Stephanie Watkins-Cruz

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, loved music and dance before she could even walk... Thanks to her mother, a native of Yarumal-Antioquia, Colombia, who exposed Stephanie to the sounds of Afro-Latin music.
Stephanie is classically trained in ballet, but grew up loving the freedom in jazz and modern dance. Performing since the young age of 3, dance has served as a safe haven and source of joy for the last 27 years. After high school, she continued dancing and picked up cheerleading for her college cheer and dance team at UNC Asheville.  The sounds of Afro-Latin music she grew up hearing around the house brought her to social dance in Asheville and falling in love with Salsa in 2012.
Stephanie moved to the Triangle to pursue and earn master degrees in Public Administration and in City and Regional Planning. This move allowed her to reconnect with dance a few months before the pandemic, by returning to Ballet and Contemporary dance... and stumbling into a salsa styling class with Annie Velez.  During the pandemic, she decided to keep her dance training, and did so virtually with Rumbao Latin Dance Company.  Shortly after lockdown subsided, she joined the Rumbao Ladies Team and hasn’t looked back since.
In the late fall of 2021, she ventured into Carmen’s Cuban Café after hearing about Mambo Dinamico, and found another welcoming community she wanted to be part of. She took classes for several months until early 2022. when she was invited to join the Mambo Dinamico team, and she is enjoying every minute of it.
Stephanie loves being a part of Mambo Dinamico, because it allows her to continue challenging herself as a dancer, and a lover of music and art. It has also allowed her to connect in a deep and meaning way with her own roots and identity, as an Afro-Latina, not only through music, but through exploration and  unswerving reconnection of movement with the history and meaning of it all.