World Salsa Summit Qualifier
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Billy Fajardo: Billy has over 40 years of dance performance experience. Billy began his dance career at the age of 14. With his beginnings as a club dancer, he then immersed himself in ballet studies at ABT and jazz studies with Phil Black and Frank Hatchett. In 1978, Billy’s dance company, the Dance Dimensions were discovered by the late Tito Puente while they perfomed at the Chateau Madrid in New York City. Tito spread the word to Ralph Mercado, who then brought Billy Fajardo and the Dance Dimensions in to perform at Madison Square Garden; a venue they would find themselves in frequently, performing at headliner salsa concerts throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. Billy and the Dance Dimensions also performed weekly on NBC from 1978-1982 as part of the nationally televised “Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert” In 1993, Billy was the the co-director and choreographer for the RMM dancers for the world-renowned "Combinacion Perfecta Salsa Tour", which featured such stars as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, La India, Cheo Feliciano, Tito Nieves and many more.
Billy met his current partner and spouse, Katie Marlow in October of 1998 and the partnership has been magical. The pair has garnered numerous titles and credits during their 14 years together. They are the only couple in the history of the United States to hold two separate world championship titles in the same year, for both Cabaret Exhibition and Latin Hustle. Billy also a Vice World Salsa Champion.
Other titles include 2000 US Open Cabaret Champions, 1999 United States Latin Hustle Champions, 2002 NADC Cabaret Champions. In addition, Billy and Katie were four time invitees to the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival Open Exhibition Championships, an honor reserved for only a select few throughout the world. They have been honored with numerous recognition awards over the years for their contributions to the dance world.
Billy and Katie first performed for the salsa world at the West Coast Salsa Congress in May of 2004. Since then, they have become one of the most highly recognized performance teams in the salsa dance world; performing on every continent on the planet. At home, they have been featured at such well known venues as as Radio City Music Hall and Lincoln Center. They were also featured on the Main Stage for the Superbowl, and in a tribute to their mentors, the world renowned Augie and Margo Rodrigues, both on Broadway, and then again, with the Miami City Ballet. They were the subjects of a special television segment for Good Life TV, and Billy has been interviewed for countless documentaries and features regarding partner dancing. Billy and Katie have been featured cover stories for various dance publications; including SalsaWeb.com, DanceSport Magazine, 5-6-7-8, NYSC Magazine and many, many others…
Billy, along with Katie were the head judges for the World Salsa Dance Championships as seen on ESPN since its inception in 2005, and were instrumental in developing the judging system that has been adopted by much of the Hustle and Salsa world for its various competitions around the world.
Billy has made it his mission to nurture up and coming talent from the various dance communities, including Salsa, Latin Hustle, Theatrical, Ballroom and West Coast Swing. To this end, he and Katie present yearly, the IHSC Dance Festival, where enthusiasts from all forms of dance congregate and celebrate the art and beauty of partner dance.
Training and Credentials:
Ballet: School of American Ballet (home of American Ballet Theatre) 1975-1982
Jazz: Phil Black, Frank Hatchett 1978-1984
Theatrical: Augie & Margo Rodriguez, Francois Szony, Rufus Dustin, John Ford 1975-Present
Mambo/Salsa: Dancing since 1972.
Certified Championship judge for National Dance Council of America
Licentiate Certification for Theatre Arts Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance
DVIDA Certified Dance Instructor and Examiner
Founder of the International Hustle Dance Association
Member World Dance Council
Member Screen Actors Guild
Nelson Flores: as producer and director of Latin Madness, Nelson was instrumental in the development of this creative project. It is no surprise that one of the concepts of Latin Madness was born out of Nelson's love of comedy and Latin dance. Prior to embarking into the world of Latin dance Nelson was involved in the production of comedy shows. As a member of Laff-A-Lot Productions Nelson worked with New York's top stand-up comedians. Once he was bitten by the "Mambo Bug" Nelson began taking dance lessons with the masters of New York Mambo. He quickly moved on to become a dancer in several dance companies: Fuerza Latina, Mario Diaz Dance Revue and the Santo Rico Dance Company. Today in addition to being one of the "Masters of New York Mambo" himself, Nelson is the director of his own dance group, the Descarga Latina Dance Company. Nelson's dancing and choreography skills have taken him to Japan, Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Amsterdam, England, Peru, Germany, Canada, and throughout the United States. He has performed with Tito Puente, Tito Nieves, Celia Cruz, Fania All-Stars, India, El Gran Combo, Jose Alberto "El Canario" and various other artists. But it was his desire to combine the lightheartedness of comedy and the intensity of Mambo that gave birth to Latin Madness.
