Michelle Krichilsky was a regular in the group ex classes at her family’s JCC — until one fateful day when her instructor didn’t show. Michelle offered to fill in and she’s been teaching dance fitness ever since. Read on to learn more about this 29-year-old Center City resident and some of the moves she’ll be bringing to the upcoming Bootylicious Beyoncé Workshop on November 17!
Philly Dance Fitness: Tell us more about how you fell into teaching.
Michelle: In 2013, I became very interested in fitness, and people would often ask me if I was an instructor after seeing me in group classes at the Cherry Hill JCC. One day, the usual instructor didn’t show up, so I volunteered to lead the class. The instructor who taught the last class offered to stay and supervise. I pulled up whatever music I had on my phone and made up a class on the spot. The supervising instructor was blown away. I was hired as a dance sub and got my group exercise certification shortly after that. When I moved to Philly in 2015, I became certified to lead House Party Fitness (a format created by Brooke Blair, who also teaches at PDF) and began subbing for other instructors. Soon, I was leading my own classes.
What do you enjoy teaching most?
Over the past almost four years at Philly Dance Fitness, I’ve taught Cardio Pop, Dance Party Boot Camp, the annual Beyoncé workshops and occasional Frisky Friday striptease dance parties. Dance Party Boot Camp is my favorite because I think it offers the most variety in a single 50-minute class. I can combine all kinds of music genres and fitness moves to create something different each time. Some weeks I say, “Let’s work on our core,” or, “Let’s go across the floor and do spider walks.” Another week I’ll say, “We’re going to do a boot camp circuit and also incorporate Beyoncé, hip-hop and Zumba.”
Why do you like being an instructor?
When I’m teaching, I love when it feels like I’m a fellow student and we’re all just having a good time dancing and hanging out together. On the flip side, this job also forces me to work out every week!
What should students expect at the “Bootylicious Beyoncé” workshop that you’re team-teaching this weekend?
A diverse mix of dances to 90 minutes of nothing but Beyoncé music. This workshop is especially fun because there are three imaginative and energized women teaching and no two songs are alike. Maya, Deborah and I each bring unique styles and moves to the dance floor. Anyone who comes will not be bored! We always incorporate Beyoncé’s signature moves, but we’ll also throw in other hip-hop steps and interactive routines where we’ll face the students toward each other. I even teach a short locking combination.
What’s one of your favorite iconic Beyoncé dance moves?
I have a bunch! One is from her 7/11 music video, where she stands on one leg and bends the other in the air while shaking her butt. I’m incorporating that move into a new routine I choreographed for this year’s workshop.
What else do you do when you’re not in the studio?
I’m a data analytics consultant by day. Outside of the office, I love to travel and go outdoors — hike, bike, swim, anything active. Besides dancing, my other passion is performing. I’m a singer and musician. Since 2014, I’ve been volunteering through Musicians On Call, singing with my ukulele once a month for patients at Jefferson Hospital. Since I enjoy singing so much, I wanted to share my voice with people who needed it. I’ve also sung at some of the burlesque shows that Philly Dance Fitness co-produced.
Tell us something your students might not know about you.
I speak three languages: Hebrew, Spanish and English!
Join Michelle at Dance Party Boot Camp on Tuesdays and Cardio Pop on Fridays, both at our Midtown Village location. And, of course, you can learn her Bey moves at the Bootylicious Beyoncé Workshop coming up this Saturday, Nov. 17 in the South Philly studio.
– Interview by marketing intern Alexa Stutman, edited for brevity and clarity