Today we’d like to introduce you to Carolina Cerisola and Sascha Escandon.
Carolina and Sascha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today? We initially met in the salsa dance community in 1999. Carolina had just come from Argentina with a rhythmic gymnastics background and had already been touring with a salsa music artist, El Puma, before moving to LA. Sascha, an L.A. native, grew up as a trained ballet and jazz dancer and worked commercially in her youth.
Salsa dancing afforded us to travel and meet incredible artists from around the world, but soon after meeting, we branched off into different lives.
Carolina’s career transitioned to headlining at the Burlesque hot-spot, Forty-Deuce in Hollywood, and became a coveted soloist, performing with artists like Sting, Daniel Lanois, Justin Timberlake and more.
During that same, Sascha graduated with a B.S. in Animation from Woodbury University and went on to work as a Post Production Coordinator for MTV reality shows like “The Osbournes”, “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” “Brandy,” and more.
SE: After a few years, we reconnected just to have lunch and realized we were both at a crossroads in our lives and our careers. We were looking for something more. We couldn’t put an exact finger on it, but we knew we wanted to start developing something more meaningful with the resources and talent we were surrounded by. We felt that we had all the pieces, we just needed to continue discovering and shaping what “it” was. So, to make sure we were focused on this new search, we actually moved in together in Hollywood, late 2007.
We did a lot of “research,” (translation: going out all the time), brainstormed a bunch by sharing our experiences and the inspiring artists we knew, and watched many great YouTube videos of very cool projects and performances.
Then the idea came… THE FLOOR Improv Night, a night of improvisation between musicians and dancers of all genres coming together to create in-the-moment collaborations and unforgettable energy under one roof. Not a show, just a place where everyone is free to express themselves without ego or judgment.
CC: Only living together for a few months and knowing that we had moved in together to work and create something that would fulfill our hearts, Floor Productions, our official partnership was born out of our own desire to surround ourselves with more talented people…
SE: …and create productions/events that not only matched their talent but to share this creative world we’ve been so fortunate to live in with as many people as we could.
CC: THE FLOOR came about from having way too much fun at our place – so many dinners with artist friends and late nights filled with live music…our little living room just became too small. So, we immediately pitched the idea to our good friend, Mario Melendez, owner of King in Hollywood, to have this event in his space.
On July 20, 2008, THE FLOOR Improv Night was born.
With his help and belief in us, Mario opened King King’s doors so we could create and express our creative needs, with only one condition: after a year of putting up THE FLOOR Improv Night, we’d produce a show with him.
SE: So, as promised in 2009 we created, produced and directed the first run of “THE FLOOR SHOW”. Our goal was to take the concept of the improv night and format it to reach more of a theatre-going audience. THE FLOOR SHOW brings together the best of L.A.’s musicians and dancers in a captivating display of original live music and jaw-dropping dance performances in a one-of-a-kind immersive experience for all ages. 8 Musicians and 45 performers, progressing seamlessly from genre to genre, offering 360-degree seating, fully immersing the audience into the show.
THE FLOOR SHOW ran annually for 6 years at King King. Our last run was in 2015 with Golden voice at El Rey Theatre. After being dark for a couple years, we are currently developing our next run that will truly be immersive in a very unique way – we are so excited and hoping it will be back up in 2019!
CC: After 4 years of having our monthly event and our annual show production, we recognized the outstanding community of artists we were connected with and felt the responsibility to be the conduit for these artists to pass down their crafts directly to the next generations, especially in underserved areas.
So, in 2012, we co-founded THE OPEN FLOOR SOCIETY, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to engage underserved youth in the art of improvisation to encourage self-empowerment through movement, dance and music, fostered by a multi-cultural artistic community.
With TOFS, we have engaged with hundreds of kids through after-school programs, workshops and exhibitions in communities like South Gate, Lynwood, San Pedro, Compton, Rampart, Downey and more.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you? CC: I am sure like any company when you work for yourself there’s always a challenge in being your own boss, making the time, being disciplined, and always finding a creative way to make a living. I believe there’s no such thing as a smooth road in any company, especially after 10 years and dealing with artists, lol. The struggle is real, but other times, the struggle is what helps that creative side in you; you come up with ways to make it work no matter what, being creative with what you have in front of you. The good thing is it’s always two of us, so we have each other.
