Nicolette Garcia-Pawlowski, PhD
CEO / Co-Founder / Team Director
In addition to over 20 years of dance experience in Ballet, Folk, Ballroom and Latin dancing, Nicolette has an extensive background in education and facilitation, with a doctorate in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her classes are dynamic and technically grounded, with boundless energy that keeps her students engaged and laughing even after hours of practice.
“My mother started learning dance at the age of 42. I had a partner who would dance till 4am and get up to work at 7am. There is something about dancing: despite long hours at the computer, aching feet, disagreements with friends, once you go out on the dance floor, or the side walk, and hear the music, everything lifts. When I dance Salsa, life is beautiful. I want to share my passion and my love of teaching with you.”
COO / Co-Founder / Team Director
Agustin has taught dance for over 15 years. His instruction, feedback, and energy make the lessons feel enjoyable while putting students at ease and comfortable with every new step. Agustin will always notice and take the time to give feedback to students that are struggling, even in crowded group lessons.
“I started dancing in 1999. I always love the variety of people I meet through dancing. I love to dance because it gives me freedom. I love to teach because I get to see people enjoy higher levels of confidence on and off the dance floor.”
Laura E. Cañuelas-Torres
Laura is a PhD student who loves dancing (especially Bellydancing), animals, and cosplaying. Before Los Sabrosos she worked as a Programs Coordinator for Los Alamos Arts Council, cooperating with artists and other shareholders to create events for the community. Her educational background includes an MA in Communications Theory and Research and a BA in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico.
Laura loves meeting new people and doing all she can to help everybody have a wonderful experience!
“As a plus-size dancer, I understand the value of having a safe and empowering environment where everyone feels welcome and supported. I do my best to provide that for all who enter Los Sabrosos.”
Nikki is a recent college graduate with a BA in World Languages and Cultures with concentrations in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish from the University of South Florida. Growing up in dance studios, he’s spent ample time on and off the stage and feels right at home here at Los Sabrosos. With years of administrative work under his belt, Nikki aims to make everyone feel at home too!
“As somebody who has danced at many different studios throughout his life, I know firsthand how nerve-wrecking it can be to start somewhere new. The warm welcome I’ve received as an administrator as well as the sense of belonging that I’ve found both in classes and at events has easily made Los Sabrosos one of the best dance studios I’ve ever been a part of.”
Addie is a long-time Los Sabrosos student and started working as an studio administrator in July 2021. She loves dancing Salsa (especially Rueda de Casino) and Kizomba but her one true love is Brazilian Zouk, which is slowly growing in Pittsburgh largely thanks to Los Sabrosos! Addie officially started teaching as the studio’s Zouk Instructor in March 2022. Aside from dancing, Addie loves her pupchild (Arya), hiking, traveling, and Arabic. She worked as a college Arabic instructor for 8 years (5 of those in Oregon) before deciding to move home, reassess her life and future, and to be near family and friends (and their growing kiddos!). She would like to do something related to ecology/sustainability and really wants to be friends with an octopus one day.
Sarah started dance classes at age two and spent years training in Tap and Ballet but Jazz held her heart. As a teen and young adult, some of her dance experience also came from performing in musicals. She loves music – almost every type – and has trouble not moving to music no matter the setting!
After graduating from college, getting a “real” job, and having her first child all within a year, she lost connection with her dance background. In 2009, she registered for a Zumba instructor training without having ever taken a single class. Zumba offered an opportunity to weave the joy of dance back into her life. Soon after, she started catching the group fitness bug and picked up additional certifications including R.I.P.P.E.D, Bokwa, and Strong Nation™.
Savionne Chambers is an artist originating from Baltimore, Maryland. She is a proud graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts and Point Park University. Her current interest is increasing the visibility of various cultures and identities on stage while influencing her community through dance education, choreography, and humanitarianism.
