It probably goes without saying, but Smith Design is full of creatives. In our Smith Spotlight blog series, we’re highlighting the talent of our team and their endeavors outside of our studio. Follow along to get to know the people who make Smith Design awesome.

This month’s Smith Spotlight features the Salsa dancing queen, Melissa Mullin Sadowski. Melissa has been with Smith Design for 12 years and is currently our Senior Director of Creative. She was excited to get the chance to tell us about how she stays creative outside the office as she has taken up the art of dance.

Written by Melissa Mullin Sadowski

About 6 years ago, I discovered the joy of social dancing. A friend convinced me to try Salsa dance lessons. I reluctantly agreed, thinking I didn’t really have time for them. But it turns out that the Salsa class ignited in me a passion for dancing and performing that had lain dormant since my musical theater days in high school. In time, I realized that this activity improved my mood, my focus, my physical fitness and allowed me to socialize with people I would never have met otherwise, and who enjoyed dancing as much as I do. I made room in my busy schedule to learn this new skill. I was hooked.

Once I mastered the basics, I decided to learn a routine and perform it in a showcase, which was kind of like “Dancing with the Stars,” but with no actual stars and no harsh judgements. The costumes were beautiful and the other performers were very talented. That first showcase experience made me want to improve and perform more routines in front of an audience.

My dance teacher, Brandis Bolomey Riba of Brandis Dance Theatre, and her husband, Jorge Riba are both amazing at teaching all styles of social dance, and Brandis is a genius choreographer. She has created six routines for me, including a basic Salsa, a Bachata, a three-person Salsa, a three-person Cha Cha, a three-person Merengue and a combination East Coast Swing/Polka! See below for YouTube links to some of those dances. Currently we are working on a Latin Hustle routine. Some of the steps in the routine are inspired by Saturday Night Fever and various Hustle competitions on YouTube. Much like in my design work, the internet is a source of inspiration. I share some steps I like and Brandis changes them up to fit the routine and expands upon them to make our own creation. Crafting the performance costumes also allows for creative expression as we try to match the outfit with the look of the dance and the sound of the music.

Three person Cha Cha – Jorge, Melissa and Oscar

Dancing is a wonderful activity with so many health benefits for the body and mind. It’s hard work to remember all the moves and stay on beat with the music. I met my Latin dance partner, Oscar Montalvo, in my Salsa class. He is proof that dancing is the best activity to ward off aging. 79 years young, he can tear it up with me on the dance floor for hours. Often the Salsa band starts at 10:30pm, so it’s a good thing he is a night owl like me.

Oscar and Melissa

I try to encourage more people to get out on the dance floor. So far, I have not convinced my husband to make time to learn to dance, however, my 15-year-old son is interested in learning to Salsa!

Melissa and her Uncle Luis Hiram dancing in Puerto Rico

I like to think that my late Puerto Rican grandmother would be proud of my Latin dancing skills. I have been told that not being a dancer was one of her only regrets in life.

Don’t have regrets, learn to dance today!

See more video of Melissa’s dancing below.

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