Melanie Castillo, born and raised in New York City, is a professional Latin Dancer. Having 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 dance program at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, in which she further studied modern, lyrical, and jazz. In 2009, she took up Salsa at the Lorenz Latin Dance Studio in Queens, and quickly realized that her passions lied within this dance. It was so close to home with a strong connection to her roots and her culture.
The following year, Melanie began working with Sekou McMiller and Nelson Flores, exposing her to different styles of Salsa and Latin dance. Everything launched to new heights for her in 2011 when she started competing with Elvis Collado. That same year, she started working with Ismael Otero’s company, Caribbean Soul, and became one of the founders/members of the lady group, Las Damas.
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In 2012, Melanie took on the role of Head Instructor and Choreographer at the Salsa Sensation Dance Studio in Long Island, NY. Since then, she has held teaching positions at Rhythmology (Long Island), Balmir Latin Dance Studio (Brooklyn), Piel Canela Latin Dance and Music school (Manhattan), La Luna Dance Studio (Pennsylvania), Borough of Manhattan Community College (Manhattan), Caribbean Soul Dance School (Jersey City), and currently, AlgoRhythm (South Jersey).
The creation of her own team, Candela Dance Company, created in 2012, ultimately propelled her creativity even further. They hold the 2017 title in the Open Female Shines Team category and the 2019 title in the Pro-Am Female Shines Team category at the World Salsa Summit, an annual Latin dance competition that brings competitors from around the world.
Melanie has won several titles in various Latin Dance competitions from
2011-2020, both with Elvis Collado and Candela Dance Company. She has also collaborated with Jose Luis Gomez, former Caribbean Soul dancer, and together they have a created a unique Salsa workshop, JAM Sessions, in NYC.