Monte: Passing on His Craft to Students While Continuing to Cultivate It

  • Alexandra Hull ’22

Known for his casual and cool personality, stellar dance moves, and angel-like guardianship over the freshman classes year after year, Monte has practically become an idol at SHP throughout his time here. When he is not killing it on the Warrior’s court at halftime or diligently planning each spirit week activity months in advance, you can catch him socializing with students in the cafeteria or working on new choreography to teach to his different dance classes. Although most students feel as though they know Monte pretty well, this article aims to help deepen such knowledge as we dissect the background of this iconic faculty member. 

Monte began his dancing career at the age of seven. He recalls watching a TV show and seeing background dancers on stage, and being immediately drawn to their movements and abilities. He was inspired and not long after began dance classes at a nearby studio. Today, most people consider Monte to be solely a “hip-hopper,” as that is the genre he typically teaches. However, he shared that it took awhile for him to narrow down to his favorite dance category. As a child he took just about every genre of dance, including ballet, Russian character, tap, jazz, musical theatre, and contemporary. But once he discovered hip-hop, he was hooked. 

After years of honing his hip-hop skills, Monte recently decided to try-out for the Golden State Warrior’s dance team. He explained just how daunting the process was, and how each round of cuts added to a growing sense of pressure and determination to make the team. But, after years of practice, Monte knew how to deal with the stress and pulled through to earn a spot on the exclusive dance team. So far he has loved being on the team and working with other advanced dancers in a professional setting.

One of his favorite parts of this opportunity is when students or even strangers come up to him and let him know that they saw him shine on the court during halftime. But, this opportunity comes with great responsibility. Monte shared just how demanding the routines can sometimes be, and how although he loves doing what makes him happy, it has required him to have thicker skin.

Inevitably, during the fast-paced, intense halftime shows, mistakes are made and Monte has learned how to deal with corrections from coaches, even when they are sometimes harsh. However, on the whole, his experience on the Warrior’s dance team has been very positive, making him a better performer and expanding his dance boundaries. 

Even though being a professional dancer takes up a large chunk of time, Monte’s main occupation remains at SHP, where he is an active dance teacher and dean of student life. This school year marks his ninth year teaching dance here at the Prep. Dance classes vary between beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Along with the help of Ms. Benjamin, Monte enjoys creating new choreography for and helping prepare for winter and spring performances.

Although it is sometimes difficult to balance such a busy schedule, Monte explained that, despite the often demanding aspects of his job, being a teacher and getting to share his passion with other students makes it all worth it. He also detailed how walking into the dance studio is like entering into a portal which completely eradicates any other stress he is facing at the moment. Having the opportunity to step away from the chaos of life, even for a brief moment, is yet another reason why he values his job as a teacher, and enjoys sharing the gift of dance with his students year after year.

Photo provided by Josh Leung

By Axel de Vernou

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