Ritmo Bello Interviews Deseo Dance Director Serena Cuevas

Friday, June 5, 2009

San Diego is known for it’s beautiful beaches, near perfect weather, and an evolving salsa dance scene.  I mention the last point because over the last few years San Diego has experienced a new genesis of energy and excitement in Latin dance.  One salsa dancer in particular, Serena Cuevas, is credited with bringing salsa dancing to the national spotlight through her recent work with Gatorade on their new G2 products.

Serena Cuevas, director of Deseo Dance, shared some of her thoughts about her own development in salsa dancing and where it is going here in San Diego. Enjoy the interview below!


Ritmo Bello: Serena Cuevas, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to address the Ritmo Bello audience.  San Diego’s salsa dance scene is always expanding with new talent and your dance company Deseo Dance is a great example of this fact.  What does Deseo Dance offer to the San Diego dance community that’s different from other local dance studios?

Serena Cuevas: I train my dancers to feel movements first. Counts, timing, and technique are key factors to learning and progression but you’ll really go no-where in the long run without ‘feeling’ the moves and making them your own.

Ritmo Bello: Every dancer has a story about how they first found salsa dancing and how they first started to dance.  Can you tell me a little about how you came in contact with salsa dancing?

Serena Cuevas: I was 11 years old and my dad had shown me the basic…”1,2,3… 5,6,7…”. Without counts, just “back, together, forward, together”. It was so fun for me but I wanted more! My mom had been taking private Ballroom lessons and so she starting bringing me along. I watched and loved it even more! I starting taking over my mom’s private lessons and performing locally in studio shows. I knew this was it for me.

Ritmo Bello: As one of San Diego’s newer dance companies what are the main goals you want to accomplish as an organization?

Serena Cuevas: Being on successful teams I’ve learned a lot about the way goals are met. I have grown so much with Majesty in Motion. David and Jen have done an amazing  job with their company and I believe I have a lot to do if I’m heading that route. I definitely admire what it takes to be a successful director and work towards that.

First, of course come my teammates; for my teams and company as a whole I plan on building them as dancers AND athletes. It’s important not to forget that what we do takes a toll on our bodies and recovery from injury means not being able to pursue your passion. In the future, I’d like Deseo to be an athletic representation of Salsa.

Ritmo Bello
: What types of teams do you currently have in formation and where do they compete?

Serena Cuevas: Deseo is not a competing team by any means; we enjoy dancing for expressive and passionate purposes. I have 3 teams right now: Deseo Ladies (Advanced Ladies Styling), Deseo Lumbre (Beginner Partnering), and Deseo (Advanced Partnering).

Ritmo Bello: If someone is interested in joining your dance team what advice can you give them?  Do they have to have prior dance experience?

Serena Cuevas: Call me and we will set up a private audition. They take about 30 min and we can schedule them anytime. Let me know soon as my schedule is often full. You do not need prior experience for the group classes but for all teams, yes, knowledge of On2 dancing is strongly recommended.

Ritmo Bello: Recently you’ve gained some great exposure from your work in the Gatorade G2 commercial with Serena Williams.  How did you become involved in this project with Gatorade?

Serena Cuevas: They contacted me actually. It was a surprise and I did not believe it at first but one call and email after another, then a competition in LA and before I knew it, I won the ‘Search for the Next Serena’ for the G2 campaign competition! It was unreal and amazing at the same time.

Ritmo Bello: Will we be seeing you in future Gatorade commercials or maybe even other types of productions?

Serena Cuevas: Yes. I believe Gatorade still has a few plans in the works for me. Also, I was recently contacted by a producer working with an amazing director and choreographer for an upcoming movie to release in 2010. Very exciting although nothing is in stone. I will keep you posted as soon as I am allowed! :)

Ritmo Bello: In your opinion, what’s the best aspect of being a salsa dancer in San Diego today?

Serena Cuevas: The diversity! All the dance companies specialize in something different and there is so much opportunity to grow! Students have a ton of choices for clubs, teams, shows, training, etc. Very cool.

Ritmo Bello: What do you like the most about being a professional salsa dancer?

Serena Cuevas: I love loving what I do. Performing is by far my favorite feeling, but training dancers and seeing the progression is unbelievable!

Ritmo Bello: Anything else you’d like to share with the general public?

Serena Cuevas: Yes! Saturday June 6th I am hosting an amazing workshop/fundraiser for my baby neice Gia! I have created an event where all the directors in San Diego have a class to teach and with cross promotion and this amazing line-up I believe this day will really benefit both SD and baby Gia! You can read her story on our homepage : www.DeseoDance.com . She really needs us San Diego! (Special Note: To Find out more information about the event and RSVP for it check out the event page on the San Diego Salsa and Latin Dancing Meetup Group.)

Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about you and Deseo Dance?

Serena Cuevas: Please go to www.DeseoDance.com anytime and email me if you have any questions.

Ritmo Bello: Serena Cuevas on behalf of Ritmo Bello and the San Diego salsa community thank you for all you do to promote salsa dancing!

Serena Cuevas: Thank you for supporting us! Salsa lives on because of how much we all contribute. Thank you John!

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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