if it!! Later years it was the presence of girls that kept my interests up. As you can see, dancing wasn’t the priority … luckily I was good at it!

Q: Who was the most influential person in your life?

A: When it comes to dancing, my first teacher Ants Tael. He taught me soo much more than dancing - work ethic, time management, organizational skills, how to behave and good manners.

Q: Tell me a bit about your tertiary education and how dance was involved?

A: I have a Masters degree which covers Dance (all forms) , teaching and business. Dancing covered everything from ballet to folk dancing with main focus on Ballroom & Latin. Soviet era teaching methods are now obsolete (thankfully) apart from psychology which I loved and still use. Business I learnt in a communist country - what more can I say.

Q: What was the happiest time of your life?

A: When I was holding Leo (*new grand baby) yesterday!! Nothing possibly can compete with that! I’m not really sure how to answer this one. Through my life I’ve been a very positive person who is determined to get on with life. I’ve had extreme highlights in both my personal and dancing life.

Q: What is your favourite genre of dancing?

A: To begin with I wasn’t keen on the Ballroom although I did well. I wasn’t a born gentleman - my parents were definitely working class and my classmates were all communist elites. They could more easily pull off the gentleman thing. Latin was definitely my favourite but with the development of the Ballroom over the last few decades, it would have been much more up my alley.

Q: If you had never learned to dance, what do you think you’d be doing now?

A: Some sort of business - I’m creative and always looking for opportunities.

Q: Tell me about a time when you knew you’d found your calling?

A: My skills have not really always been recognised here in New Zealand so it’s been rewarding to be invited to teach and judge so many places in the world with world champions and finalists lining up to get private lessons.

Q: Tell me about a time when you felt incredibly proud of your dancing career?

A: I’ve never really been that sort. Not good at blowing my own trumpet. Just do what I do as well as I can wherever I am.

Q: Has having a dancing career taken you places you never thought you’d go, and if so, where?

A: Most definitely. I’ve worked in Norway, Finland, Estonian, Russia, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Australia. I’m sure I’ve left some out. It’s certainly been very interesting, eye-opening and always extending my knowledge.

Q: What’s it like, working with your wife?! Do you have a way of sharing the jobs, or do you both do all the things?

A: We complement each other very well. We’re a good team. Obviously, as in all businesses, there have been hiccups along the way but we’re good at resolving them and good at encouraging and supporting each other.

Q: What is your passion (or a favourite hobby?) outside of dancing.

A: Maxi! Surfing, paddle-boarding, being with my dog and family, riding my motorbike.

Q: What is your favourite memory of life as a dance studio owner?

A: The fact that we own our fantastic building which we designed and built. This certainly wasn’t easy but we are reaping the rewards now - goodness knows how we would have got through major upsets (including COVID) if this wasn’t the case. So much joy seeing old students return after many years and sometimes with their children. The competition couples we’ve developed over the years and their outstanding results are great memories.

Q: What do you value most and why?

A: My family - I couldn’t do any of it without them - they keep me going.

Q: What’s the best thing about Dancesport?

A: Friendships (from here and all around the world). I met my best friend when I was 6 years old. We competed against each other, went to University together, and we still text and call daily even though he lives in the other side of the world.

Q: What’s the most frustrating t

hing about Dancesport?

A: Locally, the lack of continuing education of the judges.

Q: Over all the decades you’ve been involved, what changes have surprised you the most about Dancesport?

A: What has surprised/disappointed me is that not enough has changed here in New Zealand DanceSport compared to the rest of the world.

Q: What song are you most enjoying dancing to right now?

A: I don’t have an actual favourite. I like music to be upbeat and positive and, if course, with a great beat. I find some music, especially Ballroom, to be dull.

Q: What’s the most misunderstood thing about being a dancer?

A: That all male danc

ers are gay. Nobody should care what they are - they’re simply dancers.

Q: What’s your favourite quote about life (or dancing!)

A: The mind is like a parachute - it doesn’t work if it’s not open. - Frank Zappa Sometimes you’re the dog and sometimes you’re the tree. G

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Hello Media have changed the way we view business and have taken us into this century. They provide us with a view to the future and guidance. We’ve done it all in the past - walking the streets doing Mail drops, yellow pages, cinema advertising, local paper advertising - all costing a lot of money with minimal results. Thanks Harry, it's a pleasure and a privilege to work with UCan2, and loved the insights into you in this read! Kylie, Hello Media.



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