Steffanina gave Leno some moves.
Courtesy Matt Steffanina
Three years ago, hip-hop dancer Matt Steffania was a wildly popular instructor at ACAC and at dance studios around Charlottesville. Now he’s teaching and working all over the world with artists including Chris Brown, Eva, Snoop Dog and Lil' Wayne. Most recently, his raw talent caught the attention of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, whose website picked Steffanina and his Youtube videos for a contest.
"I just got a message on Twitter. It said, 'Congrats, you're in the favorite dancer contest,'" recalls Steffanina, who made it to the top 10 before being eliminated.
"It was really great publicity and a chance for people to show support," says Steffanina, who headed to L.A. in 2010 without a specific plan. Initially he crashed on a friend's couch while looking for his own place and auditioning every day.
"I was really lucky— I got picked up by an agent after a month and a half," says Steffanina, who quickly booked some small jobs before landing a few higher profile gigs including dancing during a Snoop Dogg performance on So You Think You Can Dance and donning a wig and fat suit to serve as a breakdancing body double for legendary Tonight Show host Jay Leno.
Steffanina’s big break came, he says, when he was hired as a dancer for popular house music diva Eva. The tour of 22 major U.S. cities turned out to be not only fortuitous professionally, but personally as well, as he met fellow dancer and now fiancée, Dana Alexa.
“We've been working together a lot, and we do a lot of teaching,” Steffanina says, describing a recent three-month tour in China in which the couple and several other dancers performed in high-end Chinese night clubs.
Today Steffanina teaches weekly at the International Dance Academy and just started teaching at the famed Millennium dance studio in Hollywood. He also conducts dance workshops and continues to choreograph dance routines for various artists and performers.
“I think our biggest long term goal is to choreograph for a major artist,” Steffanina says, speaking for himself and Alexa. “We'd really like to be in control of how things go, put a vision into place with a big artist whose music we like and can really work well with.”
For now, Steffanina says, he and Alexa are keeping a hectic teaching schedule. This summer, they'll tour cities all over the country offering classes, and Charlottesville dancers may get a chance to learn from the duo when they come to town early this fall.
Until then, you can check out Steffanina's Youtube channel, which features his choreography and a variety of tutorials.