Dancing her way through life
Sandra Fierro-Andrews has been dancing since falling in love with salsa as a young college student in Colombia. Since moving to Denver she is an active member of the local Latin dance world. Her fellow dancers affectionately call her the “salsa queen of Denver.” When she isn’t performing at competitions, Fierro-Andrews can be found teaching and dancing at Denver salsa venues.
By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of Sandra Fierro-Andrews
Fresh off her performances at the 7th Denver Salsa & Bachata Congress, Sandra Fierro-Andrews, local Castle Pines resident, found her way to dance through fitness in her hometown of Cali, Colombia.
The youngest of three girls, Fierro-Andrews remembers comparing her body image to her older sisters and wanting to find the fitness they had developed for herself. At age 15 using her school lunch money, she joined a local gym. In the evenings she would participate in back-to-back aerobic classes, eventually becoming the instructor. This was the gig that supported her through college, earning her degree in business administration.
“I loved learning the choreography and being in the music,” Fierro-Andrews reminisced.
In the community where she was raised, there wasn’t really any dancing. While she had gone to many traditional shows as a child where Colombian dancers were featured, it was during college that Fierro-Andrews fell in love with salsa dancing.
She would set aside one night a month to head to the outskirts of the city with her friends. At the time, Fierro-Andrews said salsa was considered the pastime of the working class. Most of the nightclubs were located outside the city in sketchier parts of town. The midnight shows at these clubs, with the dancers adorned in flashy costumes and high heels, is where Fierro-Andrews started chasing her dream of becoming a dancer.
In 2001, Fierro-Andrews made the move to the United States, settling in Minnesota. There she met her husband, Chris Andrews, and gave birth to their two children, Milena and Ethan. Dancing was always simmering under the surface and with some encouragement from her husband, she found a dance team and auditioned. She made the team and started learning and developing her own style.
When the family moved to Colorado, it was important for Fierro-Andrews to stay home with her little ones. She opened a bilingual childcare business in Castle Pines.
While getting her childcare business up and running, Fierro-Andrews became certified to teach fitness classes at Lifetime Fitness in Centennial as a way to stay connected with the adult world.
“The best job I ever had was teaching,” she said, remembering her days as an aerobics instructor.
With both kids in school, Fierro-Andrews has returned to the corporate world. During this time, she has stayed true to her passion, dancing in clubs and honing her craft. An active member in the Denver dance scene, she has gone from a student in the Denver Congress workshops to teaching her own classes. She even offers private lessons starting at age 7 in Castle Pines.
While salsa is her first love, she has taken classes in belly dancing, tango, bachata and others. As a student, she has watched and admired many dancers, but creating her own style has always been the goal. Learning the rhythms that originally came from Africa and then incorporating these concepts and others are what has helped Fierro-Andrews develop her own style within the discipline.
A salsa dancer at age 43, Fierro-Andrews hopes to be an inspiration. She says, “As a strong independent woman, you should follow your dreams and don’t let anyone’s judgment change your path. I feel like I have another 40 or more years to go and I haven’t even gotten started.”