SILVIA – owner/director
WHO IS SILVIA?
Dear students and friends of Salsa With Silvia, I often hear that you ask who Silvia is because of the name of the business and because you rarely get to see me in person.
Well, I am actually not that invisible and I’ll tell you my story here on this page.
My name is Silvia Alexiev (maiden name Stoyanova) and I am the owner and director of Salsa With Silvia, LLC. The company was established in 2010 but I have been dancing pretty much my entire life.
I was born on October 15, 1977 in Sofia, Bulgaria; a small country in Eastern Europe. While non of my parents are dancers, I grew up very close to my grandmother who was a great singer and dancer. My grandma wasn’t dancing the kind of dancing that fascinated me though. I would see those ballroom dancing competitions on TV and dream about wearing one of those beautiful gowns or Latin dresses.
When I was 6, my mom signed me up for Bulgarian folk dancing, which was so NOT cool for a young girl at the time. I hated it and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to quit. So, I did exactly that after 4 years of being dragged to practice against my will.
I went and signed myself up for a ballroom class. I still remember how excited but also nervous I was going to class. The teacher and the students were the least to say arrogant and snobbish. I felt like an outsider but was determined to make it. So, I worked hard for years and switched 3 ballroom dance schools before I got to compete. Well, I wasn’t wearing the fancy gowns or Latin dresses simply because we couldn’t afford it but at least I got to experience the thrill of competition.
MY MOTHER TOLD ME DANCING WILL TAKE ME NOWHERE.
It took a while for my mom to approve of me going to practice late at night at such young age, not to mention I was always dancing, always in the studio. She used to say that dancing won’t take me anywhere, that it doesn’t pay, etc.
In my heart though, I believed otherwise because I SIMPLY LOVE TO DANCE. Let me tell you, dancing got me through some real tough times in life like my parent’s divorce, me running away from home and working to pay my bills at 17, applying for college, coming to the US when I was 21, heartbreaks, etc. I do believe that DANCING IS MAGIC AND IT MAKES PEOPLE HAPPIER.
I MOVED TO THE US WHEN I WAS 21.
I moved to the US on February 9, 1999 to work as an au pair in Washington, DC. Needless to say the first thing I did was to find where the dancing was. The first place I danced at socially was Glen Echo park.
Watch Silvia’s Story:
I met some really good friends there and they told me about Chevy Chase ballroom, which is where I took my first ballroom classes in the US. Three years of taking classes there and competing couldn’t shake off the feeling that the ballroom folks are arrogant and snobbish and it’s hard to become one of them. The competition is so strong at all times that even when they smile at you, they still judge if you are a threat and if you’ll score higher at the next competition.
FROM BALLROOM TO SALSA.
So, one day in the summer of 2004, a good friend of mine took me salsa dancing. I had picked up a bit of snobbish myself so I went there thinking that I am the greatest dancer and I got this. Boy, did I realize I don’t got this 🙂
The SALSA DANCERS THOUGH WERE SO NICE, even though they politely said to me that I have “a ballroom frame”, in other words are was as stiff as a stick, they still danced with me, smiled, taught me the steps, and were extremely friendly.
I met and made some of my greatest friends salsa dancing. One of them you will see in my instructional DVD. Beto was the one who really got me into salsa and who introduced me to my first salsa performance team back in 2004. I met Beto the first time I went out salsa dancing.
At the time Beto was a performer with a DC salsa group called Latin Motion. I auditioned and was admitted. The following almost 3 years were a blast. We trained almost every day, we traveled to perform. We danced at some of the largest salsa congresses in the World, like LA, New York, Puerto Rico, and more. I LOVED IT.
Then it was time for me to move on in personal aspect. I moved to Chicago to live with my then boyfriend (now husband). You can probably guess that the first thing I did in Chicago was to find where the salsa scene is. So, I did. I had so much fun meeting new people and dancing. Chicago has one of the largest and greatest salsa scenes I’ve ever seen. WHAT I LOVE ABOUT SALSA DANCING IS THAT IT’S LIKE A COMMON LANGUAGE THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE SPEAK. YOU GET ON THE DANCE FLOOR AND YOU JUST LOOSE YOURSELF TO DANCE. NO MATTER WHERE YOU OR YOUR PARTNER ARE FROM YOU SPEAK SALSA AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.
I got to travel and dance salsa in Bulgaria, Germany, and China, as well as many cities in the US. Anywhere I went we all spoke salsa so it was just A GREAT WAY TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS.
Since I was working from home in Chicago, I had more time on my hands and I also was looking for things to do outside of the apartment so I went to a local gym and offered to teach a salsa class.
I ESTABLISHED MY PERFORMANCE GROUP IN CHICAGO.
I taught my first salsa class early 2008 and I realized I had a ton to learn about teaching. So, I started teaching more and more. Soon, I started teaching at the Dance Academy of Salsa where the owner Miguel gave me a great kick start as an instructor and business owner.
