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2015.09.08 13:45

Moe Flex: people who said Lithuanians are miserable did not open the key to their inside

Goda Raibytė, LRT.lt2015.09.08 13:45

Moe Flex is a well-known name amongst dancers – he has worked with Madonna, Usher, 50 Cent and many others. Because of his infectious positive attitude, unique dancing and teaching style he has become one of the most wanted instructors in the world.

Moe Flex is a well-known name amongst dancers – he has worked with Madonna, Usher, 50 Cent and many others. Because of his infectious positive attitude, unique dancing and teaching style he has become one of the most wanted instructors in the world.

One week he is in Turkey, the other shares his dance secrets with Lithuanians. Then he returns home to the United Kingdom, but soon leaves to United Arab Emirates, where he headlines a salsa festival. Still, he never gets tired and is always to his credit – “The biggest smile in salsa”. Despite his busy schedule, Moe Flex found time for the interview with LRT.lt.

– Tell us about your dancing background and how did you find salsa.

–  It’s actually a little bit weird, because I wasn’t  always a dancer. I used to work in advertising and that sort of stuff.  So yes, I have a completely different background. I also used to be a semi-professional athlete as well. But my heart found a way of dance, it was surprising. Actually, at the club there was some professional dancers and they used to work there. I was very very shy to dance in public. And every week they were trying to push me to dance in their group – they used to make a circles, they used to battle. But I was “No, no no!” for like 6 months. Eventually the moment was right, the music was right and I jumped in, had a little battle. It was the first time I ever danced in public, I never danced in front of anybody. And that day the manager of the dancers he was there so he contacted me, he was like “You know, listen, I want you to come and work with our team”. Obviously, I refused.  And he’d been following me every day for three months. Eventually, I said “yes” and that’s how my dancing started. But for salsa I was in Manchester and I was walking passed the club that hadn’t been opened yet, they were just preparing to open the doors… A female DJ was playing a song I’d never heard before and I loved it. I came a little bit closer and there was a dancer on the floor by himself. He was just jammin’. So I came in and he challenged me and we had a battle for about 30 minutes. So afterwards we were having a drink and he goes to me “Listen, I’m djing in the club down the road, why don’t you come with us?”. I said ok, because I had nothing to do. And it was the first time I ever went to the salsa club. I fell in love with the music and I haven’t turned back since.

– It’s very difficult to believe that you were shy…

– Yes, I am not shy anymore! I found myself. Back then I was so shy to even speak in public, dance in public… If I’m in the room, you wouldn’t even know I’m there! Dancing transformed me completely. 

– So you told us about your dancing evolution. How would you describe your dancing style?

– Dance. If I like the song, I will learn that style. I’m quite versatile. I like to learn different styles of dance, because I love the music and I want to interpret it. So in salsa I like to learn all the different styles.

– You’re super hyperactive and you are also well-known for your positive attitude. Some people even say you never sleep. How do you manage to keep those high energy levels up and stay so positive?

– Actually, I’m also a psychologist by study. I had some time to open my mind, to see the world differently. And this helps you to evolve to find your inner energy. It’s the negativity drives you down, makes you feel  tired, slow, like everything is closed and dark. But when you see the world differently, it gives you warmth of positivity inside you and that helps you to feel the energy of everything around you.

– You travel a lot – one week you are in Turkey, the other in Lithuania, then you go to Cuba or United Arab Emirates… How do you organize your life?

– To be honest, it’s a little bit difficult. You miss a few things. I mean simple things, like going to the cinema, catching up with old friends, or keeping your clothes in the wardrobe, sleeping in your own bed for more than five days. But I get to see different sites, different people, cultures, taste different food, hear different languages, so that keeps me very excited, like now I’m getting ready to take a flight to Dubai to “Fuji” salsa festival. It’s an honor to do what I do.

– You’re also a musician. Does music help you to be a better dancer? I’m not talking about the feeling of the rhythm, the notes, but actually feeling the music?

