Dancing changes you – that’s what Jump In Crew says for its visitors on their website. That’s interesting because anybody can dance – without any changes – or can’t they? Leo Loránt Lantos is one of the main choreographers and instructors of the crew with 6 years of experience, specialized on hip hop and street dance art. Let’s see what we misunderstood about this way of expressing ourselves.
How did you realize that dancing is your destiny? Why breakdance and hip hop and not just waltzing around? Tell us a bit about your carrier.
Well, actually all this dancing story has started with a little lie. Long story short, on my first English class in high school – I was studying arts at Art College ’’Aurel Popp’’, Satu-Mare – I was asked by my teacher about my hobbies, so randomly I answered: I’m a breakdancer. This wasn’t true at that time, but after a while, I really started dancing as a hobby, and it has become my lifestyle. When I was 14, I spent my teenage hood somehow alone. My parents were living in Budapest, my sister left to Portugal, so I was kind of an independent child. I always prefered spending my time useful by doing stuff I love and combining fun with work. We had our own dance crew, me and my friends from childhood. We were training together, spending almost every hour at a gym that we had rented for a whole summer. Dancing became my passion, my life. Without music and moving around, I couldn’t imagine myself, it helped me go through loneliness. After high school and after a ‘’working trial’’ in Portugal (what I experienced there actually helped me to decide what I should do with my life), I moved to Cluj-Napoca, my favorite city EVER! Since I am here, I have been trying so hard to create my own opportunities to grow and to become remarkable in the Romanian Dancing Community – the fact is that in my first year in Cluj-Napoca, I was practicing every night on the streets, because there were no other places to go, and only after almost one year, I found my place and tried to find options to develop. My teenage experiences had helped me a lot in being an independent student in this big city. This invisible energy of Cluj was pushing me towards wanting more and more, also I knew that I could do more because I also wanted it really much. Since I moved here, I have been one of the first choreographers to have won the National Hip Hop Championships from the town, this is how I started writing my name into the transylvanian hip hop history books. I was looking forward to growing so I could help others create their own opportunities and make a job out of passion. After 9 years of hard work, in 2019 I became the coach of many National and International Dance Crews, Co-founder of Jump In Dance Company from CCS Cluj, Coach and Choreographer of Domino Crew Cluj, National Judge at ‘’Hip Hop International Romania’’. I’m collaborating with many studios from Transylvania and also with Choreographing Entertainment Shows in Greece.
What do you call a dance? What are the boundaries, when can we talk about dance?
For me, personally, dancing makes music visible. It is the most beautiful and expressive body language I know. When you dance, you are not thinking about tomorrow, about yesterday, you are simply living for the moment. So yes, if you ask me, ‘’Dancing is freedom’’.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Since you don’t just show some moves, you create them as well.
After all these years I’ve met so many dancers/artists, idols, who inspired my conception about dancing, my way of thinking, creativity. It’s really important to find useful information about what you do, to know the background and the basics of dancing, so you can understand it.
‘’ Learn the rules like a pro and break them like an artist.’’ Pablo Picasso.
The first time I heard about the Hip Hop Culture was in 2012, when I already had won a National Hip Hop Contest with my crew. Then I realized that dancing is not as easy as it sounds. First you have to know the basics and then use your ‘’vocabulary’’ of music and then make it your own way. Someone once said ‘’It’s better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation’’.
Which is the hardest part to learn? Are there any limits, that you couldn’t go through?
Limits in dancing… after you taste a bit of all the dance styles you were interested in, you just choose which suits you more. My choreographies are mostly based on combined vibes, so the composition I make includes more dance styles. I am always playing with the speed and rhythm of the songs I choose, in order to be more playful, joyful.
What did you have to develop in order to be a good teacher?
This is a tricky question actually, first of all, you have to learn to be patient and also open-minded. I was also learning from the people around me, mostly the things that they did wrong. I always tried to avoid them, so I’ve learned a lot from others’ mistakes, not only in my professional life, also in ‘’real’’ life. A good teacher needs passion, requires to love what you share, and also to be sure that you always give some relevant information. For this, you need experience, without it you will never be sure that you’re right. You have to try things before judging them. So, my answer in short is: I have developed my life and myself at the same time.
Maybe it is a bit of a silly question, but it is frequently asked by people that don’t practice dance: does a dancer move in clubs like in American movies? I mean, are they showing off their talent, or they just move to the rhythm?
I promise. Nothing is like American movies. It always depends on the people and also the party, but mostly on the characters.
What is the difference between dancing in a crew and standing alone on the stage? Do you feel comfortable performing on your own?
It’s always hard, but only until you go on stage. When I’m on stage I feel like a different person, but it also feels like home. With the crew, I always feel confident before and also after the show.
You have been traveling a lot across Transylvania because of the competitions, which is your favorite place that you would recommend for travelers?
First of all, I have to tell you about my hometown, Carei, where you can check out the Karoly Castle – recently, there was shot a movie, too. This city gave me the best childhood ever. For the travelers I would suggest visiting EVERYTHING around here, the entire region is very beautiful and definitely do not skip Cluj-Napoca.
Besides the dance carrier, you have an outstanding talent for portraits, cartooning people and caricature. How did this start? Is this just a hobby or people can search up on you and ask for a cartoon portrait?
In the beginning, I was telling you about my high school years, when I also started dancing, I think somehow everything has come together. I always wanted to do what I love the most, to never feel that I’m working. So as you know, my parents were living in Budapest and I was here in Romania. I was 12 when I found a Playboy magazine in my father’s office. I don’t really know what was passing my mind, but I wanted to draw those girls as Jack did it in Titanic. So I took a pencil and paper and I just started sketching them. This is how we realized that I’m really talented. Then my mom brought me every month a Playboy magazine.
I found out from my friends that there is an art college in Satu-Mare, so I chose that instead of Mathematics and Informatics. My mom wasn’t really happy about it, but when I had the entrance examination of the school she was more excited than me. So yes, long story short, I studied arts, Graphic Fine arts. I was trying to be independent and also I was thinking about my future, me and one of my good friends started our own art exhibition at the age of 16, which was organized in the amazing Castel from Carei. It was a beautiful experience, I also sold some work there. As an artist, you have to find a way to be a good businessman, too. I made compositions, portraits, illustrations, wall paintings and when I was at University I started working as a caricaturist, back in 2011. Now I have projects not only in Romania, but also in Greece.
So yes, it is not only a hobby, right now I’m a cartoonist and also training drawers to make cartoons so that they can help me with my projects, events and also can get a job in Greece as a cartoonist. You can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CaricaturiLeo or on Instagram as @LorantLeoLantos, @LorantLeo-Entertainment CjRo.
What are your top 5 go-to tips and tricks to dance properly in clubs and to catch the rhythm (or a partner)?
- Take some dance lessons, to be at least convinced about what you’re doing.
- Your outfit is always important. For example, in a skinny shirt, you won’t be really awesome, killing the beat.
- A dancer never shows off, it’s just going with the flow, be humble.
- Even if you don’t know what you’re doing out there, on the dance floor, at least try to have a positive vibe – girls always like that.
- Feel good about yourself, be confident, even if you can’t dance. As I said, your vibe is the most important part of clubbing and catching a partner.