With the goal of turning Santa Clara into Salsa Clara, Volaré Studios opened its doors just two months ago. Located near Franklin Square, owners Marianela Calonje and Taylor Amarante say they want nothing more than to turn Santa Clarans on to Latin dance through classes offered at the studio and a summer salsa festival.
“As some point we want to host a salsa festival in the street,” said Calonje. “I used to live in Redwood City, and they have a huge event with three different stages. People love Latin music. We think there’s a market for it, and we would love to have a summer event. We feel like Santa Clara needs it. We want to be engrained in what Santa Clara is doing and have a yearly thing people can look forward to.”
Currently, Volaré Studios serves as not only the practice space for Calonje’s dance team, AUDAZ, but hosts open level classes in mambo and salsa, “Latin Heels” and cha-cha-chá, as well as salsa and bachata for kids and teens. Those classes are taught throughout the week alongside fitness-focused offerings like U-jam, burlesque and Empower, a high intensity interval training (HITT) class available on Wednesday evenings. Calonje also said she hopes to begin offering more Latin-style classes, including Brazilian Zouk, in the near future.
“I love the styles,” said Calonje, who coaches Santa Clara University’s salsa team. “My family is from Nicaragua. My boyfriend is Portuguese … I love Latin dance styles, and that’s what I’ve trained in. I don’t want to teach what I don’t know. I wanted to provide something different for the community because you can take jazz, hip hop and ballet classes everywhere. I wanted this to be a space where people know they can take a salsa and it’s with someone who understands the dance and can teach it and break it down. I want to provide a place for people to get better, understand the dances and focus on Latin dance, which is what I’m so passionate about.”
Recently, Volaré hosted a paint party, and on Wednesday mornings it holds a parent and me class for kids 14 months to three years old and their caretakers. Calonje said she also wants the studio to become a fixture within the community and that she and Amarante can partner with dance, yoga and fitness instructors to expand class offerings.
“When I was looking for a space to rent for AUDAZ, it was hard finding a space where I felt inspired to create,” said Calonje. “I wanted it to be safe. I would find places to rent, but we practice late and I didn’t want to finish practice in a sketchy area. I have a full-time job and don’t have the time to teach full-time, but I want instructors to be able to come and utilize the space.”
As the studio grows, the pair hopes Volaré will be seen as a place where customers can take a class or attend an event, and businesses will consider using the studio for team-building exercises.
“We’re looking to build the model with classes for kids, teens and adults, but there are lots of places to expand — date nights, movie nights, music and movement classes, language and movement classes, corporate outings and team building events,” said Amarante. “Mari’s dance team is available to go to companies and perform, as well as lead dance classes. There are lots of opportunities to expand what we do.”
Volaré Studios is at 1440 Franklin St. A free trial class is available for all kids’ classes. Visit volarestudios.net, facebook.com/VolareStudiosSC, or @volare.studios on Instagram for more information.