– Everybody can hear the music, but nobody listens, that the difference. I don’t want people to listen with their ears, I want people to listen with their hearts. That’s the whole different kind of level of listening to the music. And this is how I found myself. I have such a passion for the music! My favorite instrument to listen is a saxophone. I also love the guitar, the piano… But to play – I’m a percussionist, I love playing anything I can hit! In my house right now I’ve got the congas, the djembe, my big saxophone, my bass, the guitar… So many different instruments! I love just to look at the instruments. I love music, it feeds my soul. And if anybody can feel the way I feel the music, they will never want to stop.

– Have you ever thought of forming a salsa band?

– I worked with some big bands, but the thing is that dancing is my passion, but it’s also my job. I don’t want music to be as restricted as work. Because when you work, you have to play a certain song, I don’t want to work, I want to keep it as a hobby. It is only for me. But I had the privilege to play with some of the biggest bands in the world, to get to know people, to have the contact, to play just because I feel like it – that is amazing, but I don’t want to do this as a job.

– Originally you come from Somalia, now you live in the Great Britain, but you travel a lot mostly teaching salsa. Do one’s origins play an important role in becoming a good dancer? Can a Lithuanian become a good salsa dancer?

– Of course! From Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Serbia all the area I’ve met some amazing dancers! For example, Brian Lieber and Mechteld Sterk who played in Vilnius salsa festival this year – they are Dutch, but they are my favourite performers. So you can be from anywhere.

– Why did you choose the UK when you can live in Cuba or any other part of the world?

– UK is my home. I’ve been here for 23 years and this is where my friends and family are. This is where the people who supported me to bring me to the level where I’m known around the world now are. This is where it all started, this is my home. So that’s one reason. The second reason is – it’s such an amazing place to live. I live in Camden town, for me it’s the best place – very exciting, crazy and wild! The only thing that we don’t have is good weather. The weather here is so bad! We have only one season for the whole year and that’s grey. But otherwise, it’s a great place to live.

– You’ve been in Vilnius salsa festival 5 times already. Do you think the quality of salsa teaching here is as high as in the UK or any other big Western country?

– Lithuanians have not been doing salsa as long as they’ve been doing it out here in the UK, Italy or France. But by the time Lithuanians have evolved to the time period as we’ve been doing it this long here, I think Lithuania has  a strong chance to even be better, to be honest. There’s not a lot of salsa in Lithuania, but there’s a great level of passion, great level of dancers. But this is only because you’re lucky enough to have great DJs, I was listening to the music of DJ Vytautas “Weedska” Verseckas, he is very knowledgeable of his music, he has a great collection, then got the school “SalsaSisters” that is helping to promote a good level of dance. With the things like that, it’s going to evolve very very quickly to the right direction.

– What do you like the most about Lithuania?

– The people are very passionate, supportive and energetic. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people.

– It’s quite unusual to hear someone describing Lithuanians as “passionate and energetic”. More often they are known as “miserable and cold”.

Biography

1998 choreographed and performed for Bollywood acts

1999 choreographed and performed for MTV

2000 started learning salsa, won “UKA British Amateur Championships”

2001 Winner of the British Threesome Championships

2005 Becomes one of the UK's leading teachers.

2006 Moe now divides his time between teaching, choreographing and performing both in the UK and overseas

2006 Leading role in “El Barrio”, the hit Salsa musical

2006 Moe awarded “UK's Most Popular Cuban Teacher”

2007 Invited to teach and perform at Glastonbury Festival 2007 – featured live on the BBC television coverage and interviewed for Radio One

2007 Moe Flex Dance Company formed

2007 MFD Dance marketing company formed

2008 Choreography for the production of the Middle East salsa congress

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Voted UK Teacher of the Year

2010 Voted Runner-up UK Teacher of the Year

2012–2013 won performers of the year with “OtraDanz“

Worked for BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky1, MTV, MTV live, Virgin and many other international TV broadcasting organisations as head choreographer on many shows, music videos

Official Competition judge

Performed and taught at over 400 festivals around the world

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