Nicolette Pawlowski, PhD – President/ 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.”

nicolette pawlowski, arthur murray, dance studios close to me, dr. nicolette, studio 101, absolute ballroom

Agustin Garcia – Executive Director/ 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.”

Heidi Islas – Instructor/Team Director

Heidi is a fun, energetic dancer who loves Latin dancing. Although Heidi focuses more on bachata, she also enjoys dancing salsa, swing, and cha-cha and is always open to trying any style of dancing. Her passion for dance came later in life and since then she has been a part of many Latin dance teams including Latin ballroom in different cities: Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. Most recently she has co-choreographed two routines for Pittsburgh’s own salsa congress.
In addition to her eleven years of dance experience in ballet, jazz ballet, ballroom, and Latin dancing she has an extensive background in education, receiving her Master’s in Education in 2009. Her 12 years of experience in a classroom transfers to the dance floor and shines in her dance classes. She keeps her students engaged and shows patience for every type of learner always offering a welcoming smile and providing hands-on feedback.

Justin Kofford – Instructor

Justin learned Swing Dancing in 1994 and since then has developed a love of many dance styles, from the Hokey Pokey to Dougie. He has been teaching salsa classes for seven years 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.

After promising his father that he would not dance anymore, he accidentally stumbled upon a dance battle, where he beats Darkness Child from the dance crew “House of Ninja”. He later teamed up with them to compete in the World Jam dance contest against their rivals. Justin finds his time to be increasingly tighter as he has to choose between family and dance. He won the World Jam, his father’s approval, and his respect by dedicating his heartwarming performance to his father.

Kiera Pyles – Instructor

Kiera started dancing at the age of 3 and it quickly turned into a passion of hers. While her favorite styles are jazz, ballet, and contemporary, she has also studied a numerous other styles such as tap, pointe, and hiphop. Kiera attended Point Park University where she studied dance with a concentration in jazz. After graduation, she booked a job performing with Disney Cruise Line where she danced as she travels the world. Kiera loves to teach dance and enjoys seeing her students grow as people and as artists.

kiera pyles

Krystyna Pawlowski – 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.
Krystyna has trained with multiple top ballroom professionals in International Latin, American Rhythm, Smooth and Standard.

From the year 2000 to 2010 Krystyna competed in many competitions around the country, from Chicago – Crystal Ball, Harvest Moon, Windy City Open, the Indiana Challenge, Grate Race at Notre Dame in Michigan, Columbus Ohio, Las Vegas, Dance Sport Championship in Miami Florida, taking home many championships and first places. She taught dancing at ABC Dance Academy in Chicago and has since joined her daughter Nicolette to develop the ballroom division at Los Sabrosos Dance Co.

Lauren Panza – Instructor

Always active, Lauren grew up in dance and gymnastics, and when her professional life became “all work and no play” eight years ago she found fun, freedom, healing, and profound expansion on her yoga mat. Throughout years of practicing of yoga and meditation, Lauren is constantly reminded of the power that lies within each and every one of us when we connect with ourselves to discover the inspiration that lies within.

Influenced by her teachers, practice, training, and travels, Lauren aims to bring a unique sense of empowerment to each of her classes. Through intention, meditation, and asana her goal is to have students leave each class feeling refreshed and renewed. Lauren’s classes promote yoga that is strong yet easeful, that develop energetic synchronicity in each student’s mind, body, and soul.

Maria Hamer – Instructor/Team Director

Maria Hamer is a long time bellydancer of Pittsburgh, Pa, training tirelessly and passionately for over two decades with some of the most sought-after teachers in this dance form. Her love for bellydance has evolved through many styles over the years. She has co­-directed & 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 glamor/contemporary elements of award-winning Zafira Dance Company, active for over 11 years.

She has spearheaded and been a part of many successful events & festivals in the Pittsburgh areas with shows from big theater stages to small intimate settings. She’s traveled the globe studying, teaching, performing and has collaborated with some of the most notable dancers in her genre such as: Jill Parker, Zoe Jakes, & 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.

Melissa Osburn – Instructor

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 fell in love with yoga as well.
You’ll find Melissa teaching community (free) yoga all over Pittsburgh. She offers classes to her co-workers, clients, and at her children’s school. In addition, Melissa teaches classes to men and women 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!

Sarah Byrne-Houser- Instructor

Hi! I’m Sarah… and I can’t wait to meet you!

I started dance classes at age two (after my mom fudged her way through the part of the registration that included my age). I spent years training in tap and ballet, but jazz held my heart. As a teen and young adult, some of my dance experience also came from performing in musicals. I love music – almost every type – and have trouble not moving to music no matter the setting!

After graduating from college, getting a “real” job, and having my first child all within a year, I lost connection with my dance background. In 2009, I registered for a Zumba instructor training…without ever taking a single class. Zumba offered an opportunity to weave the joy of dance back into my life. Soon after, I started catching the group fitness bug and picking up additional certifications including R.I.P.P.E.D, Bokwa, and Strong Nation™.

When you join my class, I hope (more than anything else) that you HAVE FUN. I hope that you find the rhythms irresistible, sing along with the music, connect with the class…and find it hard not to do the moves in public yourself. Most importantly, I hope that you leave every class with a smile. The steps (and the strength) will come.

Sarah Byrne-Houser, Zumba, Strong Nation

Sarah Malott – Administrator

Sarah has been involved in the arts for the majority of her life. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in theater design and production, and since then she has been working in a variety of arts administration roles. She loves using the arts to build community, and to help people find the creativity in themselves that they never knew existed.

sarah malott, administrator, dance classes, dance pittsburgh, fitness classes

Sarah Markwardt – Instructor

Se habla español.

Hello! I’m Sarah, and I’m a trained dance fitness instructor and public health professional. I teach Los Sabrosos’ Strength & Toning classes where my focus is to help people enhance their mind-body connection while building endurance, strength, flexibility, balance, and self-love. Come to my classes prepared for sweat, support, and a few solid dad jokes. My classes should challenge you, and I provide modifications to ensure that the exercises are the most appropriate for your fitness level and goals.

Outside of teaching here at the studio, I spend too much time playing soccer, dancing bachata, or kayaking, and not enough time listening to voicemails or switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer. If you see me in the studio or walking a giant, fluffy dog down the block, please stop me to say hi!

Stan Kochanek, PhD – Instructor/ Team Director

Stan is a well rounded, smooth, and exciting dancer who enjoys incorporating many different Latin styles into his dancing. He has been dancing Salsa and Bachata since college, where he ran Latin dance club for several years. Stan has taken his passion for dancing and put it into performing. He has been on several of Los Sabrosos performance teams as well as recently with Mexican national champion, Lenin Guerrero Maldonado. In addition, Stan has co-choreographed several routines, most notably for Pittsburgh’s Salsa Congress, Salsa Fuego.

Apart from Stan’s seven years of Latin dance training, he has also been providing dance instruction for several clubs, events, and now at Los Sabrosos. Stan is currently in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is also a Teaching Assistant, and has been honing his teaching skills and techniques since 2013.