JOSE & MELANIE / New York

Melanie Castillo, born and raised in New York, is known for her powerful footwork and her presence on the dance floor. She illuminates the stage with her ability to put movement to sound in such a way that resembles the radiance of the composer. From Puerto Rican and Dominican roots, she is no stranger to Latin music and dance.Melanie began her formal training at the age of 5 at Rising Stars Dance Studio where she was introduced to ballet, jazz, tap, and other forms of dance. She was accepted into the prestigious dance program at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School. In 2009, she began studying salsa at the Lorenz Latin Dance Studio, and quickly realized that her passions lied within this dance form.

Within the next year, Melanie began working with Sekou McMiller and Nelson Flores on different salsa projects,exposing herself to different styles. Everything launched to new heights for her in 2011 when she started teaching and competing with Elvis Collado.  That same year, she also joined Ismael Otero’s company, Caribbean Soul, delivering show after show of memorable performances. Her dance career has taken her around the world, visiting countries such as China, Spain, South Africa and countless others.

Melanie won titles in several Latin Dance competitions throughout the 2012-2013 season. In 2012, she also took on the role of Head Instructor and Choreographer of the Salsa Sensation Dance Studio in Long Island, NY. Since then, she has held Teaching positions at Rhythmology in Long Island, Balmir Latin Dance Studio in Brooklyn, and Piel Canela Latin Dance and Music school in Manhattan.  The creation of her own Candela Dance Company in 2012 ultimately propelled her creativity even further.

José Luis Gomez, born in Newark, NJ, started dancing January of 2010. It wasn’t until January 2012, when he met Ismael Otero, that he started to take his dancing serious. Since then Ismael Otero has trained José Luis in all aspects of dance from Social Dancing, Teaching, Performing, Choreographing, & even Business. He has traveled the world with Ismael’s Caribbean Soul Dancers and has even been featured in the Legendary Raulin Rosendo’s music video Miradas. José Luis has also successfully competed multiple times with Caribbean Soul. He currently works with his dancer partner Melanie Castillo and together they travel to different places around the world teaching, performing & choreographing.