Instructor Spotlight: Chris "The Hurricane" SantaMaria

You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, and you shouldn’t judge Chris SantaMaria by literally anything. He’s defined by the unexpected. A serious twerk teacher, dedicated yogi, and puppy lover—Chris is the friend you want leading your rat pack.

This pint-sized, packs-a-punch, put-you-in-your-place New York instructor has been lighting up ((305)) classes for the last six months, and he’s not slowing down. We took a minute to ask Chris a few questions about his journey to ((305)) and what it means to get the people moving.


Chris SantaMaria, looking fly a-f and ready to groove.

Chris SantaMaria, looking fly a-f and ready to groove.

How did you get into dancing?

I started late, but the interest was always there. My mom said that I used to beg to go to my sister’s dance classes when I was a little kid, but Grandpa shut that down pretty fast. When I was 17 I started sneaking into hip hop dance classes and learning street moves whenever I could.

So while other kids were sneaking into parties…

I was sneaking into a rhythm and tap group made up of mostly black and Latina women. Tapping was one of the ways I really started to connect with my rhythm and figure it out. I’m not “classically” trained. If I see somebody doing something with their body that I like, I can just pick it up.

What inspired you to teach dance?

It wasn’t right away. I moved to New York City and I was auditioning a lot. When I was 20, I was up for a part and didn’t get it. It really affected me. I needed to make money, so I started teaching dance classes to supplement my income from a retail store. But it became so much bigger than me.

That’s really tough. How did teaching help?

Not getting the job hit me hard. I was depressed. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last. It’s a tough spot to be in, because nothing “looks” wrong with you. But when I started teaching dance, something changed. Teaching was so much bigger than me. It’s honestly become my calling: helping people live their best life through movement.

DESCRIBE YOUR CLASS IN 5 WORDS:

High-energy
Full-out
Dynamic
Street/hip-hop
Unexpected

That’s incredible. Tell me a little bit about this teacher journey.

I was inspired by Zumba and some of the other fitness classes out there, but it felt cheesy. I wanted to build a class that would take things to next level, and be more fun and creative. I actually developed my own program in New Jersey that had a large following. It was very high-intensity and cardio heavy. When I learned about ((305)) I was surprised how similar and how creative it was. And when I finally met Sadie I was like, “There’s someone just like me out there!”

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO RELAX?

I love to take myself on dates, like the theater or a movie. I’m surrounded by people on the daily, so when I want to take a beat, I do stuff on my own or with my dog Evo.

What is it like to work at ((305))?

It’s intense in the best way. When I auditioned for ((305)) I was actually putting an offer on my own space to open a studio. I told myself, if I don’t get this, I’ll go forward with my plan.

Out of more than 200 dancers from the audition, four of us made it. I was one of them. The universe was speaking to me.

Is it everything you imagined?

It is. ((305)) changes the conversation on body image. It and makes you feel good from the inside out. When I hear people talk about how they’re not in shape enough, not strong enough, or not good enough for something—I get that. I struggled with those same feelings from ages 16-21. But I really believe that happiness is an inside job, and moving your body helps you find your inner fierceness.

That’s really inspiring to hear. Final thought—what would you tell someone who is having those thoughts or is nervous they aren’t fit enough for ((305))?

The first class is always the hardest. There’s plenty of “wtf is this,” thoughts, and that’s totally normal. The magic really happens in that second class and you start to remember some of the choreography. This sort of class is all about muscle memory. When people come back to the second class, that’s where they have that moment of “yes, i can do this.”

Catch up with Chris: