Lucian Stănilă, Arthur Murray Dance Studio: „Romania is where my heart is”

Lucian Stănilă was born in the beautiful city of Sibiu, in 1976. He remembers dancing since he was three years old, but he became professional at the age of 14. He wanted to show the world what he is capable of, and in 2000 he took the plane to USA, where he discovered not only a whole new world but also, there he found the love of his life, an American named Sarah. Dance was a constant in his life, and in 2003, looking for a job he got an interview in Arthur Murray in New Jersey, one of the best entertainment companies in the world (and one can figure this out just from their slogan: „If you can walk, we teach you how to dance”). And he’s never left since. He now actually owns three studios, including one in Bucharest. He had over 1,000 students and it is not hard to imagine why: the criteria to be admitted here is to want to have fun, meet friends, and feel the music.  Although he lives in the USA now, Lucian Stănilă often comes to Romania (he admits he loves eating „sarmale” and his best vacation ever was in the Danube Delta, with the tent). His favourite place in Bucharest is the Arthur Murray studio, and he thinks that the dance styles that best suit Romanians are waltz, rumba and swing.

Lucian Stănilă, Photo credit: personal archive

Cristina Dobreanu: How did dancing appear in your life?

Lucian Stănilă: I have been dancing since I was very little, about 3 years old. In my family, there was a lot of music and party, so I was always present and joining in.

Do you remember your first flight to US?

Oh, yeah! It was on December 12 of 2000, with KLM.

What were your feelings and dreams back then, on the plane, about America?

Is it real? Are they really letting me go? (About the Visa. It was a miracle to get it). I had the feeling that something, someone (Good Angels) are just in charge of what is going on. They took control of everyone who was normally not allowing this to happen. I felt that I had no idea where I was going and how it was going to be, but I felt that I would make a difference in this life and world. It was my ticket, my chance. I always dreamt of going to America, where I can show to the world what I can do. Even though I did not know that dancing would become the best thing in my life so far.

Why and when did you decide you wanted to start a new life someplace else?

I had „the bug” in me”. I knew that I wanted to be different, not ordinary. I always worked hard on anything I did, so I knew that as I was preparing, the opportunity would arrive. And it did. I got the Visa to go in USA.

What happened when Lucian met Sarah?

Sarah was America for me. When I met her and I noticed her kindest and her special natural loving smile, I felt that she was special and that she represented America from the human point of view. America is smiles and civilization. That’s what I first liked about her.

And when did Arthur Murray appear in your life?

It was 2003. I was looking for a studio to work in. After looking in a few, the faith directed me to go for an interview in Arthur Murray Chatham New Jersey. Best job ever!

What comes to your mind when thinking about Romania?

It’s where my heart is.

How often do you come to Romania?

I come about 4 or 5 times a year.

How have things changed around here since you left?

They changed into better. Better quality as far as service and communication.

What do you miss most from Romania when you are away?

The people: family and friends. The nature. I can’t find this feeling about nature anywhere I go. The food. The many Holidays with many days of no work.

Best vacation ever in Romania?

Danube Delta. 2 weeks with the tent.

Favourite place in Bucharest?

Arthur Murray Bucharest and all restaurants with good Romanian food and traditional live music.

In what way did the American experience change you?

Business. Learned so much about what a fair life style should be like. Learned that sales are the necessity in life anywhere in the world. And it’s a good thing. Learned that working hard and being fair and consistent, works anywhere in the world. It’s just a choice. Creates the strongest reputation and respect that can last for a lifetime and beyond.

What does it take to succeed in US?

Positivity and treat people well. Quality work and No Complaining!

And how would you define success?

In my case, when I can help others feel better and see them happier.

When did you fall in love with USA, and New York especially?

When my best cousin and my best friend left to US. I was about 8. He was sending me cards with pictures from America and telling me how nice is was there. Also, my love grew along with music and movies.

What has dancing taught you?

That I can change someone’s mood very fast. That I can get a party started. That I can change lives with it.

What is your greatest achievement so far?

Freedom. Financially and freedom of travel. That I have the best possible combination in the world. First of all,  I am talented in what I do and love. Secondly, I have the place to practice it. And thirdly, I am making a leaving out of it.

How many people have you trained to dance?

Hmmm… Hard to say. I guess over 1,000.

Who is your biggest hero?

Arthur Murray himself. He was clever to create this system that allows us to teach the amateurs to dance, around the world.

For Romanians, generally, what would be the dance style that best suits their character?

Waltz, Rumba and Swing. Waltz makes me think about the way Romanians dress at weddings in general. A taste of elegance and attention to details. Rumba, because we are romantics. Growing up in România, I used to go to  parties where the elderly were dancing blues with their partners. And rumba is connected to that. Swing, especially Jitterbug or Twist, is fun and full of energy, very dynamic. I experienced these dances a lot at parties in România, weddings especially. They reflect a joy of life and wish to have fun.

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