Agustin "Augie" Guzman
Agustin Guzman began his dance training in 1988 with some of the most sought out instructors in New York City such as Eddie Torres, Nelson Flores, Stacey Lopez and others. As he continued to learn and perform, he started teaching dance in 1990. As an educator and counselor, he used his dance platform as a prevention vehicle to engage at risk youth throughout NYC; this included the NYC Board of Education and various non-profit organizations including Sanando through the Arts, Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno and Community Narcotics Prevention Program. He continued dancing and utilizing this platform for community until he moved to Texas in 1998.
Shortly after arriving in Texas, Agustin founded Mambo Jam Plus and was one of the first instructors to pioneer Mambo “On 2” dancing in the Southwest region. His ability to establish an uplifting and encouraging learning environment made him a favorite amongst the dancing community in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. In 2001, MJP’s dance team performed at the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress. Although he had established one of the most sought after performance groups in the region, the vision of community empowerment was never lost.
In 2004, as the vision evolved and expansion became necessary, MJP was dissolved and Agustin founded Sandunga Dance Company Inc. in Carrollton, Texas with a mission to promote cultural preservation through the art form of dance. For over 10 years, Sandunga Dance Company provided quality dance instruction, choreography and performances in social Latin dance genres, including but not limited to Mambo, Salsa, and Cha-Cha-Cha in a beautiful, upscale 5,700 sq. ft. studio. Sandunga also provided these services in many other forums including community events, festivals, corporate events, schools and universities. In 2005, Sandunga was chosen for the unveiling of the United States Post Office’s Latin Dance Stamp collection in Dallas, Texas. After successfully owning and operating the studio for over 10 years, Agustin was inspired to return to his roots in East Harlem. In 2015, he began teaching lessons in the community where it all began. Now, in 2016, Sandunga Dance Company LLC is opening a studio in the heart of East Harlem on 3rd Avenue. There, Agustin together with his wife and dance partner Franchesca aspire to, once again, promote community and wellness through programming for children, adolescents, adults and senior citizens by way of cultural events and dance.
Franchesca Guzman began exploring dance at the age of 7 – like many, she started with ballet, tap, modern and jazz – but it was in 1998 when she found her true passion in dance: mambo. Although her mother had always exposed her to Salsa music and dancing as a way to keep her connected to her Puerto Rican roots, it wasn’t until her adolescence that she developed a true appreciation for her culture and heritage. Franchesca began dancing with MJP under the direction of the company’s founder Agustin Guzman. The tight knit, community conscious group that she became a part of was like a second family. Together, they had the opportunity to perform throughout the state of Texas in many venues, festivals and cultural events. In 2001, she was one of the dancers to be a part of the team representing MJP at the Puerto Rican Salsa Congress. Throughout this time, Franchesca began co-teaching group classes and was the lead teacher for the MJP Kids program. She also continued her training in modern, jazz and hip-hop though dancing on 2 was her favorite genre. When MJP evolved to become Sandunga Dance Company in 2004, she became a full time instructor and Assistant Director of the company. In 2006, Franchesca married her long time mentor, teacher, partner and best friend Agustin Guzman. She continued instructing, performing and directing the children’s program until 2010. Now, as Sandunga enters a new chapter in the heart of Spanish Harlem in New York City, she is eager and excited to continue her journey in dance and entrepreneurship once again.