HOMETOWN: Santiago, Dominican Republic


Candy Mena is a popular dance instructor and performer in the salsa scene.   She was born on November 12th, 1979 in the Dominican Republic. Soon after she was born her family transferred to New Jersey. From a young age, Candy has always shown an athletic ability. Candy was a cheerleader for many years and also studied gymnastics. After finishing school, she began to take salsa classes in October ’98 with Ismael Otero. In just a few classes, Ismael noticed her natural talent. She became part of Ismael dance company Caribbean Soul. Six months later, Ismael Otero introduced her to Jai Catalano.


They danced all night. At the end of the night they agreed to enter a dance competition that was only 18 days away.

They entered the competition (1999) and won first place in the semi-professional category. Soon after, Candy was invited to dance in the dance company of the “Mambo King”, Eddie Torres. Jai and Candy danced for the Eddie for 2 ½ years until they decided to break out and open their own studio, and travel the world as a duet. Together they performed with many famous artists such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Tony Vega, and El Gran Combo.

After five years of working together they parted ways. Since then Candy has become a free lance dancer and has danced with various top dancers and companies such as Juan Matos, Jhesus Aponte, Yamulee, and Angelo Rito. Candy lived in Milan, Italy for two years.  She has returned to New Jersey and her current primary dance partner is Andy Cruz (Chicago).

Primary source: Bio for St. Louis Salsa Congress.




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