In 2006, the Disney Channel released a movie that would become a sensation among kids and tweens all over the world. High School Musical was about a handsome high school student (played by hunky heartthrob Zac Efron) who had to choose between his love of basketball and his love of singing and dancing. Dancing ultimately won out.
For anyone who remembers that sing-into-your-hairbrush movie, it’s hard not to see the similarities between Efron’s character and NoVA native, Jason Cerda. Between 2001-2005, Cerda attended Thomas Edison High School in Alexandria, where he was the captain of both his football and soccer teams. But in between practices, he was pursuing his love of hip-hop dancing in local talent shows—and it doesn’t hurt that the similarities extend to his hunky heartthrob-ness. For Cerda, dancing ultimately won out, too. Despite getting a soccer scholarship to play in college, he turned it down “so I could pursue my dream of dancing,” he says.
That was more than a decade ago. Since then, Cerda has made a name for himself as a triple threat—singing, dancing and acting. You may have seen him performing with superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, T.I. and T-Pain. But he never forgot his Northern Virginia roots, and in October the professional dancer opened his first studio in Alexandria.
Cerdafied Studio caters to all skill levels with a diverse mix of classes. There’s hip-hop, of course, but would-be dancers can take 20 styles of dance from ballet to belly dance—all in a low stress, drop-in environment. Plus, his Cerdafied Fit classes offer cardio and conditioning options.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to bring something to the DMV that wasn’t competitive. There was nowhere for someone to go and have fun and train and get better,” says Cerda. “I want you to go and you don’t even know the person next to you, but by the end of the class you guys are best friends.”
Cerda’s connections to the dance world means he’s also able to get some big names into the studio to teach master classes. Celebrity choreographer Gabe de Guzman dropped in for the opening and LA-based Dana Alexa also taught a masterclass recently. Cerda himself—still on the road dancing, singing and acting—is there every few months to teach.
Cerda is already mapping out where else he might open his eponymous studio (LA, Miami and Atlanta are on his radar), but his focus for now is creating an inspiring exercise experience for everyone in his hometown.
“It’s a place for people to come and catch a vibe. Kids, people that got injured and haven’t danced in a while or even a 50-year-old couple who wants to come take a salsa class instead of seeing a movie,” he says. “It’s a judgement free zone.” // Cerdafied Dance Studio: 6120-A Franconia Road, Alexandria; cerdafiedstudios.com; drop-in classes, $25, Cerdafied Fit classes, $10.