(Hip Hop Dancer, Instructor, Choreographer)
Rob McBay is a born and bred New Jersey native, growing up in Closter, New Jersey. Rob is a passionate dancer, instructor, and choreographer. As we at Progressive Dance Studio can tell you, anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him can see and feel his love of dance.
Rob’s journey to finding his passion for dance did not begin like many dancers who start dancing as young children. Rob initially started as a gymnast until the age of 10, and he then pursued competitive diving for two years. Although he took his first dance classes at the age of 7, his classical dance training didn’t begin until the age of 11 when he became seriously focused on pursuing dance.
As Rob’s enthusiasm and passion for dance grew during high school, he joined the dance company at the studio where he was training. After observing the choreographers and what they did for a living, Rob knew that he wanted to become a professional dancer.
Rob graduated high school from Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest (NVD) and attended college at William Patterson University, graduating with a degree in Marketing. Throughout college, Rob continued his classical dance training in Classical Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary and Lyrical both in New Jersey and New York City. Rob pursued his rigorous training in NYC by taking classes at the legendary Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and other studios. Rob has attended classes taught by well-known instructors Neil Schwartz (Street Jazz), Derrick Mitchell (Street Jazz), and Chio (Jazz-Funk), among others.
Rob’s professional career started when he began choreographing and working with LeA Robinson, the Granddaughter of Hip Hop, and heiress to the Sugar Hill Gang’s legacy. Today, Rob is the main choreographer and creative director for Ms. Robinson and has choreographed the majority of her visuals and live performances, which have been featured in Bravo’s TV show “First Family of Hip Hop”. In addition, Rob has also choreographed the music videos for other artists such as Jeremih, ZHU, Kito, and TT the Artist to name a few, as well as working on the commercial campaigns for Ecco shoes and GotMilk.
Rob joined the faculty of Progressive Dance Studio in the fall of 2019 and we are very fortunate to have him teaching Hip Hop, Jazz, and Contemporary classes. Rob is also a prominent choreographer for our Synergy Dance Company competition team. Jolene Perry, the owner of Progressive Dance Studio, said “Rob is a wonderful addition to our dance family. He is such a talented choreographer. It is amazing to watch his creative process as it is happening. We are thrilled to have him and I can’t wait to see what he does with our students.”
Interview with Rob
Progressive Dance Studio: What is your favorite dance style to perform and to teach?
Robert: My favorite style to perform is hip hop. The dynamics and styles you can get into are a lot of fun, and the energy is definitely contagious. My favorite style to teach is contemporary, as you can tell a story within the choreography and really make it your own.
Progressive Dance Studio: What do you enjoy most about performing?
Robert: What I enjoy most about performing would have to be the adrenaline rush that you feel when you hit that stage. There is no better feeling.
Progressive Dance Studio: When did you start teaching dance and why do you like it?
Robert: I started choreographing when I was a junior in high school at Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest (NVOD), but I did not start teaching until I graduated college. I love teaching because I love seeing the kids progress, and I love instilling the same passion in them as I have for dance.
Progressive Dance Studio: What are the most challenging parts of teaching kids dance?
Robert: Nowadays, I would have to say TikTok has become a very challenging obstacle. Because the majority of TikTok dances focus mainly on the upper body, it is difficult to break the kid’s habits of solely focusing on arm movement. However, I am still grateful that the kids can embrace and incorporate the art of the dance in their everyday lives.
Progressive Dance Studio: What have you learned from your students?
Robert: As a teacher, I have learned that kids use their time in class not only to work hard but to just feel free and dance from their hearts. I’ve learned that kids use that hour or several hours to block out what’s going on in their personal lives to let go and have fun.
Progressive Dance Studio: As a teacher, what is the most important thing you want your students to take away from your classes?
Robert: The most important thing that I would like my students to take away from my class is that you can achieve any goal that you may have if you work hard and set your mind to it. It may not happen overnight, but your persistence and drive will get you to where you want to be. Also, never, ever give up!
Progressive Dance Studio: What is your proudest moment as a choreographer and teacher?
Robert: My proudest moments as a choreographer are not the wins or awards at competition. It is the look my students give me after achieving a goal they have been striving so hard for, and knowing that they have given their best. To have taught them discipline in class, and the art of dance, and to see their self-esteem develop and grow, there is no better feeling!
Progressive Dance Studio: What is your most memorable dance moment?
Robert: My most memorable dance moment on the professional side would be getting to choreograph pieces in a commercial industry. Having the opportunity to dance on TV or choreograph a live show or music video has always been a dream of mine. I am so grateful that I get to do that!
Progressive Dance Studio: What advice would you give a dancer who wants to become a professional?
Robert: Advice that I would give a student that wishes to become a professional would be to train as hard as you can and to network! It is vital to always be bettering yourself as a dancer and to continue taking class. Consistency is key. It is also just as important to network with other dancers and choreographers. And last but not least never, ever, ever give up! Hard work truly pays off.
Progressive Dance Studio: What’s the best part of teaching at Progressive Dance Studio?
Robert: The best part of teaching at Progressive is not only the warm and inviting environment that the staff instills, but it’s the passion the kids have for dance. Every kid I work with truly wants to be there and become better at their craft. I have worked with tons of kids, and I must say these are some of the most dedicated artists I have worked with during my career so far.
Progressive Dance Studio: What are you looking forward to this coming year at Progressive Dance Studio?
Robert: I am definitely looking forward to working with my students more, and seeing what they’re going to do with all of the pieces that we’re working on this year. I am also looking forward to doing more interactive projects with them throughout the year. I have some fun things in store for them.
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“If you look at a dancer in silence, his or her body will be the music. If you turn the music on, that body will become an extension of what you’re hearing.” —Judith Jamison