Alisa K. Bowens-Mercado

Owner, Alisa's House of Salsa

Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer and Instructor

 

Alisa started her dancing journey at the age of three years old.  A classically trained ballet, tap, and jazz dancer, Alisa studied with Gloria Jeans’ Dance Company (home of the World Tap Dance Champions) for over 16 years, and obtained her Dance Masters of America (DMA), Professional Teaching Certificate. Although majoring in Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, she loved the dance class that she attended every Tuesday and Thursday.

After college, Alisa went home to join the family business, a general contracting firm which she ran for a while. After almost eleven years of working, Alisa felt she needed a stress-reliever, so in 1998, she decided to take a Latin “Salsa” dance class. Instantly, Alisa was addicted to the music, the movements, the life and spirit of salsa dancing. After a few classes, endless practices, and a scuffed-up kitchen floor, Alisa and her then dance partner started performing at local parties, corporate events, dance benefits, and senior homes. Everyone in the community started to notice Alisa’s passion for salsa. She quickly became known as “La Morena Que Baila Salsa” (The Woman That Dances Salsa). Alisa, who is African-American, was assumed to be of Latin descent, either Dominican or Puerto Rican, because she danced salsa and spoke Spanish with a “crisp Latin accent.” Many admired the fact that she represented a piece of their Latin culture and others appreciated the fact that you need not be Latino/a to dance salsa.

 

In the fall of 2000, Alisa started teaching at Southern Connecticut State University for the Multi-cultural Center, beginning her career as a Latin Dance Instructor. Alisa then started promoting “Latin Nights” at various nightclubs and restaurants. She would teach a one hour class, then students and patrons of the establishments would enjoy a DJ for the rest of the evening. Alisa, almost overnight, developed a devoted following of salsa dancers who enjoy her patient teaching ability, her warm personality, and her “Let Me Entertain You” Broadway-style of dance.

 

In September of 2002, Alisa opened Alisa’s House of Salsa, Studio of Latin Dance, in New Haven, Connecticut. Her grand opening was a huge success and her studio location, which originally was located downtown, was known as the “Moving Billboard Downtown" because of the entertainment provided by the open glass windows.  In addition to the studio, Alisa also provides entertainment for private events through the Latin Heat Dance Team, Alisa’s House of Salsa professional dance company. In 2015, Alisa's House of Salsa moved to Westville. Since the House of Salsa opened, more than a 1000 pairs of feet have walked through her doors.

 

Credits:

Performances:

  • Opened for Grammy-Award Winner Rueben Blades and Jose Alberto “El Canario”

  • Lead Back-Up Dancer for M&M Recording Artist Hector-Bonet

  • Choreographer/Dancer/Performer with the Concert Tour of Morning, Noon, and Night, Featuring A.W. Nardi

  • Performed on the show bill with Huey Dunbar, Brenda K. Starr, Tito Nieves, Tiempo Libre, Eddie Palmieri, La India (Salsa Palooza Tour), Spanish Harlem Orchestra, & Dee Dee Bridgewater (Summer Concert Series)

  • Accompanying Dancer for Mi Cata and Marion Meadows

 

Television/Radio:

  • Future Host Of La Mega’s Latino Caliente Latin Dance TV Show

  • Spotlight with News Channel 8 (ABC), Cinco De Mayo

  • Good Morning CT with Matt Scott

  • Arts & Ideas 10th Anniversary

  • It’s Your Weekend with Gil Simmons

  • Media Package with Power 104.1 FM Radio, Puerto Rican Day Parade

  • Radio Promotional Advertisement with Hot 93.7 FM Radio

  • Live Broadcast Interviews with 96.0 FM Radio, 1060 AM Radio

  • PBS Special "Making it In New England"

  • Live TV Interview with Songwriter, Cast and Backup Dancers

 

Theatre/Concert:

  • Shubert Theatre (New Haven, CT),

  • Opening Act For the Caliente Concert Series with Tiempo Libre

  • Palace Theatre (Waterbury, CT), Latin Festival Pre-Show,

  • Salsa Palooza Concert Series with Eddie Palmieri and La India

 

Night Life Promoter:

Host of Latin Night at Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino Ultra 88 Nightclub/Lounge, Indigo Lounge, NEAT Lounge, Club Oracle, Cafe Bottega, Lush Nightclub, The Blues Cafe, Sonomas Bar & Grille, Congas Latin Lounge, Miyas Sushi Bar, Burns Cafe, and many more.

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