Hi! I'm Cori.
“The most important things to me: Connection, Communication, Community, and Heart.
And that is, in the big picture, exactly what dance and music are.”
I have lived a life of music and dance and it’s fair to say it’s in my blood. I was shaking my diapered butt to steel drums in the Caribbean before I could really walk (actually, shortly after shaking my butt to island music, I may have taken a little horizontal trip down some stairs- grace only works while dancing- a lesson continuously learned through adulthood).
Dance and music have meant a lot to me. In my most difficult times (and I’ve had some doozies), I was able to discover my own identity, self worth, and confidence through the arts. As a teacher, partner, artist, and performer, my own experiences and seeing first hand what a difference the arts can make for people has been a gift- one that has allowed me to be aware of how uncomfortable dance and music can feel for many who don’t have a familiarity with it; and one that has enabled me to apply compassion and science in making the benefits of the arts more accessible and to create comfort in learning it.
I began my study of partner dance a decade ago while living in Buenos Aires to study the Argentine Tango for my thesis. What became clear to me through Tango, was that my fascination was not just with the multitude of styles of partner dances across cultures, but that they all had something in common – connection and the act of social bonding.
When I returned to the States, I began my career in professional ballroom dancing and continued to study as many styles as I could with a particular interest in improvisational social styles like Salsa, Argentine, and Hip Hop fusion. I spent the first several years of my career dancing and studying with some of the wonderfully talented professionals on the East Coast and teaching in Connecticut and New York. (see more here) After transitioning out of the competitive and franchise world, it was clear to me that my love of dance lay in dissecting the art of Social and Partner Dancing.
When I moved to the West Coast in 2012, it was yet another study into the local culture of dance. The partner dance and Salsa world in San Diego proved to be very different than what I was accustomed to at home in the Northeast. Those differences have afforded me the opportunity to bring so much of my own artform, experience, ability and my knowledge around teaching and connection to my now-home.
I spent much time over the last 13 years considering what makes for the best learning environments and social experiences (and saw a lot of examples of what not to do). So in 2016, I took the keys to what would be my first studio in my hands- armed with some clients, a small business loan, a solid reputation and a lot of faith (and fear) in myself and my mission and the power of determination, passion, lady-bad-assery, and the arts.
My mission was to use the arts to very directly and intimately impact relationships, lives and our greater community. As I sharpened my curriculum, I became more sure that this was something really special. My curriculum and mission doesn’t just teach dance, it teaches communication and compassion and connection- skills that as adults we forget to keep honing and skills that become visceral and at the peak of impact when experienced in a non-verbal way.
Now, I’ve extended this impact to not only my individual clients but offer programming that directly targets community impacts such as team building and community improvement. I’ve taught workshops on unifying communication skills and experiences for SHEfest at San Diego’s PRIDE festival and I’ve worked with groups of troubled-teens to help them settle into new homes and communities. I work with organizations as small as non-profits like San Diego Dance Connect and as large as corporations doing team-building sessions, to help their staffs and members learn about the delicate nuances of communication with co-workers for happier, more productive workplaces. To this day though, my favorite and most rewarding days at the studio are the days I get to see the reaction on people’s faces when they experience connection and moving as one for the first time. From the “holy shit!” to the “woahhhh” or to smiles and laughter, jumping in the air with electricity, calm doe-eyed loving gazes, and tears at being connected to in a way someone didn’t know possible….people and their experience and expression is my greatest reward.
I am incredibly proud that I’ve built a safe emotional space for people to learn something new and intimidating and to pour themselves into it emotionally and take their guard down and be raw. I’m proud that my studio is identified as a place where everyone is welcome and I’m proud that my clients and staff represent so much diversity. In a time and space in our world where anxiety and tensions run high, where divisions seem deeper than acceptance, and where cell phones seem to be a higher priority than the person next to us, I am proud to be winning small battles every day in the name of love, of connection, of communication, and of unifying experiences.
Opening a boutique studio location where people could learn in the most personal way possible has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had wonderful friends, family and clients along the way supporting me and helping me build it. From the midnight hours putting the paint on the walls to the marketing efforts, programming, community outreach and everything in between, I have put all my blood, sweat and tears into this because I really believe in this mission.
My staff is comprised of good people who represent the morals and teaching values and warm personality I believe is key to being a part of this business. From my instructors to my administrative staff, they bring energy and love and passion to learning and teaching this craft and managing this business and I’m thankful for their part in this work.
Opening my studio taught me that limits are only what we imagine them to be, and reminded me that we have to trust good people and build teams and cultivate community to carry limits upwards. I am working to inspire and create and grow and incite positive change throughout San Diego communities- from marriages to families, staffs and neighborhoods and beyond.
The last decade has shown me opportunities like opening for the Dancing With The Stars tour with a child with stars in his eyes, dancing Around the world, building my own studio, and working with people of all backgrounds to introduce the joy of dance and teach the art of connection.
I continue to be wowed by this journey and the people I meet on it and can’t wait to see you on the dance floor as we dance ahead.