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Meet Yesenia Serratos of Soho Dance LA in West LA and Sherman Oaks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yesenia Serratos.

Yesenia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started dancing when I was 18 years old, I never thought dance would become part of my life. I was born and raised in Mexico City, with a very traditional mexican family from Guadalajara,  Jalisco. I loved dance since very young age, playtime as a child consisted of dancing and choreographing with my sister and cousins. I believe teaching and choreographing has been a passion since I can remember.

I didn’t have the opportunity like many dancers to start at a very young age, taking dance classes in a professional level, but I definitely was always the first one for all school dance projects. Any form of art always interested me. Once I finished High School, I decided to try out dance just for fun before going to College to study Communications or Psychology. I always enjoyed being able to help and understand people in general.

I signed up to take dance lessons at the Ema Pulido Professional Dance Studio, not knowing much about it. All I knew was that Alejandra Guzman, my favorite mexican singer, trained in dance there. I thought it must be really good.

Then, what was meant to just a be break or a transition before College, became my passion, career and life. -Dance-I began taking Ballet and Jazz classes everyday, and yes, the dance training was at a professional level, building amazing dancers with amazing teachers. I continued training mostly with the support of my teachers, that believed in me and thought I had the talent and passion to make Dance my career. I trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern Graham, and Tap. That was the beginning of my dance journey. I performed with Arteria Jazz Dance Company as well as working on Musicals, Theater and TV Shows. I taught Ballet at Centro Deportivo Chapultepec, with children ranging from 4 years old to 18 years old. I loved teaching kids and still do.

Feeling I needed to explore more, influenced from teachers coming from Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. I always dreamed that maybe one day I could go there. I decided to make my first move to Chicago. Where I trained in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Ballet Chicago. I danced with Joel Hall Dancers and Luna Negra Dance Theater. Performing in many venues like Navy Pier, Athenaeum Theater, UIC Theater. It was a fantastic experience, growing as a dancer and mostly as a person, far from my family and friends in a new country and language. After three years of living in the Windy City, I moved to Los Angeles. I taught Ballet at Simi Dance Center for four years, training kids from 6 to 18 years old. I truly had a wonderful time teaching them. I also danced and taught at Schools all around LA with Louise Reichlin. I danced with Media City Ballet and performed at the Alex Theater. I worked for Entertainment Companies where I had the opportunity to perform at the Dolby Theater, Greek Theater, Nokia Theater and The Gibson Theater.

Then, I discovered yet another passion in dance, Salsa Dancing. I thought I was going to teach Jazz and Ballet all my life! The adventure started when trying to connect with my roots, my language and hispanic friends, I started going out Salsa Dancing and it quickly became a second passion in my dance life. I pursued it as much as I could, that is when I found my dance partner Raul Santiago, we’ve been dancing, teaching and competing for the past ten years.

I competed in Salsa and Latin Hustle. I have won competitions in Los Angeles as a Female Salsa Solo, and with my dance partner in New York, Miami, Canada and Orlando. We have embraced the Latin Hustle Style for the past ten years and our last Competition was in 2018. Winning 1st Place in Orlando Florida.

My dance partner, Raul Santiago, owns Soho Dance LA studios. Two locations in the cities of Sherman Oaks and Westwood. I am the Director of Soho Angel Dance Co. A Team for Ladies that learn choreography, Latin styles with a fusion of my dance background to perform and compete at different venues. I’ve been sharing and teaching adults for the past ten years and the most satisfying part is to know that you can change a person’s life through dance.

I currently teach at both locations and my new goal is to start a Youth Program to inspire children and teens to build their confidence, social skills, and have fun through dancing. I hope my story can inspire someone. Most importantly, I want to share my experience and knowledge to the new generations to believe in their dreams at any age.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

It wasn’t a smooth road for me since I started dancing at an older age. Technique is one of the things you are able to achieve in some years, even when you think that technique is hard. I believe it is just a matter of commitment and dedication versus experience and maturity as a dancer, it could take years. I struggle with the fact that some dancers had so much more experience in their 20’s than me. Perhaps things could have gone smoother if I had started when I was six years old. Still, I have to say that even starting at 18 years old I was fortunate to have the talent to continue as a professional dancer. The rest was just dedication, commitment and the love for dance! Because of that, I was able to be part of Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary Dance Companies. I’m very grateful life gave me the gift of dance.

Soho Dance LA – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from others?
I work and teach at Soho Dance LA. My dance partner Raul Santiago is the owner, a New York native, his first studio was located in Soho, NY. That’s the reasoning behind the name. I teach Salsa, Latin Hustle and Cha Cha Cha, and other social dance styles. I have trained in Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary. These techniques have helped me to create a fusion from the Latin styles with a unique touch. I teach adults that are not dancers. That’s why I’m known as the “tough” teacher since my dance background comes from very strict discipline dances. Adults that are dancing just for fun love that I push them as hard as any professional. Compared to teachers that think that students are just taking dance as a hobby, don’t push them to get the best out of themselves. I try to understand who they are, if they are making the time to dance, then let’s do it right!

I’m the director and creator of Soho Angel Dance Company, intended for women all ages, to learn, improve their dancing and have fun. I first began the dance company in 2010, every year welcoming ladies to come back to the team or welcoming new ones. I’m very proud to be able to see women getting better, not only in dancing but also adding happiness into their lives through dance. I always taught children and love teaching them, their energy is something that brings so much joy in my life. I’m very excited to begin the new Youth Program at the Sherman Oaks Location this Fall.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment is when I realized that the gift of dance, performance and believing in yourself doesn’t come from the outside. It doesn’t matter how you look, what skin color you are, what age, what language or how talented you are… but simply knowing that you are great with what you have and believe in it, which is easy to say… but when you have realized it and you finally let it happen, it is the best feeling ever. It happened to me in 2010, competing in Latin Hustle against well-known dancers. It was my first year competing with my dance partner Raul Santiago.  Right before the competition I felt all I had to do is dance, believing in what I had and who I was. I felt confident of my talent and simply enjoy the music with my dance. We competed in two categories, we won 1st Place in Theater Arts Hustle and 1st Place in Just Hustle in New York City. This great experience was something amazing to share and teach to my students.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Soho Dance LA – Westwood
    1618 Cotner Ave
    Los Angeles CA 90025
  • Soho Dance LA – Sherman Oaks
    14261 Ventura Blvd
    Sherman Oaks CA 91423

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Cristian Bianchi, Francisco Membreno. Frank Torres.

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