Dancing with De La Torre & Company Propels Business

Published on June 5, 2009

Entrepreneurship Student Grows Dance Business, Earns Leadership Certificate

Top Form. Entrepreneurship junior Andrea De La Torre gets "dipped" by Saulo Gayosso, vice president of the Latin Fever Dance Company.

Top Form. Entrepreneurship junior Andrea De La Torre gets "dipped" by Saulo Gayosso, vice president of the Latin Fever Dance Company.

For entrepreneurship junior Andrea De La Torre, the path to a successful career best navigated with grand jetés, alegrias, flamencos, and chassés. De La Torre is using her passion for dance as the background for her business career.

This spring, she completed all four phases of the Ted Bauer Leadership Certificate Program, which students at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business can earn through curriculum that emphasizes communication, involvement, ethics and decision making. The four levels of the program are learning the foundations of leadership, developing a leadership vision statement, putting leadership into action and engaging in a leadership role.

De La Torre fulfilled the requirements for the certificate by launching Morena’s Dance Academy, a growing school that was started in her garage in March 2008 and is now moving into a studio in southwest Houston.

“I wanted something different,” De La Torre said. “I needed to find ways to talk to my members and to lead them by example.”

The turn around for De La Torre was immediate, and she was able to apply the lessons from the leadership certificate program to her academy. “I was able to go to work that same day and know that if I wanted them to dance a certain way, I had to dance that way,” she said. “I learned that if I wanted them to do it, you have to do it yourself.”

Although Morena’s Dance Academy is a business, it is also a place for people to feel good, De La Torre said. Dancers can learn different types of Latin dances as well hip-hop, break dancing, belly dancing and ballet. The group does performances and choreography for Quinceañeras and dancing for couples.

“The main idea was to share my passion for dancing and teaching, and seeing the progress of each student makes a big difference in my life,” she said. “Being able to use dancing as a therapy to relieve stress has shown a great improvement in marriage couples.”

As the director of the Academy, De La Torre has learned to persevere as she faces many challenges in the move from her garage to a premier studio in southwest Houston. She is working to hire more instructors and making the tough decisions in designing her space.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at UH Bauer gives you the tools to figure out how you are going to do it,” she said. “They teach you how to plan for this and hire the right people. I depend on the instructors.”

De La Torre is looking to grow her business in other areas as well. Her dance academy is pursuing a contract with Houston Independent School District to start an after school program for kids who can’t get picked up when school lets out. Her vision is for the students to be able to work on homework and participate in singing, music and, of course, dancing.

De La Torre also formed the Latin Fever Dance Company as the requirement for the fourth level of the Ted Bauer Leadership Certificate Program, which encourages students to engage in a leadership role as an officer in an organization or leader of a significant project. Through the dance company, she leads a team of competitive dancers who perform around the city.

De La Torre’s determination and drive exemplify the leadership qualities of many UH Bauer students, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Business Programs Frank Kelley said. “Andrea has demonstrated how a leadership vision can complement personal and professional goals,” he added. “She illustrates how her passion for dance and her cultural heritage find expression in both her career and in her vision for a better community.”

By Hannah Eastham