Dancing with the Stars cast members Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska, whose 2007 wedding with each other was celebrated in People magazine, opened up Genesis Dance Sport Studio to share their expertise with kids and adults. Before stepping into the role of business owner, Sliwinska found success on the international dance circuit and in TV commercials in her native Poland before meeting the Russian-born Mazo at a ballroom-dance competition in England. The duo danced together for years at national and international events before skyrocketing to fame on the popular ABC dance show where Mazo won the first season's competition with General Hospital star Kelly Monaco. Sliwinska has twirled with a slew of celebrities—including Evander Holyfield and Joey Lawrence—during her 10 glamorous seasons with the show. The husband-and-wife team has also produced the instructional DVDs “Dancing like the Pros” and “Fitness with the Pros," which help people improve their moves and become agile enough to solve a Rubik's Cube with their feet.
Sliwinska currently acts as both an instructor and the creative director of the studio, which is a welcoming, down-to-earth space that Mazo's parents originally opened in 1994. Here, she and the other experienced instructors boost students' self-confidence and social skills as they teach them the cha-cha, rumba, and swing. Many of their students have even gone on to garner accomplishments within the dance industry. The studio also offers courses for weddings and dance-based fitness classes that combine ballroom moves with plyometric training and yoga.
The staccato beat of conga drums rises over the deep voice of a bass guitar and the higher trills of the timbales and piano. Head dancer Evan Margolin and his bevy of experienced instructors lead students in classes that take beginners through basic footwork and salsa rhythms, with intermediate and advanced sessions offering salsa aficionados more challenging instruction. The social class structure—partners rotate throughout every session—creates a low-pressure learning environment and keeps dancers from scrambling to locate a partner or human-shaped tupperware container. The one-hour beginner classes are mostly filled with salsa novices and new dancers, and Dance SF's experienced and engaging local salsateers are patient and friendly when showing new students how to bust well-timed moves. During intermediate classes, which require six months or more of social dancing experience, students focus on timing and cross-body leads with turns. After some evening classes, new dancers are invited to join an all-night salsa party where they can put their new moves in practice. Students should wear comfortable clothing, which includes dancing shoes, but does not include rear-flapped onesie pajamas.
Entering the world of dance can be intimidating, but Alonzo King LINES Ballet eases students into it by offering so many classes in so many different types of dance and motion disciplines, there’s simply something for everyone to latch onto. Popular options include ballet, modern, jazz, flamenco, hip-hop and Alexander Technique, which works to align body and mind with specific and thought-out movements. From absolute beginner to everyone in between, LINES encourages participants to be honest about their comfort level so that staff can guide them efficiently, enthusiastically and compassionately. Drop-ins to any of the six high-ceilinged studios in SoMa are always available, but some classes fill up fast; super-serious students pursue two-year training programs and a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in affiliation with Dominican University. Most classes here are adult-only, so kids seeking dance instruction may need to look elsewhere.
The Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater, on the second-floor overlooking the bustle of 24th and Mission Streets, is both a workshop and a venue. While equipped with a 140-seat black box theater, the main studio space is practically a solarium, open to all the sunlight of San Francisco’s Banana Belt. Here, aspiring dancers can tone up and acquire the moves in samba, reggaetón fusion and Haitian drumming, or, in classes such as Vogue and Tone, they can get a workout while cat-walking, posing and re-learning how to navigate the world in heels. There are more than 50 classes each week, plus summer programs for youth – and it’s open for rehearsal rentals. On the performance side, it’s the home of the Dance Mission Brigade, which bridges high-concept choreography with the movement of the streets. Community-driven and diverse in its programming, this is San Francisco’s home for socially-conscious modern dance.
For almost 40 years, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has had a full dance card, acting as the omnibus educational center for a thriving, bilingual Latin American community far beyond the immediate neighborhood. Whether it’s murals, graphic arts, Carnaval floats, capoeira classes, salsa-merengue classes, mentoring to at-risk youth or simply renting out gallery space for the community’s own purposes, MCCLA’s calendar is bursting with programming for everyone. In an era without state support for the arts and amidst an ever-gentrifying Mission, MCCLA enjoys a magical combination of paid staff and volunteers who keeps this treasured institution relevant and ahead of the curve. It’s part summer camp, part Kennedy Center.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
Just come and check! You will have a great workout while having fun!
Exercise is challenging. How do you keep clients motivated and engaged?
I always tell my Zumba students to feel the music and forget about the rest. I keep my routines easy to follow with a great playlist.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
What do you love most about your job?
To make people feel good about themselves!