Instructor / Team Director
Maria is a long time local bellydancer training tirelessly and passionately for over two decades with some of the most sought-after teachers in the dance form. Her love for Bellydance has evolved through many styles over the years. She has co-directed and helped in pioneering East Coast Tribal companies such as “Folkloric inspired” Ghawazee Middle Eastern Music & Dance Ensemble in the mid 90’s, to the more theatrical & earthy glamour/contemporary elements of award-winning Zafira Dance Company, active for over 11 years.
She has spearheaded and been a part of many successful events and festivals in the Pittsburgh area with shows anywhere from big theater stages to small intimate settings. She’s traveled the globe studying, teaching, and performing as well as collaborating with some of the most notable dancers in her genre such as Jill Parker, Zoe Jakes, and many others. Currently as a solo artist, she collaborates with her sisters, Christine Andrews and Jennifer Imashev, as The Hamer Sisters, as well as building her student troupe Tarab.
Instructor / Team Director
Heidi is a energetic dancer who loves Latin dancing and an instructor who is truly passionate about her students’ learning. She combines her passion for teaching with her passion for dance to create a fun, friendly, inclusive dance environment. She strongly believes in building a strong technical foundation to lead any student to become a better dancer. Her motto is: “It’s all about the basics!”
Heidi focuses more on Bachata, Salsa, and Cha-Cha, even though she enjoys all styles of dance and is always looking for new inspiration to add to her personal style. She has been dancing since she was 5, taking a combination of Ballet, Jazz, Ballroom, and Latin dance classes. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that she started honing in on Latin dance. While living in Boston, she was introduced to Rueda de Casino and fell in love with the dynamic of dancing with partners. She then continued her training with various dance schools and after moving to Pittsburgh in 2014 started to choreograph, teach, and train for competitions. In 2020 she became World Champion with her dance partner, Stanton Kochanek, at the World Salsa Summit in Miami in their division.
Heidi has concurrently run 4 dance performance teams, from beginner to competition level. She has taught and performed locally, nationally, and internationally and continues to teach all levels of Latin dance.
Stanton Kochanek, PhD
Instructor / Team Director
Stanton is an accomplished Latin dancer who joined Los Sabrosos in 2013 as a student, actively participating on several performance teams. Several years later Stanton joined our teaching staff and with Heidi Islas, created the Bachatalicious and Fuerza Steel teams. Stanton and Heidi have taken their teams to perform and compete all across the country. Most notably, they competed at the World Salsa Summit in 2020 in several divisions bringing home 1st in the Rising Star semi-pro Bachata division, where Stanton also helped one of his students attain 1st in the over 40 pro-am division.
Apart from being an avid dancer and performer, Stanton also maintains a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Pitt and works as a scientist at Kalivir Immunotherapeutics assisting in the design of pre-clinical models for testing cancer treatments.
Sara Jacobs-Rodriguez is a lifelong dancer. She started competing at age 4, learning Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Gymnastics, and Baton. From elementary school through college she practiced competitive cheer leading and Hip-hop dancing, and was a co-Ed cheerleader for Slippery Rock University. She started practicing Latin dance in 2013, and started performing on teams in Pittsburgh by 2015.
Sara joined Los Sabrosos as a performer in 2018 and has been teaching kids classes since 2019. Sara is a pediatric RN case manager and working with children is her truest passion.
Justin learned Swing dancing in 1994 and since then has developed a love of many dance styles, from the Hokey Pokey to the Dougie. He has been teaching Salsa classes since 2006 in the Pittsburgh area and has a deeply rooted love for the Latin dance style. Justin has performed in Los Angeles, New York, and Puerto Rico for their respective Salsa Congresses. Justin views dance mainly as a very efficient way to have fun but finds his time to be increasingly tighter as he has to choose between family and dance.
Samannaaz began her dance journey at 15 years old in Mumbai, India. Her passion for dance piqued while she was on vacation with her family at a resort, which featured unique dance performances each evening during dinner time. She became friends with one of the dancers and learned some dance moves, eventually landing a small part in one of the performances. Upon her return to Mumbai she signed up at a dance academy and has since dabbled in many styles including Bollywood, Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop, Ballroom and Latin dancing.
