The fluorescent lights are dimmed, you can’t see much, but the outline of a young man sitting in front of a few computer monitors. The sign above your head says “TAXES”. All of a sudden the lights go on and you see someone familiar from dance. Is that Ron Garber?
Ron started dancing at a young age and has won numerous titles including becoming the United States Youth National Champion at the age of 17 and a finalist in the WDC World Under 21 finalist. In addition to training and competing, Ron also received his business degree from Northeastern University and has gone on to become a tax professional. Read on to find out more about Ron and how he balances both his dancing and his profession.
Ron started dancing after his parents put him in dance classes,“I moved to the US from Israel when I was 8 years old, and about a year later my mom was looking for something for me to do where I would be interacting with other kids, because my English wasn’t that good. So she put me in dance classes. First, I was resistant, but then I really liked it, I liked dancing with the girls. Then I was sold on it and once I started competing, I was the one asking for my parents to get me dance lessons, and not the other way around.”
Ron and his partner Klaudia began dancing together in 2018. “1 year prior to dancing together, we met at a competition in Miami and our connection was instant and a relationship soon followed. After we both split from our previous partners, we decided to give dancing a go with each other. Many were skeptical of our partnership at first, but despite our differences we made it work and overcame many obstacles."
Even though Ron is known to the ballroom world as a dancer, he also has another title: Accountant, “I never had the plan to be an accountant. I always wanted to be a dancer, but my parents were always very insistent on me going to college and to finish school. I think at some point in high school, I came home and said ‘forget college, I don’t need this, I’m just going to be a dancer', but going to college was an integral part for my family’s culture, so despite my wishes to dance full time I decided to take my parents advice and continue with school. Of all things I could have learned at business school, Accounting was the one that clicked with me most even though I majored in both accounting and finance. I’ve always had a bit of a knack for numbers. Those 4 years were really hard because I was dancing in New York, but going to college in Boston. My weeks were crazy. After my last class on Thursdays, I would catch a bus to NYC and five hours later I would be in the studio practicing with my partner, just to go back for my Monday 8am class and do it all over again. It was exhausting! However, after that happened, I actually used my accounting skills to get me to New York full-time. At a career fair in college, I found a firm that was looking for an intern to work at their office in New York City. Right away it clicked for me that this would be my ticket in, and I could actually make some money to pay for all my dance lessons and competitions. Although it was hard to manage both work and dance, I was already used to shuffling school and dance, so I used that skill set to make it work. I guess it was a good fit because I am still working at this firm several years later. Currently, my position is Supervisor in the Private Client Tax Group."
It’s not just dancing Ron can help you with, but also your taxes, “I would label myself as a tax professional, which is one of many types of careers paths that accountants can choose. I think there is a certain image people get in their minds when I tell them I’m an accountant, but actually it’s pretty accurate. I go to an office, I sit in a cubicle, and work off of 3 computer monitors, but what most don't realize is that every day I get to work with brilliant people and service some very prestigious clients all of which I find intriguing. Due to my love for dance, I was able to concentrate my practice specifically on clients in the art industry, which includes art galleries, musicians and entertainers.”
After the onset of the pandemic, Ron became even more grateful for his job,“The pandemic has made me really grateful to have this job because I realized how sustainable it can be. Covid-19 has really put stress on the dance industry and as a result many studios have had to close their doors, some even for good. In my opinion being self-employed as a dance instructor can be extremely risky as there is never a guaranteed amount of work. Meanwhile for tax professionals, this year has been extremely busy and challenging, as new legislature has caused some deadlines to shift but also created new opportunities for clients. With the extended filing deadline October 15th fast approaching, this is one of the busiest times of the year for me. Currently I am working between 50-70 hours a week, which is certainly challenging, but I am grateful to have the work.”
Being a tax professional, as well as a dancer means that you have to get creative with your practice schedule, “Because mine and my partner’s schedules are so different we have to make every opportunity to practice happen. Meaning there are days when we have to train very early in the morning or very late at night. Productivity is key in keeping such an extreme schedule and being organized helps a lot. Over the last few years I’ve learned how to structure my days so that I can get as much done as possible, although it always feels like I can do more. ”
Recently, Ron and Klaudia returned to the tri-state area after staying in Florida for a few months, “ Klaudia’s family lives in Florida, so when COVID-19 hit, we decided it would be safest to get out of the city for a while. That was at the end of March, and we ended up being there for 4 months. Even though we were limited in what we could do day to day while being in quarantine, it was actually a blessing because we got a chance to reflect on our goals and make new plans for the future. Having to suddenly uproot our lives and adjust to the new norm was scary but proved that we are capable of adapting and making the best of any situation. Now that we are back in New Jersey it feels like life is moving again, but of course we cant predict what the near future will look like and where we’ll end up. All I know for certain is that as long as we have a space to practice we can continue dancing and improving, whether its a studio or my living room."
Outside of being an accountant and a dancer, Ron enjoys the outdoors, “Lately, I’ve been working out a lot! I’ve been working a lot on my fitness and nutrition. Actually, before all this happened and the gyms were still open, I was starting to get into rock climbing. I was taking some rock climbing classes. In general, I’m a really outdoorsy guy, and I get that from my parents. We often go skiing in the Winter and hiking in the Summer. It just sucks, because unfortunately a lot of that couldn’t happen this year. Maybe it will still happen!”
For Ron, the hardest part about balancing dancing and work is, “Time. There is never enough of it. Sleep is crucial, but how much sleep you get depends on how much rest you’re willing to sacrifice. With high ambitions and a lack of time, we have to really compromise to make it happen. Things like dating and going on vacation don't really exist for me and Klaudia, but are instead replaced with more time in the studio or traveling to competitions, and honestly we would not have it any other way. But on the off chance that we do get to go out to dinner, we always end up having a really good time because we are both so appreciative of this rare occasion. This is a really make it or break it kind of lifestyle, and I believe it only works if both people in the relationship or partnership share a similar amount of drive
So if Ron could go back in time and give his younger self advice, what would it be? “I think the most important thing that I would tell myself is never be comfortable. Comfort is the death of progress and if you are not striving for that vision of your future self then you have surely checked out. It’s easy to fall into the vicious cycle of the day to day, but if you keep pursuing your true passion you will eventually find yourself where you were always meant to be. I would give this advice to myself even now. Most importantly, never play it safe and always listen to your instinct. .”