“Founder of the Dance Academy of Salsa”
Miguel started dancing as a child imitating his cousins as they danced to the hot rhythms of Salsa.
When Miguel turned 18, he joined the United States Army to get off the streets of Chicago as his life was going in the wrong direction.
While in the Army, Miguel met a gentleman by the name of Gerardo Medina. Gerardo would put on his Salsa music and dance alone. Amazed by his smooth moves, Miguel asked Gerardo if he would teach him. Gerardo did not speak English and so we traded services. “I taught him English, he taught me to dance.”
Gerardo taught Miguel how to dance with an invisible woman. Proper holding techniques, crossbody lead, left and right turns, how to prepare before executing a movement, how to lead turns, exercises to coordinate the hands and the feet and so on.
In 1975, Miguel was Honorably discharged from the Army. That summer he went dancing Salsa for the first time, with his future wife, Nereida “Nelly” Medina (no relation to Gerardo) and mother of Michael Angelo. They went to the Aragon Ballroom and so Miguel attempted, for the first time, to do what he had been practicing alone for over a year. He asked Nelly to dance and everything he had been practicing so hard at, flowed in natural harmony. It was amazing.
Leap forward to 1992: Miguel meets dance Instructor and professional ballroom dancer, Anyes Daskal. Anyes is impressed with Miguel’s style and asks him to become her dance partner and teaching assistant. For the next 3 years, Miguel learned how to teach by assisting Anyes at many Fund-raising parties and Corporate events. In 1995, Anyes and Miguel were invited to perform at the Chicago Puerto Rican Parade Beauty Pageant, which was filmed, and aired on, Telemundo WSNS-TV 44 in Chicago.
Over the years, Miguel has worked with companies like Coca Cola, McDonald’s and El Milagro either by performing or creating a dance routine for them. He has also performed and taught in many cites and venues some of which include: 2003 Chicago International Salsa Congress (Chicago IL), 2003 Torino International Salsa Congress (Torino Italy), Cincinnati Salsa Festival (Cincinnati OH), Springfield IL, Detroit MI, Milwaukee WI, Madison WI, Albion MI, Bloomington IN, House of Blues Chicago, United Center Chicago, US Cellular Field Chicago.
Miguel is also an aspiring Actor having appeared in over a dozen TV commercials and independent films over the years. He has worked as a Principle Actor for companies like:
Magnum Insurance, Mean Travel, Little Village Clinic, Chicago Bulls, Car Outlet, First Data, Transarmor, Urban Poet (Independent Film), Headcrusher (Independent Film), You're going to Prison (extra work), Surviving Christmas (extra work), Frigidaire Refrigerators (extra work), Centro Medico Nueva Vida, JEEP (National Commercial), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (10 spots, 5 in Spanish & 5 in English)
In 2009, Miguel was approached by Dr. David Marquez from the University of Chicago, Department of Kinesiology and Applied Health Science. Dr. Marquez had an idea to use Latin dancing as a form of Therapy for Senior citizens with sight ailments or who were just lazy. As Dr. Marquez had no dance experience, he asked Miguel to create the manuscript and the dance program. Miguel & Dr. Marquez created a 16 week (2 hours per week) pilot program consisting of 4 weeks of dancing merengue, 4 weeks of dancing Bachata, 4 weeks of dancing Cha Cha Cha and 4 weeks of dancing Salsa. The Test Data gathered was so positive, and proved to be a such tremendous success, the dance program is still being used today. In 2015, Dr. Marquez expanded the program to see what kind of affect Latin dance has on seniors that are starting to show signs of Dementia and Alzheimers. Data has been gathered on the first focus group and we are now working with the second focus group through February, 2016.
In 2018, Miguel filmed 10 commercials for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
Today, Miguel is still teaching and continues to pursue his Acting Career.
Michael Angelo began his journey into salsa dancing at a young age, training under his father and mentor Miguel Mendez, founder of the Dance Academy of Salsa. Since then he has studied West African, ballet and modern dance at Colombia College Chicago, trained with some of the top On 2 Salsa dancers in the world including Eddie Torres and Frankie Martinez in New York City and learned to play Latin percussion. Besides his hometown, Chicago, Michael Angelo has had the opportunity to travel and teach both stateside and internationally including Dallas, Houston, Austin, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and Africa, to name a few. Michael Angelo has over 17 years of teaching experience.
Angel “Compi” (“cōm-pee”) was born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community.
Angel has been in the dance realm for over 15 years and is one of the original dance Instructors from the Dance Academy of Salsa. Angel has performed at various venues including the Chicago International Salsa Congress with teams such as Hijos de Borinquen and Los Jovenes del Swing.
“Dancing is a huge part of my life and I would love to share it with the world.”