CESAR CARRASCO & SHEENA LARSEN:
REINVENTING SALSA ONE STEP AT A TIME
By Natalie J. Maniscalco and photos by Chasi Annexy
For so many New Yorkers, unemployment became a quick reality at the start of the economic crash. The job culture drastically changed and forced 9 to 5ers to reassess their career choices and potential, if any, job opportunities. For two individuals, a passion for salsa and a talent to teach issued their ticket to success one step at a time.
From small town Utah to the Big Apple Sheena Larsen teamed up with Peruvian born salsero Cesar Carrasco to create Step Into Salsa dance studio in January 2010. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Step into Salsa dance studio boasts over 80 students and 7 classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels, styling, a performance class and team, with the plans of starting a kids group and ballroom classes. “I was working for a company and got laid off. I needed something different to do,” says Cesar. “I came to New York specifically, to dance,” says Sheena. “I worked for a dance studio and then got a license in real estate investing, but in the end everything fell through. I had to take a minute to reevaluate why I came to NY and realized that I needed to do something that I loved to do.”
After many brainstorming ideas and business plan discussions, Step Into Salsa dance studio was formed by Sheena and Cesar eight months ago. “The direction of our business is always changing and expanding,” says Sheena who designed the school’s website. “We had to figure out ways to develop a business on a tight budget.” As a new business, it’s important to do research and take advantage of free online marketing options, promotions on facebook and craigslist, as well as partnering with different groups and venues. “If you can offer a win-win situation to someone else in order to accomplish a common goal and make money, then a partnership will work out,” says Sheena.
The joint venture of Step Into Salsa has quickly become a new fixture in New York’s salsa scene. The often humorous dynamics and entertaining connection between Sheena and Cesar radiates in each of their classes and onto their students. “We want to make it fun and enjoyable for our students and create a family atmosphere. We have such loyal and excellent students, who we thank God for, and their support for us,” says Cesar.
Cesar and Sheena demonstrate the perfect balance of teaching for both male and female students - from partner work, styling to breakdown of footwork and shines. They encourage beginners to just try a class out. Even if it’s just one, it will bring you a whole new experience. “A lot of New Yorkers don’t take advantage of this incredibly fun dance culture,” says Sheena. “Salsa is a really great way to meet people and surround yourself with people from around the world who will instantly become like family,” Or you can look at salsa as simply, yet profoundly put by Cesar, “Salsa is love.”
For more information about Step Into Salsa Dance Studio and owners Sheena Larsen and Cesar Carrasco visit www.stepintosalsa.com
A special thanks to Club H (located on 34th Street, between 2nd & 3rd) for the use of their facilities and studio space. Check out Club H at www.clubhe34.com for fitness classes and membership deals.