Katie Marlow: Katie Marlow's comes to the World Salsa Summit with over 35 years as a professional in the Entertainment industry and over 25 years as a professional in the travel and special event production industries.
Involved in dance and the performing arts since the age of 7, Katie has an extensive resume in both theatrical dance and partner dance. Her credits include Theatre, Television, Print and Live Performance. She is a member of both Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association. She has worked extensively in the industry as both a performer and a producer of entertainment.
In addition to Katie’s experience in the entertainment industry, she has also been involved in various aspects of the special event production and travel industries for over 25 years. She is a long standing member of Meeting Professionals
International, and even served on its South Florida Chapter board of directors for a time.
For the last 15 years Katie has been half of the dance team "Billy Fajardo and Katie Marlow". As a competitive dancers, just a few of their titles include: IDO World Cabaret Exhibition Champions, IDO World Disco-Hustle Champions, US Open Cabaret Champions and many more.... They are also a 4-time invitees to the Blackpool Dance Festival for Cabaret Exhibition, which is reserved for only 6-7 couples worldwide each year. Katie has been instrumental in the development of the rapidly expanding competitive
Salsa dance circuit; and was responsible for creating the rules, regulations and judging system for the original World Salsa Championships that were aired on ESPN.
This system has become the standard by which the majority of Salsa competitions are judged around the world today. Billy and Katie also founded the IHDA, which is the current governing organization for Latin Hustle.
Katie is the owner of Dancesation Productions, which she incorporated in 1995. Dancesation produces customized entertainment and events for Fortune 500 companies.
In addition to the World Salsa Summit, Billy and Katie also host the International Hustle & Salsa Competition, which is now going into it’s 16th Year, and takes place in May of 2015. Their newest venture is the opening of FaMa Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a combination school, rehearsal and performance space for dance.
Of Peruvian and El Salvadorian descent Kat Aguilar-Smith is a Latina entrepreneur whose experiences have serendipitously positioned her into the entertainment management position she now holds as Chief Operations Officer of the largest Latin dance festival in the World, DCBx.
She inherited an entrepreneurial spirit from a very early age by helping her mother run copies to her father as soon as she could walk. Her immigrant parents at that time owned a humble storefront selling artesanias and craft items from Central and South American countries. Her parents having met in Washington DC while studying at local universities were determined to live the “American Dream.” It wasn’t long before the humble family began other business endeavors to build a long-lasting legacy.
Kat showed to be an ambitious young lady at a very early stage. At the age of 14, she had begun planning her future by applying to small part-time office jobs close to her high school. She began working for a prominent law firm at the young age of 14 and a half, the legal age limit to work at that time in Suburban Northern Virginia. She excelled at her part-time gig and by the time she graduated from Bishop Ireton College Prep School she was one of the highest grossing students working and attending school.
Working at the law firm for several years, Kat learned the valuable tool of automated systems and processes and grew close to her detail-oriented employer. At the age of 20, Kat decided to pursue her true passion in Latin dance. While working now full-time for the law firm, she started to learn and eventually teach Latin dance. Juggling a passion for business and a passion for dance, Kat worked a total of 80 hours a week- 40 hours at her full-time position Monday through Friday and another 40 hours a week teaching dance during the week and full 12 hour days on the weekend. She was persistently focused and driven.
Soon after, Kat obtained a position at one of the Nation’s Largest artist management and representation firms while attending George Mason University. She worked closely with the legal and human resources departments and personalities such as Michael Phelps, Mia Hamm, Chris Paul and Susan G. Komen and many others while getting her first glimpse at the entertainment business world.
In 2008, the real estate bubble hit the family hard as property values and sales skyrocketed down. She returned to help her father and sister with the real estate brokerage and began implementing procedures and sales tactics into the family business.
This further increased her interest in business and shortly after she was recruited by a prominent family development company as the second-hand to the EVP of the company. The development company owned over 56 acres of multi-use development including retail, apartments, and office space.
Today, Kat sits on the executive board of the DCBx as Chief Operation Officer. She is married to her entrepreneurial husband, Lee “El” Gringuito Smith Jr. Her adventurous spirit as an entrepreneur is fueled by her dual passion for dance and business. Together they have performed & taught Latin Dance in over 500 cities around the World, teaching more people to dance Bachata than anyone in North America. They have produced Latin & Diversity events for major companies like Microsoft, IBM, ALPHA, GWHCC, Telemundo & Morgan Stanley.
Current projects include DanceEgg.com, revolutionizing the online industry; and DCBC Event Productions, a consulting company on event management. Kat is passionate in helping Latinas realize they can do and accomplish whatever they want and her online learning series is set to launch in 2016.