Sonya was born and raised in Moscow, Russia where her dancing career began. When she was 12 years old, her older sister dragged Sonya to her first ballroom dance class. Sonya resisted her tremendously because everyone in Russia was already a dance champion by that age and it was embarrassing to start “so late”. Nevertheless, she was forced to take ballroom dance lessons and little did her family know, it would consume her completely and eventually become her profession. Sonya especially liked the Latin dances: the fast-paced Cha-Cha, the festival-like Samba and the romantic Rumba. Sonya wanted to express the passion of music and the character of each dance through the body movements. She has always been known as a very “expressive” dancer.
In 1991, at the age of 14, Sonya and her family immigrated to the United States looking for a better life and more opportunities. She started training in Competitive Ballroom Dancing with Sandra Fortuna in New Jersey, who is considered one of the best Ballroom and Latin instructors in the US. Sonya is very thankful to Sandra for 8 years of excellent dance training and generous sponsorship. Being a very expressive dancer herself, Sandra nurtured Sonya’s love for self-expression, always encouraging her to be the best she could be in dance.
In 1999, after years of competing Sonya competed for the last time at Ohio Star Ball Championships, the largest Ballroom Competition in the United States. After having successfully placed into the semi-final of International Latin Division, she decided to hang up my competition shoes and start dancing socially. And that’s when she discovered Salsa, the dance everyone was talking about! It didn’t take long to make her forget all other dances and she became completely addicted to Salsa.
Sonya took her first Salsa lessons with Ernesto Diaz in Philadelphia and Josie Neglia in Los Angeles. Thanks to years of training in the Competitive Ballroom arena, Sonya learned Salsa very quickly and over time has created her own distinct style, a style she describes as feminine, sexy, and flirtatious, yet sophisticated.
In 2001 Sonya embarked on an European tour where she met a lot of wonderful people through dancing Salsa. She lived and taught Salsa in Paris for almost a year, quickly becoming one of the popular dancers and instructors in the City of Lights. Upon her return from Europe, she started her own classes in Philadelphia with hundreds of students following her.
April of 2003 marked a new beginning for Sonya’s dance career: she opened her own dance studio, La Luna, now located in Bristol, PA. This beautiful dance facility specializes in Salsa and Bachata for Adult Students, and also offers traditional performing arts dance classes for children ages 3-18.
Her professional accomplishments include:
- Semi-finalist at the 2002 Club Mayan World Salsa Competition, Los Angeles, CA
- Runner-up at the 2002 International Hustle & Salsa Competition, Miami, Fl
- Finalist of the 2003 Vaseline Intensive Care Smooth Moves Competition, Los Angeles, CA
- Featured Salsa instructor at the World Hustle Dance Championships 2003-2004, New Jersey
- Original weekly performer at Cuba Libre Restaurant, Philadelphia, in its 4th year running
- Salsa Instructor at Brasil’s Nite Club, Philadelphia since 2002
- Main Salsa Instructor at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia since 2004
- Choreographer of the Salsa portion of the University of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Show, since 2004
- Founder, Member, and Manager of Luna Negra Performance Dance Troupe
- Co-Choreographer of the Salsa routine danced for the World Guinness Record in Philadelphia, 2004
- Produced “Ladies Salsa Styling Video” where she is a featured instructor in 2003
Television appearances include:
- TLC “Dating Story” 2004
- Fox 29 “Good day, Philadelphia” 2004
- NBC “10!” 2004