Living the American dream. Lucian’s incredible journey from a tailor in Romania, deeply in love with dancing, to the owner of five dance studios in America

Living the American dream. Lucian’s incredible journey from a tailor in Romania, deeply in love with dancing, to the owner of five dance studios in America

20 years ago, Lucian Stanila was a tailor in Sibiu, a small city of about 100.000 inhabitants in Romania. In his free time, he was dancing like Michael Jackson and he was dreaming. His dream was about dancing and laughing, about good people, positivity and trust that if you are truly good and work hard for your dream, miracles can happen. Now, he owns five dance studios in New Jersey, one in Bucharest, has a wonderful family and he is happy. An incredible story about fight, trust, positive thinking, ambition, hard work and simple, pure happiness.

When you talk to Lucian (42 years old), you have the feeling of meeting an old friend, although it’s your first discussion. He is modest, opened and assumed, talking naturally about every part of his life, the battles, the difficulties and the succes that hasn’t changed his deep, good values and his way of acting.

If you hadn’t known the story, you could easily think that you are talking to the boy next door. But you’re not. You are talking to a very good dancer and business man, who had built a success story in America starting from nothing but his faith and his good, positive thinking.

Eyes wide open, dreaming of “the new world”

“I grew up in a simple family”, that’s how he begins his story, with a piece of his heart back, on the streets of his childhood. When he was 10, his father died and the shock was huge. The child started becoming an adult at the age when others are just laughing and playing. Nothing was the same anymore. “It’s been a huge shock for me, we had him with us today and the next day he was gone. We can’t control everything, we just need to accept, to be strong and go on, the time is healing”, he says.

LBefore his fathers’s death, at the age of 7, another person that he was very attached to left. Not died, but left thousands of miles away. His cousin, who lived next to them and was his best friend, moved with his family to America. “My first thought of living one day in America was back then. I just felt something. And I was dreaming with my eyes wide open that, one day, I will also get there”.

The revelation from a winter morning. America

After his father’s death, his mother remarried and they moved into her new husband’s house, “a man who was very good to us”. The young boy failed the exam to highschool and, because he had to wait one year to try again, a family friend helped him to start as a disciple in a workshop where fur clothes were made. There wasn’t the best work enviorement – the disciples were very badly treated – but he learnt how to work with other people and how to act to gain their respect.

From that period – he was 14 or 15 years old – dates a revelation that had changed the course of his life completely. It’s been a cold winter morning, the road was full of mud, he was going to work and he was thinking. “It’s been like a spark, I felt that Good was there”, he says. He was angry, nervous, felt that people were bad, that they kept on complaining about everything, in their opinion the state was at fault all the time for their unhappiness. And he also felt that there was all the time this tendency of judging people. “But I was acting and thinking the same. And that morning, crossing an old railroad, I promised myself I would never accept to speak about other people badly, I would never be negative, that I would change myself completely. And from that moment on I started to act completely different”.

He had been disciple for 4 years, and after that worked as a fur tailor for another 6, till he left for America, at the age of 24. And even this seemed like meant to happen – some missionaries from America came to Sibiu, his sister fell in love with their son, they got married and moved to US, and called him – that’s how he succeded in getting the visa.

The young boy who was dancing like Michael Jackson. The chance

When he got to America he knew he won’t come back – although all he had was tailoring, his personality, a huge passion, music and dance – and that’s another story, maybe the most beautiful of his soul. The soul of a boy who felt in love with dance and Michael Jackson’s music when he was a child, who was dancing like Michael Jackson, who had a dance troup, who started the passion of his life with freestyle, breakdance, tournaments through the country, love for every moment when he was dancing and hope – that someday, somewhere, somehow, he will just dance and he will be happy.

Up to that moment, he climbed many stairs. At first, he lived with his sister and brother in law and cleaned american’s houses. “I cleaned everything – the caves of the monkeys, because people had monkeys as pets, gardens, toilets – everything just to have satisfied clients”, he says.