I started my very first performance team and named it AMIKA DANCE COMPANY.
My students started with me from zero, I trained them and we started performing at local venues in Chicago. We even threw a show at my own wedding, which was really cool and the guests enjoyed it a lot.
While in Chicago, I also started my Trick of The Week Salsa Instructional video channel on YouTube. Much to my surprise the channel gained thousands of subscribers and up to that day I am receiving comments from fans that are learning how to dance from my videos. Nothing like it, to know that I have virtual students in fans all over the World.
I WORKED AS A FULL TIME TV PRODUCER FOR NASA TV FOR 10 YEARS BUT I GAVE IT UP TO FOCUS ON MY DREAM TO OPEN THE FIRST OF ITS KIND LATIN DANCE STUDIO IN DC!
In 2009 I decided I’ve had enough of Chicago’s freezing cold, so I dragged my husband back to Washington, DC, which is where I still had my full time job as a TV Producer at NASA TV. Yes, I had a full time job up until September of 2014, when I decided to pursue my dream of opening a big state-of-the-art Latin Dance Studio in DC.
In my first years of being in the US I finished my undergraduate degree at University of MD University College and then went on to get my graduate degree in Film & Video, which is what landed me at NASA. Loved my job but DANCING WAS STILL THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.
By the time I got back to DC I had grown fond of teaching people how to dance salsa so I looked for dance studios where I could teach. The beginning was rough. I had only two students in my first class at the DC Dance Collective studio on Wisconsin Ave. These two students were sent by a friend. Slowly but surely by word of mouth or the power of Internet, my classes grew more and more. With my background in graphics, web design and video, I managed to put together a pretty decent website (which you are on right now) and optimize it well enough so search engines would find me.
I taught at DCDC and BTI for a few years and established a pretty solid network of students and supporters.
A group of my very regular and talented students started talking me into forming a performance group. After much thinking I decided to give it a shot and start the DC version of Amika Dance Company. Some of these students also became instructors at the my studio. They are the core of the business and our growing network of students absolutely love them.
Soon, I started dreaming of having my very own dance studio. In 2011 my husband and I were looking for a house. When we walked into the basement of one of the houses that we found on the first day of our search, my husband said: “There is your studio.” All I saw was a pretty dingy, dark and disgusting basement that someone once used to live in and turned it into an absolute dump.
My very supportive husband, Kiril, saw the potential in the property, we bought it and started renovating. The basement dance studio was one of the first rooms we started working on. After months of hard work, I had a very decent space to work with, brand new wood floors, professionally installed mirrors, state-of-the-art sound system, completely renovated bathroom and kitchen space. Special thanks to Kiril and my awesome dad who came from Bulgaria to help with renovations!
MY DREAM CAME TRUE AND WHEN I HAD MY VERY OWN AND FIRST DANCE STUDIO.
Classes at my first studio in the basement of our house started the summer of 2011.
My precious angel and first daughter Nia Sofia was born in the summer of 2012. I continued teaching throughout the entire pregnancy, mainly training my performance team and leaving the rest of the classes to Kelly and Jennifer. My team of instructors continued to grow as we offered more and more classes.
In the summer of 2013 a new renovation opened up direct access to the studio from the street and allowed for a new waiting area in the front, which freed up more space for dancing and mirrors.
With a quickly expanding network of students,
I was on a mission to raise money and move to a new, bigger space.
In September of 2014, we launched a large crowdfunding campaign and successfully raised over $17,000.
After a long journey of over a year and tons of help from my husband we found and secured the new location and the financing of its build out. In November of 2014, I signed a 7-year lease for Salsa With Silvia’s new home, located at 3232 Georgia Ave NW, Suite 104, Washington, DC 20010. Salsa With Silvia was awarded a grant in the amount of $85,000 by the Great Streets Program to go towards the build out of its new studio. The total cost of the new studio build out was $325,000.
The new studio opened doors in April of 2016 and officially became the Largest Latin Dance Studio in the DC area.
The new studio offers new adult classes and programs as well as kids after school dance classes, summer dance camp, discount classes for veterans and people with disabilities, kids and adult performance classes, social dances, and more. By opening the largest Latin dance studio in DC, Silvia will offer many ways to support her community and teach people of all ages how to dance.
Not long before we opened the new studio, in the midst of overseeing the build out project, working with contractors, selecting and designing the finishes, I gave birth to my second gorgeous little girl Gabriela Marie Alexiev. She was born on January 18th, 2016.
I AM GRATEFUL FOR HAVING THE BEST HUSBAND, TWO BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER, FANTASTIC TEAM OF STAFF AND INSTRUCTORS, A BEAUTIFUL STUDIO AND SUPPORTIVE STUDENTS!
To all of our students, I’D LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUOUS SUPPORT AND FOR COMING BACK TO OUR CLASSES AGAIN AND AGAIN! We couldn’t do this without you!
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DC Mayor Bowser features Salsa With Silvia as a successfull small business.