Meet Our Instructors
A versatile and passionate leader, Dr. Eric Balmir has achieved great success in both the healthcare and arts sector. Aside from attaining a Doctorate Degree and his accomplishments in the Pharmaceutical field, he has applied his beliefs in the power of mentorship and education by providing a space and community for artists to cultivate their passion for dance. Although Eric grew up dancing at home and at family functions, he began his more formal training in 2008 when a friend took Eric to a local salsa studio. Shortly thereafter, Eric became partners with the owner of the studio he started with and opened a second studio. It wasn’t too long after which Eric decided to purchase the studio from the owner and transformed it into what is now the home of World Latin Dance Champions, Balmir Latin Dance Studio.
MARLENE VERAS, a Brooklyn native and member of Balmir Latin Dance Company’s Pro Team since its inception. She has experience in multiple Latin and Ballroom dances including Salsa, Pachanga, Cha Cha, Bachata, Hustle, Kizomba, Hip Hop, Ballroom, and West Coast Swing. With over 10 years of teaching experience, Marlene is one of Balmir’s top instructors for wedding and sweet sixteen private lessons; and outside the studio, teaches Salsa and Kizomba workshops at Congresses Balmir attends. Aside from teaching, Marlene holds World Champion titles. In 2015, she brought home the Special Award for Pro Heats in Cha Cha and her Cha Cha Showcase at the Canada Salsa Congress. In 2017, at the World Salsa Summit, she became the Salsa On 2 Rising Stars Showcase Champion, with her partner Hunter Houde, as well as Triple Threat Champion (Salsa, Bachata, Hustle) at the 2017 International Hustle and Salsa Congress. With partner, Darin Garcia, she has placed in the Top 3 at the 2017 World Salsa Summit, in the Professional Bachata & Cha Cha division as well. Marlene continues to compete and perform at Congresses around the world.
is one of BLDS’s most popular instructors and a member of Balmir’s Pro Team. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and of Dominican and Puerto Rican decent, Monique grew up dancing Merengue, Bachata and Salsa. Monique started her professional salsa training in 2010 at Latin Fever Dance Studio and in 2011 she became a member of Balmir’s Mambo Tirado under the direction of Ms. Nina Tirado. In 2014, she was promoted to the Balmir Latin Dance Company where she has been traveling, performing and competing nationally and internationally, including Calgary, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican Republic, Toronto, Cozumel, Niagara Falls, Miami and Hawaii. She has won gold medals in Bachata, Salsa, Hustle, Kizomba, and Cha Cha Cha and has never taken anything less than 2nd place in any of her competitions. She recently partnered up with Mike ‘Movimiento’ Garcia and is planning to travel with her new partner. Monique is also featured in the upcoming dance film “Shine”.
is based out of NYC and dancing since the age of 4, Brianna Rios has trained under artists such as Frankie Martinez, Anya Katsevman, Tito Ortos, Tamara Livolsi, Katie Marlow, and Billy Fajardo. She enjoys following her passion for dance through performing, teaching, and competing both nationally and internationally. At 18 years old, while competing at the Miami World Salsa Summit in February of 2014, Brianna became the youngest World Champion in the Professional Salsa On2 Division. Since then, she went on to compete at the World Salsa Masters in Madrid, Spain, had the pleasure to be a U.S. judge in the Asia Open Championships at the India International Dance Congress, was a featured New York City dancer in the upcoming film, "Shine", and is honored to be the female salsa dancer representing the USA at the 2017 World Games in Poland.
was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of 7 he started taking salsa classes with his sister at La Salsa De Hoy. He later joined Young Ambition Dance Company and attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where he trained in ballet, tap, jazz as well as other modern techniques, namely Horton, Graham, and Cunningham. During his senior year, he found his home at BLDS and has remained ever since.
comes from a lifetime of martial arts training. Hunter started training in Latin dance at the age of eighteen. In 2010, he moved to New York to pursue a career in dance, becoming an International Top Teacher with Arthur Murray Dance Studios. In 2010, Hunter also began to train regularly in Afro-Cuban traditional dance forms, with Yesenia Fernandez Selier in NYC. Inspired by these dances, he traveled to Cuba for training several times between 2010 and 2013. From 2012-2016, Hunter trained in Ballet and was exposed to other modern forms of dance through a work-study at Alvin Ailey. In salsa ,he has trained under Anya Katsevman, Franklin Diaz, Eddie Torres, and Eddie Torres Jr. Hunter has been with Balmir since March of 2016, and is currently competing professionally with Balmir Latin Dance Company, and with his professional partner, and fellow Balmirian Marlene Veras.
dance training began at the age of 10 with Diva Works Dance Company where she was exposed to different styles of dance including ballet, jazz and African. Shinee continued her training in ballet and jazz at the Dance Theater of Harlem and attended the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS) for dance. She graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts with a dance diploma and soon began dancing professionally with Mixed Bag. Her salsa training began at La Salsa De Hoy and later transitioned to Latin Fever Dance Studio where she met Eric Balmir and eventually joined the BLDS Pro Team.
Xavier’s training comes from a diversity of professional accomplishments throughout his life. He started with the *Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, from 1985 to 1989. Their, Xavier learned about technique and bringing flavor from his soul by dramatically expressing the upper torso through body movements. Xavier continued with *Eddie Torres until 1994 and later in 2001 to 2004. Xavier remembers how he was able to learn about Eddie’s intricate Turn Patterns which provided him the opportunity to enhance his appreciation for musicality. Furthermore, Xavier believes that his training, under the Eddie Torres curriculum, provided him the skills to better teach along with the opportunity to meet and greet with other great dance instructors in and around the Eddie Torres’s world of dancers. Xavier’s relentless passion for learning has led him to study the theory of dancing. He has trained for International Ballroom Technique, acquiring the knowledge of competition dancing with *Rebecca Abas at the Four Season Dance Studio from 1995 onto 2001. Afterward, he went on to train with Latin Fever Dance Studio and was able to learn over 300 fancy foot shines as well as partner-work techniques.
According to Xavier, “Training under Latin Fever Dance Studio allowed me the opportunity to better understand the professional way to teach the social dancing aspect of dancing to all his students.”