- Jon Hart
Confessions of a College Basketball Coach Dance Instructor
Below is the transcript of an interview from Eyes Everywhere on March Madness (EEMM), an independent college basketball watchdog group, and freelance dance teacher Danny Moves. The interview was conducted prior to the 2023 season.
EEMM: Is Danny Moves your real name?
MOVES: I consider it my real name, but it’s my stage name.
EEMM: So, it’s an alias?
MOVES: It’s the name that I’m registered under with Screen Actors Guild.
EEMM: You have no basketball experience whatsoever yet you’re meeting with elite college coaches all over the country. Why?
MOVES: Correct, I have no basketball experience, nor do I want any. I’m a dance teacher.
EEMM: That’s one we haven’t heard before [laughing]. I’ll ask again: Why are you meeting with these coaches?
MOVES: I’m teaching them dance moves.
EEMM: You’re kidding.
MOVES: Absolutely not. I work with coaches on their post-game locker room celebration dance moves. Dancing is an effective bonding tool. When players see their coach dancing, they become more relatable. If players like their coach more, they play harder, and that leads to more wins, at least in theory.
EEM: So what you’re saying is that a dancing coach will help win games?
MOVES: Yes. Just look at New York Giants football Coach Brian Daboll. He’s a dancing fool, and he completely turned around his team in just one season.
EEMM: Were you his teacher?
MOVES: No. But with my help, I could diversify his routine and take it to an entirely different level. The Giants could make the Super Bowl, and he’d win Dancing with The Stars.
EEMM: Who were your favorite coaches to teach?
MOVES: Impossible to answer. There are so many. I had quite a journey with Jim Boeheim, Syracuse’s coach. He’s the oldest coach in D 1, and he’s, ah, very set in his ways. Last year, his team didn’t make the NCAAs. It was a fragile situation.
EEMM: What happened?
MOVES: He was very resistant. He stood me up twice before we had an actual session. When we did meet, he said, “I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m not Dick Vitale!”
EEMM: How'd you get through to him?
MOVES: Eventually. I showed Coach Boeheim footage of Coach K dancing at a corporate appearance, and I played some Bruce Springsteen music videos. I heard that he loves The Boss. Anyway, after he saw the Glory Days video, he finally gave in, and we worked on some low impact moves very similar to the ones that Bruce does in his Dancing in The Dark video, with a few flourishes. Coach Boeheim got into it, and he gave me a Syracuse basketball sweatshirt, which I cannot wear, at least in public, because I must be unbiased.
EEMM: Who compensated you for this?
MOVES: Coach Boeheim’s employer, Syracuse University.
EEMM: Do coaches ever pay you out of their own pocket?
MOVES: It’s less common, but it happens. UMass Coach Frank Martin paid me out of his own pocket. He was between coaching jobs, and he was looking for a competitive edge.
EEMM: What was Coach Martin like to work with?
MOVES: Coach Martin was great, but he lives to talk. Everything is a passionate sermon. After a lot of encouragement, I got him to take his verbal skills and transfer it to his body. The result: Frank Martin is a magnificent break dancer. He can really spin on that bald head of his. I expect his dancing to eventually play huge dividends for UMass basketball.
EEMM: Did any coaches refuse your instruction?
MOVES: Well, besides Coach Boeheim, who eventually came around, no. But Arkansas’s Eric Musselman refused to stop removing his shirt. He’s the Magic Mike of college basketball. He’s really proud of his torso. But, and I told him this, he takes off his shirt way too often. It has become a crutch, and he has lost the element of surprise. I want my students to never be predictable. I challenged Coach Musselman to keep his shirt on. We developed some new moves, quite acrobatic in fact, but ultimately, Coach Musselman insisted on removing his shirt at the end of each routine. He explained that it’s his signature move, and his players love it. Coach Musselman seemed satisfied with our sessions. He sent me an autographed photo of himself, shirtless of course.
EEMM: What’s next for you?
MOVES: Well, Miami’s Jim Larranaga is perfecting his moonwalk, so that’s exciting. I'm also looking to expand. Right now, my clientele consists solely of men’s college basketball coaches, but I want to step into the women’s game. I’d love to hire a female instructor at some point. I’d also like hope to branch out to football. For reasons I can't explain NBA and hockey coaches refuse to dance, which is an enormous mistake.
Jon Hart is @manversusball