Up to one moment.

“I’ve met a Romanian man, who had taken me with him to a party. And when I heard the music I just danced – and it has been like in the old times, in Romania, when I was the “soul” of the parties – except that the party was now in Oklahoma, in the United States”. A woman who had a dance school was at that party, and just went straight to him and asked him if he wanted to work for her – go and teach at her dancing school.

To New York from Tulsa, Oklahoma

That was the beginning. At that school, training with his partener for competitions, was watching on video tapes a couple of American dance champions, wonderful dancers, inspiration. He didn’t know, but on the next contest they were in, those dance champions were part of the jury. When the man came to him after the contest, he was shocked. “He told me wow, you’re good, what are you doing here, in Tulsa, Oklahoma?”, he remembers, laughing.

And he also called him to New York. “I couldn’t believe my ears – your idol to invite you at his own house”. So he took the same decision he had taken when he was 14, crossed the old railroad and made a promise – just to be positive, not to act badly to anyone and to appreciate everything that he had.

With 100 dollars he bought a very old car, that pulled out the smoke on every little part, put his clothes in it and went to New York.

From a passion to six dance studios

In the end, he didn’t fit to the champions’s school, but the man recommended him to a very good friend, manager in a dance company. “And when I got there, when I entered the door, I just felt that I will be there for the rest of my life”, he says.

They didn’t want to hire him at first because he did not have much experience, so he just asked them to leave him work for free, 1 or 2 weeks, to show them what he was capable of. He excellently communicated with students and everything worked just perfect, and just after a few days they told him they won’t let him leave.

The studio was the place where he met Sarah, his wonderful wife. They have a 2 year old boy together, the most beautiful gift life has given to them.

7 years later, he became the owner of the studio, after other 4 years they took the 2-nd one, then a studio in Bucharest, Romania, and 3 more in the US. They now have 6 studios and his ex-boss works for them as consultant. They teach any kind of dance that is suitable for couples, from waltz to merengue, and between 40 and 80 people are training in every studio.

Dance and the house from his heart. The key to happiness

When you ask Lucian about dance, what it means to him, you feel his trembling voice. His pure, deep emotion, when he tells you about the conection, God and the Universe, the feeling that is unique and magic. “You have the feeling that you are authentic, simply yourself, that nothing negative can touch you, everything is just freedom and joy”, he says.

“Where’s home?”, I ask him, with the feeling that mine is both in Norway and Romania, with a piece of soul for every of them. “For me home is when I succed not to be distracted by negativity, when I am happy with myself I create my home wherever I am”, he says.

This positivity, in any circumstances, is actually the key to happiness, he thinks. So we have to think good, feel good, give up judging people, trust our chance, do what we love and fight for our dream, until we see it comming true. “There’s nothing more beautiful than the power to be a positive and good person, the power of God and of the Universe. You never give up, you never stop”, he says.

Lucian and Romania. The time who stops in grandparent’s house from Bratovesti

Because at the beginning he had no american identity acts, Lucian couldn’t come back to Romania very quickly. He succeded in doing this only 4 years and a half after he left. During this period, his step father and his gradfather died, and he couldn’t get to the funerals. It’s been a terrible pain.

Now, he comes much more often. He misses people, places, food, feelings, smells, the nature. He simply loves the country, with all her good and bad parts. And, although he had seen a lot of beautiful places, he tells you from the bottom of his heart that the most beautiful place on earth is at Bratovesti, the village of his grandparents and of his childhood. The time simply stops there, he is calm, good with himself and happy. “Any kind of stress simply goes away, I feel purified, it’s like nothing bad can touch me. Whatever happens, I see things differently when I get there”.

Do you know a very special person? Someone who has followed his dream, built it piece by piece, with passion, energy and lot of soul? An usual, simple person who did something in life, who you can identify with, who can be, for others, a source of inspiration? Tell me about that person and let’s tell the others his/her beautiful story. Write me at, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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