South Charlotte

Expansion opens dance studio to the world

The new World Dance Center, a studio that teaches cultural dances from around the world, opened June 1 near the corner of N.C. 51 and Sam Newell Road.

"After three years at the old studio, I felt it was time to move on, expand and take the next step," said Rodrigo Jimenez, owner of World Dance Center.

If you've attended a free salsa lesson at Cosmo's or Latorre's over the past several years, you might have met Rodrigo Jimenez. He moved to the United States from Chile at age 15.

After moving to Charlotte from Utah in 2003, Jimenez began teaching classes in rented studio space and as a service to local clubs on Latin nights. His energy and passion made him a favorite among students.

Jimenez later married Wendy Serrano, originally from El Salvador, and the couple opened World Dance Center in northeast Charlotte in February 2008.

The studio provided an outlet for Charlotte's growing interest in international dances. Between Jimenez and other instructors who used the space, the studio offered salsa, merengue, bachata, flamenco, Bollywood, Zumba, capoeria, cha-cha, Argentine tango, West African, line dancing and more.

For years, Jimenez, 34, would drive by the old Weir Dancin' studio in Matthews, he said, and think, "This would be a really good location."

At the same time, World Dance Center was growing beyond its original 1,500 square feet. When Weir moved to a different location in the Ballantyne area, Jimenez felt it was a sign.

On opening night at the new location, the weekly Wednesday social drew hundreds of dancers from all over the city.

The studio's main room is more 3,000 square feet and can be partitioned to make smaller classes. Two more studios provide a location for private lessons or small classes.

"Our goal is to really use that space - have multiple classes and levels at the same time," Jimenez said.

As part of the expansion, Jimenez said, the studio is welcoming new instructors in all areas of dance.

"We want to educate people in world dance and get everyone to participate," Jimenez said.

World Dance Center is at 855 Sam Newell Road, Suite 205. Visit www.charlottesalsadance.com for details.

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