We had the good fortune of connecting with Julissa Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Julissa, why did you pursue a creative career?
I felt a sense of Community in artistic settings, specifically dance. I am the youngest of 4 children and my closest sibling is 6 years older then I. By the time I got to the age where I was able to do for myself, I was too little to be around for my teenage siblings. I spent a lot of time playing alone or daydreaming. I had a huge imagination, which is not always praised in the public school structure setting. It wasn’t until my Mom signed me up for dance classes that I started to really feel like I could imagine freely.

My home Dance studio became my family for 14+ years. I grew there in my maturity, imagination, range of motion; but most importantly in my sense and almost need of Community. These were MY people. Your ability to belong was based on your availability, which is to say you have to show up as your truest self, everyday. I was able to be whoever I wanted in those 4 pastel colored walls with dated marly and tape. It taught me how to express emotions that connected all of us still to this day.

While I’ve had a plethora of Jobs to put myself through college and pay for adulthood, nothing deposits more into my internal bank than the vast possibility of creativity available in the Arts Community. I pursued it because I knew I wanted to be that “community” for others. When one teaches, two learn; Art is what binds us all.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I currently teach and train adults in Salsa even though my personal background is in many different genres of dance. I was so used to teaching kids that when I decided to teach adults, it felt like “on the job training” that first year. It was not as easy as I anticipated, but I learned two valuable lessons that first year. First, time is the most valuable thing an adult can give you so make it matter. Second, there are children inside all of us, so they aren’t that much different in their need for structure and community.

My goal was and still is to get people at the place where they have the confidence to travel anywhere in the world and be able to dance with anyone. To learn the language of movement which connects us without words. I believe that is what got me to where I am today professionally. People know that my goal is for them to hit their goals no matter how long they stay with me. So when I began, I hit the ground running, wanting to connect people to other people, and also to their own potential. I get excited to see people taking creative risks and trusting me with the task of helping them on that journey.

I don’t consider myself to be “successful” in the typical business sense, but I have mastered what I call “artistic growth”. I not only plan and structure my classes to promote growth for my students and performers, but I still have the ability to grow and evolve within myself. I’m very proud when I look back at my body of work because I can physically see the growth in my artistic choices, and also in the dancers/performers themselves. I want the world to know that everyone has the ability to evolve and I strive to encourage the passionate pursuit of the Arts, Community and Self.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1- The United States Botanical Gardens has breathtaking beauty in all 28,944 square feet and free- to enter. Would definitely have to pick up a scooter on the Spin app around the city to head to Barcelona Wine bar with their seating variations, amazing homemade bread and delicious tapas.

Day 2- The African American Museum is a must see and its right next to the monument with its huge lawn. A great place to have a picnic lunch and then see the rest of the museum. A night out for dancing at Cafe citron, Havana Village or even The Salsa Room in VA is always good time.

Day 3- Harpers Ferry has so many options for hiking, canoeing, swimming right where the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers combine. You see so much beauty and feel the peace that only nature can bring. I would definitely bring lunch or a small grill to have a day camp. A movie night would be the perfect end to this type of day.

Day 4- Any of the many winery’s we have locally are a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. There are also late daytime festivities in the city like genre brunches sure to please what ever music and taste you are in the mood for. One of my favorites is POV rooftop where you can see the White House and the monument.

Day 5- A day of shopping at Tysons Corner is the perfect way to end the week. It has so many options for dining and has virtually something for everyone when it comes to your favorite brands, etc. Plus, Tysons alone has so many restaurants and nightlife that it’s sure to not disappoint.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Lisa Drawneek (owner of Leggz dance studio) She saw more in me and pushed me until I believed it myself. She gave me the opportunity to teach and make mistakes that I would learn from. She always placed other wonderful teachers and mentors in my life that encouraged my growth and made me strive for more. She built my first community.

Ana Masacote (Dance to Power) and Kat Arias (Ferocity Dance Company)
Their Mentorship in business has been essential to the trajectory of my goals within my Company throughout the 12 years of its existence.

Nilda Rodriguez (Mother) and Orlando Tielves (Husband)
Their support is always the net at the bottom of the tightrope I’m walking on. There is nothing like the security of knowing I can walk, dance, balance and fall into their love and encouragement.

Website: www.LatinVintage.com

Instagram: _latinvintage

Facebook: @LatinVintage , Julissa Cruz

Image Credits
Instant Vintage Photography Da Media Team

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