In Pittsburgh, she danced and competed as a member of the CMU Ballroom Club between 2009 and 2011. She joined Los Sabrosos in 2016 as a student, performing and competing with the Fuerza Steel Team. She has choreographed and performed for several cultural events and dance competitions during her undergraduate and graduate college days. She and her husband are both avid dancers and choreographers who like to outcompete each other.
Melissa took her first yoga class 12 years ago. That experience completely changed her life. Driven by her love of the practice and the peace she found on her mat, she dove in headfirst and became a certified 200-hour instructor in 2017. She has since gone on to become certified in children’s yoga and trauma-informed yoga. Melissa is a full-time social worker, working for Community Human Services, where they provide housing for the homeless. She believes that everybody deserves a home! In addition to her full-time social work, she also has three children, who have all fallen in love with yoga as well.
You’ll find Melissa teaching free community yoga all over Pittsburgh. She offers classes to her co-workers, clients, and at her children’s school. In addition, Melissa teaches classes to people in recovery. Each day, she looks forward to her time on her mat and can’t wait to share her love of yoga with you!
Always active, Lauren grew up in dance and gymnastics classes, and when her professional life became “all work and no play” ten years ago, she found fun, freedom, and profound expansion logging hours on her yoga mat. After studying with wonderful teachers in Atlanta, and spending a year in Madrid for graduate school, she moved back to her roots in Pittsburgh and was certified to teach at the Kula Kamala Ashram in Reading, PA, completing a 200-hour teaching program based in traditional Hatha yoga in 2018.
Throughout years of practicing yoga asanas and meditation, Lauren has been constantly reminded of the power that lies in each of us when we connect with ourselves to discover the magic that lies within. She aims to bring a unique sense of empowerment to each of her classes by promoting yoga that is strong yet easeful, based in alignment and learning, leaving each student refreshed and renewed in mind, body, and spirit at the end of class.
Ever creative and adventurous, Yangzer’s dance journey began at the tender age of five years old. Starting from scratch as a self-taught dancer, he began taking his art more seriously in 2018 with the dream of turning his passion into a career.
Yangzer is now a professional Hip-Hop dancer and instructor. When he’s not teaching here at Los Sabrosos, he’s working as a game technician at Dave & Buster’s. He also founded his own street dance group, the Lost Culture Crew, with which he regularly performs. Yangzer hopes to pass on to his students his love of self-expression through art and the confidence to explore new movements every time they step onto the dance floor.
Instructor / Team Director
Krystyna has an extensive background in music and dance, with over 17 years in piano training and over 15 years in ballroom training. Krystyna first started as a professional music teacher in Poland. After discovering her passion in dance, she transferred her teaching skills to the dance floor. She has trained with multiple top ballroom professionals in International Latin, American Rhythm, Smooth, and Standard.
From 2000 to 2010 Krystyna competed in many competitions around the country including the Chicago Crystal Ball, Windy City Open, the Indiana Challenge, Grate Race at Notre Dame in Michigan, the Dance Sport Championship in Miami, and many others, taking home many championships and first places. She taught dance at ABC Dance Academy in Chicago and has since joined her daughter, Nicolette, to develop the Ballroom division at Los Sabrosos.
Jorge is a competitive dancer with an ear for music and a love of connection. His foundation for dance comes from an athletic and musical background growing up. The former was nurtured through sports such as soccer, baseball, and martial arts, while the latter was gained through playing the trombone. While his family and heritage enabled him to learn the very basics of Latin dance, Jorge took his first class at Los Sabrosos in 2017. There he joined the Bachatalicious Dance Team and has been dancing ever since. Jorge has competed in the World Salsa Summit and continues to compete where able, earning a few medals along the way. He has performed across the country, and looks forward to traveling for congresses and improving his dance. Through his classes, Jorge hopes to spread his love of dance to his students and allow them to advance in their ability so they can have fun and look great doing it.