Erika: professional + mom by day, dancing goddess by night

Happy Thursday San Diego Dancers! This Teacher Thursday, Erika Saw made time for us pre-quarantine, and her fierce and glittering personality is here to show us how limitless we truly can be if we allow it into our lives. As we pulled up to meet Erika filled with excitement, she was in her big SUV mom-vehicle filled with her kids while her husband was inside of the studio helping and working hard to get this new dance home in Carlsbad up and ready for launch.

As Erika holds 35 years of dance experience, she’s here to show the world and San Diego there is so much more than meets the eye. As the artistic director of Voila! Entertainment, owner of the new dance space, FUZE Movement Studio, wife + mom of 2, it’s clear that Erika wears many hats both in performance + life. Erika has found a way to enhance the world of burlesque by bringing tap into the art form, showing San Diego how growing your craft in many genres expands your mind + audience.

Erika on how she got her stage name, Kixxi Galore:

Fun Fact: Erika’s original stage name was supposed to be Ruby Noir (how awesome-sauce is that). The day before she went to perform her big showgirl piece full of kicks, she was told her OG stage name was taken so she had to “chop to it” to change the name by her former dance director. “With my dance background, the one burlesque piece I had choreographed at that point had a lot of high kicks, big showgirl kicks in it. My husband and I are sitting there thinking about ideas like ‘kicks, kicks…’ and came up with all kinds of variations ‘kicks for days, kicks for this and kixxi…’ just stumbled into play and Kixxi Galore was born.”


Erika on becoming the artistic director for Voila! Entertainment:

With burlesque being under her belt for a couple of years, Susan White, owner of The Movement Lab noticed how Erika had something special to bring to the table, telling her, “You are so good, you need to direct a company, use my space, let’s do this.” Although she feels that she couldn’t have done this without the push of her community filled with encouragement + support, she was being asked to fill a void for North County’s dance community. “It just kind of snowballed into what it is today.”

On the future of Voila! Erika sees it “staying steady on this path, continuing to curate shows that bring community together, that cross genres of the performing arts, and now we have a space to rehearse that we don’t have to rent or borrow, I think it’s going to keep growing.”

Erika on Voila’s inspiration behind the performers crafted into each show:

Burlesque is rooted in a golden age of dancing, filled with rich historical roots and Erika is here to put her own spin on it. “I like taking an older song but a modern twist on it.” It’s not just the songs that keep Voila! fans coming back for more — filled with dancers, singers, contortion acts and aerialists, this group is truly something to see. “The more variety you can offer in a one hour or two hour show, the happier your audience is going to be, the bigger your fan base is going to be. That’s what I try to do, curate a little bit of everything.”

Erika on how she incorporates tap into her works of art:

As much as Erika has trained in all forms of dance, with tap, “Musically I was hooked.” And advice for anyone ready to step up their tap game to become a more desirable performer = don’t give up, don’t get bored. “The simple little spanks , you need to find that rhythm and listen to your music and find those drills. To find that beat and REALLY drill those simple movements will improve your dancing, forever.” For beginners, Saw advises “Counting, and keeping it so even. A basic shuffle step, really making sure your movement is right on the beat. Really listening to your music and finding where you’re rushing and where you’re slow and keeping that even. Basic.”

After having her first child, Erika had taken a hiatus but soon found she needed to move her feet. Star Bailey, a tap teacher in Encinitas helped push her out of her “comfort zone to find the beat.”

If Erika had a superpower, it would be to “help everyone find their joy, their inner happiness.”

Erika on juggling dance + motherhood:

“Dance helped me come back to myself. You lose yourself when you’re a new mom, right? You have completely the most selfless experience of your life, keeping this tiny thing alive. And slowly you start to realize, ‘wait who am I? what do I stand for?’ I think if you’ve ever danced before or even if you haven’t, dance helps you physically, mentally, it’s a release. When I first started teaching burlesque again for one hour a week, it was that one hour a week I got to just be me. And I didn’t have to be a mom or any of those other labels. It saved my life a million times over. Dance is the one thing I can always come back to and it makes me happy. Healthy. Stronger. Better.”

We had to ask if her kids have come to see any of her “teasing” shows… “They’ve seen me dance, they’ve seen me rehearse at home. They’ve not come to shows, it’s usually past their bedtime.” (ROCKSTAR answer Erika!)

Can you guess which one is Erika?

When asked which famous dancer caught her eye the most and why:

“I had the opportunity of dancing with Charles McGowen who was in a Chorus Line, he was my first introduction to rhythm tap. Seeing his energy and passion and his authenticity, he was not afraid of being himself. It opened my eyes like ‘wait, so I don’t have to be one or the other? I can be whatever kind of dancer I want to be.’ That’s true in life. He was incredible.”

Fun Fact: If Erika could be a character from friends it would be Monica!

Erika on Why Burlesque?:

“What a beautiful form of self-expression, and freedom, complete authenticity…this is me. There’s a tease, it’s funny, sometimes it’s political, sometimes there’s a story. I loved that little twist of sexy, confident. The more I saw, the more I wanted to do it.”

Before we go…Erika’s Mission Statement:

” To create a space where everyone is welcome to move, to find the way of moving that makes them feel complete, to find YOUR way of moving that brings you joy.”

Congratulations on opening your new creative space, Erika! We love you + can’t wait to see how your dance space grows our community. Make sure to head over to http://fuzemovement.com to see all of the classes Erika’s new dance studio has to offer. Are you interested in becoming one of her dancers? Erika suggests to “come take class! That’s how I find my dancers. They come to class and we start curating what our best talents are. The opportunity is there.”

-XOXO

💋Xclusively Dance San Diego

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