SE: I’d say in the beginning we were kind of spoiled that success came pretty quickly and easily for the most part, but I believe that had a lot to do with us vocalizing with each other constantly what our intent and purpose was and being clear of what we did not want to be, in combination with the willingness to do whatever it took to get it done. There is always struggle, but because we loved what we were doing, and we had total freedom in our decisions, struggles became exciting challenges that we met with, “What do we need to do to make this happen?” and from there, we’d break down what we wanted into pieces and taking those steps.
We also recognized that if we wanted longevity, it was our responsibility to turn The Floor into a business and build infrastructure around it and approach everything with a “bigger picture” mentality. Early on, our bigger picture was to reinvest in more creative endeavors. Now, at a different age and life experience, our “struggle” is to compare our business model with current trends to keep updating and growing it so we can take everything “Floor” to the next level, creatively and financially.
We’d love to hear more about your business. | CC: I think we’re known for bringing people together, making them feel welcome without judgment and without questioning your talent, we wanted to create a place where people can express and enjoy live music. We wanted to share our everyday treasure of being surrounded by talent and show the people in Los Angeles that’s what this city is all about. Talent, different cultures, expression, art.
I am proud of what we have accomplished in the last 10 years and all the knowledge I have gained. I am proud of seeing artists working together because they have met at one of our events, I am proud of passing down what we know and sharing with other people that have no access.
I am proud of my growth because of it.
What sets us apart is the fact that we let artists be them without telling them what to do, we give them the outlet to express who they are. Improvisation changed my art and my personality because I was able to have a voice of my own at 16 years old.
SE: “When you do common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the crowd.” This quote has always stuck with me during our journey. I’ve always said, what we are doing is not new, we didn’t invent music, dance or improv, but our clear intention and integrity behind our work translate into the experiences we are creating for others – authenticity, joy, creativity, and a welcoming environment for everyone.
I’m so proud of so many things – what we’ve learned, accomplished, the lifetime friendships we’ve collected along the way, but one of the things I’m most proud of is starting a business during an otherwise unstable financial time in our country, in an industry that is not known for longevity or financial success, and we have been thriving for 10 years now. We have been creatively successful, financially independent and so proud to have been able to generate income for many artists and be able to continually shine a light on the important roles they play in our culture and lives. It feels good to give back to a community that has given me so much.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve? L.A. is a fantastic place for art and talent because there is so much here, and it’s dense with variety. It is precisely why we created Floor Productions. L.A. is a great place for the kind of work we do, but art and the business of art are very different; there are a ton of people doing amazingly creative things, so the market is saturated. Having a clear vision, strong strategy, perseverance, and the willingness and to do whatever it takes, is key. City sponsorship for events that are uniquely L.A. would be a great way to promote the cultural fabric and identity of this vast city.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far? CC: The Floor Show 2015 at The El Rey theatre with Golden voice, I am proud of knowing that other people love and need what I love and need.
SE: So many to count! Sometimes I really just can’t believe we did any of this. I’m proud that Carolina and I were good acquaintances, who felt a void, voiced it and did something about it. We made our own beautiful bubble, surrounding ourselves with talented, joyous souls, and shared our world with more people. And now, here we are, an indescribable friendship, with families and many memories, continuing to do what we love and still dreaming up more to do!
- The Floor Improv Night (every 3rd Monday) is $5 before 10pm, $10 after; benefiting The Open Floor Society!
- Address: 177 E. Colorado Bl. Suite 200 Pasadena, Ca 91105
- Website: www.TheFloorProductions.com
- Phone: 323.424.4200
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefloorimprovnight/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFloorImprovNight
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/thefloorprod
Top 2 (3 flamenco dancers and balancing CyberYoga from The Floor Show) are Carlos Maidana, the rest are Farah Sosa aka FarahStop