Heidi Asefvaziri (far left) opened Street HEAT Dance Company in January as a way to offer less-expensive classes to students. From second to left, dancers Edgar Calvo, Kendra Brewer and Alyssa Dahlstedt have been members of the studio since the beginning. Photo courtesy Graeme Johnson.

As a dance teacher, the one thing that really upsets Cal Poly business administration junior Heidi Asefvaziri are students who have to quit her class because they can’t afford the payments. So she came up with her own solution: open her own street hip-hop studio.

Last month, that idea became reality. Asefvaziri, a former hip-hop teacher for the Academy of Dance, opened up the Street HEAT Dance Company in San Luis Obispo so she could charge less for students who love hip-hop but can’t afford the fees at other studios.

“When someone leaves my studio because they can’t afford it, that affects the teacher,” Asefvaziri said. “No one wants to see money be an issue for anyone’s passion and I’m the first person to step up and say I’m not going to let money be a restriction to keep someone from doing what they love.”

Asefvaziri didn’t discover her own love for dance until she took a class in April 2009. She said even though during her first class she “unbelievably sucked,” she went home feeling that this was something she was meant to do.

Over the next couple of months, she took as many classes as she could before being asked to take over as an instructor for the advanced hip-hop class in June. After choreographing and performing in a dance routine for the academy in September, Asefvaziri said she realized her true passion lay in teaching students. Everything, she said, just went from there.

“I just had a plethora of choreography that I just wanted to download on somebody so I just started dancing and coming up with stuff and teaching it to other people,” Asefvaziri said.

The students she has taught so far keep coming back. Cal Poly microbiology senior Edgar Calvo first started taking classes from Asefvaziri when she was teaching at the academy last year. Calvo, fairly new to choreography, was asked by Asefvaziri to dance in a promotional video for her new studio with fellow dancers Alyssa Dahlstedt and Kendra Brewer. From there, Calvo said he discovered Asefvaziri’s passion for hip-hop. It is her excitement and innovation that keeps him returning each week.

“Heidi has a passion for hip-hop dance like no one I’ve met in San Luis Obispo and I just kind of gravitated toward that,” Calvo said. “The choreography is something you can’t really find in San Luis Obispo.”

Asefvaziri recognized not only an open market for hip-hop in San Luis Obispo, but for street hip-hop, a different form of the popular dance style. Street hip-hop, Asefvaziri said, has more to do with general choreography than technical moves. The style includes popping and locking, both of which rely on the performer to move their body in sometimes fast and strict movements.

As the sole choreographer at Street HEAT Dance Company, Asefvaziri teaches classes meant for intermediate to experienced dancers who already have a background in hip-hop but Asefvaziri encourages people of all experience levels to attend a class.

“For my class, you come already knowing (the steps),” Asefvaziri said. “So when I lock or pop, I don’t have to break it down for you, people are already going to know what it is. I don’t slow down the pace of my class or anything but they love the music and they’re highly energized. They’re completely lost but they love the energy and everything that comes with it.”

But Dahlstedt said Asefvaziri’s devotion to her students is what should bring beginning dancers to the studio. Dahlstedt, who has been dancing with Asefvaziri since the Academy and is now a regular at the new studio, said a lot of what makes the classes so fun is Asefvaziri’s “warm spirit” and her willingness to help students learn the dance outside of class.

“She’s basically willing to do anything to support her students,” Dahlstedt said. “She’s not doing it to make money, she’s doing it because she has a passion for dance and I think that’s really cool.”

Street HEAT Dance Company is located at 207 Suburban Road, unit 13. Asefvaziri offers a coed advanced hip-hop class Thursday nights at 7:30 and a women’s only class Friday nights at 6:30.

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3 Comments

  1. i love too dance and i want to be a hip-hop teacher one day . but i have only taken three hip hop class but i have been dancing for about six years now .can you help me find out what i should do from this point on .

  2. join pce modern, or csa modern. you don’t have to be Asian to join it. its free dancing.

    and learn how to count too!

  3. haha, yes! join pce modern! or dance with our friends at csa modern! we love to dance and learn a lot of dances throughout the year. come hang out!

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