Sheena Vera Cruz lives through movement. Whether it’s jet-setting from one country to the next, or expressing herself through dance, this free-spirited gypsy never stays still. Sheena has been a professional dancer, host, choreographer and artist for years, and now brings this experience to the next chapter of her career as a mentor & coach.
This year, she was one of the international judges for reality dance show Astro Battleground, which had her shuffling between shooting in Malaysia and pioneering her Sexy Heels Fitness Workshop in the Philippines. As this interview is about to be posted, Sheena is getting ready to fly once more for more teaching and training in NYC and Japan.
I admire Sheena’s determination to keep improving herself, and her desire to turn her art into a service. Get to know a very bubbly, energetic, and intelligent woman who moves to the rhythm of her own beat. Meet Sheena.
Growing up, I remember my family and I living in many different countries but I was raised and originally from Guam… I travel all over the globe as a Dance Choreographer and I am a Movement & Artist Development Coach.
2. When I was still living in Manila and would go out, I would always be in awe when you’d hit the dance floor. How did you get into dance to begin with?
I always loved dancing when I was a little girl. I was obsessed in watching VH1 and MTV during the first years it started. I would watch the concerts and music videos of Madonna, MJ and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation on constant replay. I knew then that I wanted to be a performer when I grew up.
I wanted to train, find bigger opportunities and move to New York City on my own… But that big leap in turn opened many doors for me… I landed many international projects, met many amazing people and artists and eventually, I was able to travel around the world doing what I love.
3. What would you say is your proudest moment in dance so far?
Wow, that’s real tough to answer. There are so many things that I can be proud about but I think along with winning the various championships and world dance titles with my former dance group, it would probably be making that huge decision to leave my comfort zone (which was my home and team at that time). I wanted to train, find bigger opportunities and move to New York City on my own.
In the beginning, it was scary to go solo because at that time, I only had about fifteen thousand pesos ($300) in my pocket and practically packed my whole life in just one pink suitcase. That was definitely not a lot if you decide to move to another country!
To get anywhere in the international dance scene, I knew things would definitely be tougher if you didn’t have a group or manager and agency to back you up. But that big leap in turn opened many doors for me. Things fell into place and had a domino effect. I landed many international projects, met many amazing people and artists and eventually, I was able to travel around the world doing what I love. That’s when I realized that teaching was my “calling”.
4. Speaking of teaching, I know you also hold workshops for kids. Tell us about your favorite workshop so far…
Oh, teaching kids are my favorite! As much as I am a teacher, I become a student because I learn more from them! The most memorable experience for me was being invited to teach streetdance to a bunch of Inuit kids in the Northern Territories of Paulatuk in the Artic.
Mind you, these kids don’t have much exposure to the outside world. I didn’t even know that there were people who lived in the Artic that would want to see me dance or if they would even welcome me to their tribes. I can’t even imagine how I would survive the freezing temperature there!
But one thing I learned from that experience was that dance and music is a universal language. We didn’t have to speak the same language but we both understood each other because dance brought our cultures together.
Talent and skills can only get you so far. You need to have long term goals to follow it thru. If you know the bigger “purpose” of why you wanted to be an artist in the first place or why you even want to be that “great” it can keep you grounded and stay focus on improving those skills, that way you can keep growing as an artist/dancer.
6. How do you take care of your body?
Dancing and teaching my classes alone are already crazy cardio but I also do a lot of Yoga and Cross-training. I don’t do strict diets. I don’t think I can handle that. I just make sure to not eat processed food and drink loads of water.
Self- love rituals would probably be reading a book, getting massages twice a week and doing yoga…
7. Do you have any self-love rituals that you can share?
Self- love rituals would probably be reading a book, getting massages twice a week and doing yoga. I also enjoy spontaneous trips and traveling alone, it makes me think clearly. Sometimes I would go to a lounge by myself for a glass of red wine. Prayers and affirmations is also part of my daily ritual.
8. How do you feel your lifestyle affects your style choices?
As a dancer, I am exposed to different styles and fashion thru our costumes, concepts and the stage production and usually this requires us to always look larger than life on or off stage. So when I on my own time, I like to keep things simple and clean. I love wearing anything black though and pop on some red lipstick with it. Black is just so classy and powerful.
Dance and music is very powerful. When you learn how to let go with music it can transform a women’s body language and attitude instantly. It can lift you physically and emotionally.
10. Tell us about your sexy heels workshop! I know that could also help a lot of women be confident and comfortable on the dancefloor 😉
Yes, definitely! Sexy Heels Fitness is a Movement/ Empowerment class and dance fitness program specifically designed for women who wants to be fit and build inner confidence particularly in wearing heels. Here, women does strength conditioning and learn certain techniques on how to walk and dance properly in heels.
I always say that there are so many “closet divas” especially here in the Philippines. A lot of women feel shy but when they put on a pair of pumps they get this certain power and become a total different person so how much more if they learn how to dance in them!
Dance and music is very powerful. When you learn how to let go with music it can transform a women’s body language and attitude instantly.
11. Being sexy is….
Being sexy is being comfortable in your own skin.
12. What’s next for you?
I’m currently building the Sexy Heels Fitness brand and do more traveling overseas and teaching. I am also working on a travelogue project on culture and dance. I cannot talk much about it yet but overall everything is looking good.
Interview by Victoria Herrera// Photos Courtesy of Sheena Vera Cruz