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We are very sorry to report that David Melendez died on February 8th, 2007,
after 2 decades as a major figure in our local mambo community.  He will be very sorely missed
by all of us who knew him.

Please see our News Article honoring him.


David Melendez founded the Starlite Dance Studio, the longest running mambo program in the Bronx, NY.  Below is our original listing of David Melendez from pre-1999 and the teaching at the Starlite Studio.



SalsaNewYork Reviewed Instructor:

Instructor Stats:

Compiled by Manny Siverio
David Melendez 
(Starlite Dance Studio)

David Melendez runs 2 dance studios, one in the Bronx, NY, and one in Orlando, Florida.  See information on each studio below.


(Originally posted by Manny Siverio on Salsaweb NY pre-1999, then transfered to SalsaNewYork)

Manhattan is not the only place in New York where you can find dedicated mambo instructors. The Bronx, considered by many to be the home of many top New York dancers, is another important location to mambo dance instruction. It is also the home of Mambo Instructor David Melendez and his Starlite Dance Studio (located at 1631 St. Peter's Avenue,  corner of St. Raymond Ave., in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx, NY).  David has been around the mambo scene for years. He has been performing as far back as 1987. His credits include dancing at the Apollo Theater, Avery Fisher Hall, Madison Square Garden and a Tour of Mexico. He has danced on the same stage as Tito Puentes, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Jose Alberto. Throughout his career he was a member of the Mambo Society Dancers (1989), helped formed the Latin Sensation Dance Group (1990) and founded the Mambo Elite Dance Company (1991). He performed, directed, choreographed or help choreograph routines for these groups until he retired from performing in 1994. David has also been a mambo instructor since 1987, teaching private lessons, at the Mambo Society and at the Fazil Dance Studio before opening his Starlite Dance Studio in 1992.

Melendez has dedicated himself to passing on his love of dance to our future generation. He has created the Starlite Dance Studio as a means of giving back to the community, to teach children about their Latin culture, to help keep youth off the streets and help focus their energies into some more positive.

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 My first impression, upon arriving to the Starlite Studio was that of an after school community center. Children were out front jumping rope and playing, while parents were leaving and arriving with their kids. The inside was buzzing with as much activity if not more than the outside. Parents were mingling with each other, children were heading to their perspective classes, the reception desk was a blur of activity and David was there overseeing everything like a Captain does over his ship.

Soon after arriving, David, like a proud Captain, gave me the tour of his "ship". The Studio comes complete with three different dance rooms (allowing up to three classes to be taught simultaneously), reception area, bathrooms and locker room. Children wear a simple uniform consisting of a red t-shirt and black bottom (pants or dress). David’s attitude is that it teaches kids that they are part of a team and avoids any clothes wearing competition common amongst school kids.

The Studio offers a program which includes Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop and Mambo. Ballet & Tap Class for kids ages 3-11 years old. These classes are broken up in age groups (3-4) (5-7) (8-11) and are taught by Miss Saleana. All of the mambo instructors have been taught by David. This way he ensures that all the children learn in a uniform manner. Mambo for Children Age groups are: (5-7) (8-10) (11-16) and are taught by Eddie Camacho, Artie Ythier, Wilma Santiago & David Melendez. Each instructor chooses two separate routines to teach their class. The music and the routines is selected and created by each individual instructor.

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Other activities directly associated with the Starlite Dance Studio are:

1. The Children's Monthly Disco Party for kids 12 years old or younger (no teens) and is held @ Side Street.

2. Monthly Practice Social Dance starting Sunday February 8, 1998 from 3-7 p.m. @ Starlite Studio.

3. Startlite Dance Studio Summer Camp for ages 5-12, starting Monday 6/6/98 to Friday 8/21/98, from 7:30 am - 6:00 pm Monday thru Friday (cost 65 dollars per week per child).

4. Starlite Dance Studio on Dancer’s Night Channel on Channel 68 on Bronxnet Every Tuesday at 12:00 Midnight, 9:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.

To sum things up, I would say that there is an overall positive and fun atmostphere present at David’s studio. The instructors I observed taught their students very professionally. They each had a sense of pride and joy in the technical accomlishments of "their kids". I could see how the students looked up to them as mentors and how they took great care in strengthening that bond of student/teacher. It should also be noted that eventhough David specializes in teaching children; he manages to run a successful adult mambo program. The growth of his adult student body has even surprised him, since he never deliberately seeks out the adult mambo market. I guess his reputation speaks itself. 

David's Style in a nutshell
If I were to describe David’s style of teaching mambo, I would have to say that its very much like David himself, clean, simple and direct. He strongly believes in the development of a strong solid basic foundation. To paraphrase David, he teaches a simple clean style of mambo. His goal is to develop student confidence for club and social dancing. If you want to know the fancy stuff, then he advises you eventually go to others. So if you want to keep your child off the street, channel their energies into a positive skill that will enrich their cultural identity, then I recommend David Melendez and his Starlite Dance Studio.


Dance Company

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