It’s week three of our teacher spotlights here at Hustle and Flow, and we’re talking this week with one of our newest instructors, Tiffanie Austin! Tiffanie’s movement practice is often very au-courant, as she fits pop culture moments and trends into her choices of music and movement. Down-to-earth and enthusiastic in class, she often ties the emotional or social impact of her song choices into her instruction and invites students to embody that same connection through dance.
Check out Tiffanie’s high-energy classes below and read on for her take on dance, hip-hop, pop music and more!
Teacher Spotlight: Tiffanie Austin
Teaches: Bubblegum Pop Remix
How did you come to teach at Hustle and Flow?
I started out as a student! My first class ever was Stephanie’s Dancehall Hip Hop class in December of 2016, and I was immediately hooked on Hustle and Flow. I had been living here in Maine for about a year, and I was so unbelievably lonely. Stephanie was so welcoming. That first class with Steph was the first time I felt like I belonged in Maine. I met Carla at one of her Buti classes the next day and I was like, “Oh shit, these are my people!”
I took tons of classes! I felt like movement and the community at Hustle and Flow was really helping me work through things in my own life, and I wanted to dive deeper into my dance practice by teaching. I started as a substitute for Grace’s class, and then eventually was scheduled to sub-Stephanie’s class while she was in Guinea during the month of January. At the staff meeting before Steph left for her trip, I ran the idea for a Bubble Gum Pop class by her, and she took a chance on me!
Definitely try it out! Fridays at 5:30pm!!
What informs your movement practice, what influences do you consider key to your practice?
I have been dancing my whole life. Growing up, I took Hip Hop, Pop, and Jazz. I was on the dance team in junior high, and a cheerleader in high school and my first year of college. Even when I wasn’t on a team, I never stopped dancing. I was dancing in clubs. I was dancing in my kitchen, in my bathroom, in my yard! I just wanted to move in a way that felt good. My favorite thing about dance is that I feel like it gives me a chance to step into the strongest version of myself without even thinking about it. I was a bit of an outcast as a kid, and I feel like music really helped me to better understand, and relate to, the world around me. My mother laid the foundation of my dance/musical education by playing me through the history of hip-hop and pop music, by showing me groundbreaking music videos and explaining to me the significance of how artists like Janet Jackson, Dr. Dre, and Madonna evolved the entertainment industry. My dance style is definitely informed by that foundation and by the music videos I grew up with in the late 90s and early 2000s that were heavy on hard-hitting group choreography. I also spent a good chunk of my early twenties living in the South, where I learned to appreciate twerking on a whole other level.
What do you do to prepare for class?
I spend the few days leading up to my class listening to music that makes me feel like moving. Sometimes I try to pay attention to events in the pop world and play my choreography off that. When Britney Spears announced her world tour, we did a routine to her new hit “Slumber Party.” I like to do new choreography for each class. When I first started choreographing, it would take me like five hours to get two eight counts! Now I’ve got it down to about an hour and a half of prep time per class. The choreography is coming out a little more smoothly now that I have been consistently working that creative muscle!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your classes – what can we expect when we’re in the room with you, what do you hope for us to take away from your class, or what kind of music or movements are you into right now? Or anything else you’d like to tell us about your life, hobbies or interests!
I want you to have fun. I know that sounds like a line, but I mean it. I don’t care if you nail the choreography (although it’s really unbelievably cool for me when you do), I just want you to have an hour of time that you are doing something fun and healthy for yourself. I teach a new choreography every week because I want people who come to my class to exercise their minds in tandem with their bodies in a low-stress and hyper-supportive environment.
That mind-body connection is a skill that we don’t really get to work on in our day to day lives. I want you to leave my class feeling empowered. When you show up and do my choreography, it is an incredible honor for me whether you get the steps perfectly or not. You are literally embodying my art. I can’t explain how cool it is to see how my choreography looks and is interpreted in so many different minds and bodies! Often, when someone asks a question in my class, they preface it with “sorry but,” or “this might sound dumb but,” and I really want to phase those phrases out. I WANT you to ask questions because chances are that someone else is wondering the same thing you are!
In my regular life, I am a farmer. My husband and I just bought a farm in New Gloucester last June. I planted an apple and plum orchard last fall, as well as about eight thousand daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs for cut flowers! I love working in the dirt. I feel like dancing and farming for me are the same type of creative outlet. I love being able to physically use my body to create beauty!
Check out the schedule to join Tiffanie for a class this week – we’ll see you in the orange room soon!