Rodrigo and Wendy Jiménez

Wendy and rodrogo smiling at the camera
Owners and Directors of RW Latin Dance Company, Charlotte, NC and Adjunct Faculty at UNC Charlotte

B.A. in Dance, UNC Charlotte (2019)

Hometown: Rodrigo - Concepción, Chile; Wendy - Sonsonate, El Salvador

Rodrigo Jiménez's interest in dance began at a very young age. "When I was 4 or 5 years old, I loved dancing at family gatherings," he says. "I remember performing for my first grade class in school and also for our church's talent shows. I got involved in my school's extra curricular cultural dance classes, Latin American Folklore and Flamenco, where I continued training and performing for many years until I came to the U.S. at age 15."

Wendy Serrano Jiménez's love for dance started later in her life. "When I was in my 20's, a friend of mine invited me to join some Argentine Tango dance socials going on here in Charlotte," she says. "When I finally started going I immediately felt a sense of belonging, like it was something that was missing in my life. I loved it!"

Already prize-winning dancers, Rodrigo and Wendy decided to further their training by attending UNC Charlotte.

"Since we already had our company and a careers when we joined the UNC Charlotte dance program, our situation was a little different compared to other students. One of our personal goals was to obtain a dance degree from Charlotte because it would only enhance our knowledge and technique that would help further our careers in dance," says Rodrigo.

They also shared a few of their favorite memories from being students here. "Having our own business it already requires a 24/7 attention, and adding schoolwork on top of that made it even more challenging for us. I remember many times submitting homework or quizzes from our hotel rooms at the events we were traveling over the weekends, or coming back to UNC Charlotte after teaching all day and dancing all night, we would go back to the labs to finish work assignments for lighting design until past midnight. We were so tired that often we had to decide between lunch or naps. But now as we look back at those difficult times, we can't help but smile and appreciate those memories with gratitude."

Rodrigo and Wendy are co-owners and directors of RW LATIN DANCE company here in Charlotte, where they've continued training with world-renowned dance coaches and dancing together full time since 2008, traveling to different dance congresses, corporate events, and festivals around the U.S. and abroad. At these events, they teach master workshops and perform Salsa, Bachata and Argentine Tango shows. The duo has won numerous awards, including first place in the World Salsa Summit and being named finalists in the World Latin Dance Cup, and has been featured in several public broadcast television shows.

Rodrigo and Wendy in pink costumes at a dance competition

"Besides our continued training and development as profesional dancers and performers, we also work with the community of Charlotte by teaching weekly Salsa, Bachata, and Chachachá group classes and private lessons, host local events, and mentor, train, and choreograph for our performing teams. We also choreograph a variety of dances for quinceañeras (Sweet 16 traditional birthday events) and first dances at weddings. In addition, we have been working with several schools (elementary, high schools, and universities) teaching educational programs where students get to learn first hand about popular and traditional dances with their history in a fun and interactive way. We work with different local organizations that educate troubled children and teenagers through dance classes and community programs. We're both adjunct faculty for the Dance Department at UNC Charlotte where we have taught Intro to Traditional Latin Dance classes since 2008," Wendy says.

Over the years, they have worked on many projects together, but one of their favorite and most fulfilling projects was the work they showcased at the Spring 2023 Faculty Dance Concert at UNC Charlotte. "We had the opportunity to educate the audience a little bit on the history and lineage of Salsa, where it came from and how it developed through the years here in the U.S., an idea that we would like to continue expanding and producing and maybe extending to the different other Latin dances as well."

Their advice for current students is, "Good communication is a must. Develop and maintain good relationships, and make your time count. Hard work WILL pay off!"

Rodrigo and Wendy are the recipients of the 2023 College of Arts + Architecture Distinguished Alumni Award in Dance.

Rodrigo and Wendy dancing, black and white photo