Board of Directors



Music and Arts have been a part of Mr. Mancini’s life since a young age, Performing in Musicals such as The Sound of Music as Maximilian Detweiler, Bubble Trouble, and in Camelot with the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera now Musical Theater Southwest. Mr. Mancini has participated in choral singing again since his youth, from elementary school through high school and college and was a member of the New Mexi-cords, the Barbershop Chorus . He also studied professional voice with David Majoros professional Baritone from New York City. Mr. Mancini studied dance at the Arthur Murry Dance Studio in ABQ, including smooth and rhythm forms, for three years. Mr. Mancini was introduced to Latin club dancing about 8 yrs ago and is an avid enthusiast. As a result of this he became actively involved with the formation and operation of Guanábana Productions, Inc. DBA the Albuquerque Latin Dance Festival.

Mr. Mancini is the proud father of four wonderful children and proud grandfather of 14 beautiful grandchildren.


Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator

Julie began dancing as a child but did not discover Latin dance until her freshman year of college. After her first salsa class, she knew she was hooked. Julie moved to Albuquerque in 2009 to start a doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of New Mexico and immediately sought out the dance community. Her work with the ABQ Latin Dance Festival started in 2010 when she volunteered to run the registration table and she has been increasingly involved ever since.


Vice President

Wellington hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He loves music, dancing and people. He has been involved in multiple aspects of Latin music offerings in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Since moving his family to New Mexico in 1995, he’s been promoting and producing salsa and merengue music events here for the love of the genre ever since. He is a well-known radio personality on KUNM and has been DJing for over 18 years. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Wellington [yet], you will soon! He is just 1/2 a degree of separation from anyone and everyone here in New Mexico.



Kari began with various forms of dance at the age of four. This love of dance led to teaching in Chicago and Minnesota. While teaching dance, she discovered her interest in Latin dance. Kari moved to Albuquerque in 2009 to start the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of New Mexico. She has enjoyed the fact that the Latin dance community is so much broader in Albuquerque than in the Midwest. Her work with the ABQ Latin Dance Festival started in 2010 when she volunteered to help monitor classes and her involvement has increased each year since.


Idalia is in her second year volunteering with the ABQ Latin Dance Festival and focuses on the Marketing/PR and Government Affairs strategy.  A few of Idalia’s passions are music, dance, and art.  She dances salsa, flamenco, and tango, which she believes are three of the most passionate dances.

She has degrees in Economics, Political Science, and International Politics and is fluent in four languages: Spanish, French, Italian, and English, and has traveled to fifty four countries around the world.  She has studied in several countries such as Chihuahua-Mexico, Pamplona- Spain, Paris-France, and at the University of New Mexico, to name a few.  During her undergraduate career, she wrote an electronic academic research book on “The Positive Effects of the Immigration Spectrum in the United States in the Economic and Political Sector, with a concentration in Latino Immigration” which she has written in Spanish, French, and English, and has presented in conferences at Universities throughout the U.S.

Idalia loves classical music, opera, mariachi music, and is an avid violinist.  She has played with the Albuquerque Philharmonic when she is not too busy with the many organizations she is involved with.  She is also a painter, mostly oil, and she describes her art style as early DaVinci and late Picasso.  She loves spending time with her family and her chihuahua dog Kochinada.

Idalia is the owner of ILT International, LLC, a consulting firm that offers services in Government and Political Affairs, and Marketing and PR in English, Spanish, French and Italian.  She also started a winery in Chihuahua, México in partnership with her father.  Idalia currently serves as Communications Director with the State of New Mexico under one of the State Programs.  She has served in high level administrations and is heavily involved in local and state wide politics,  international groups, and in her local community, she serves as president of her neighborhood association in the International District in Albuquerque.

Santiago Candelaria

J. Santiago Candelaria sits on the board of directors of the Albuquerque Latin Dance Festival as a representative of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC). He has been a very proud staff member of the NHCC’s Performing Arts program for more than 11 years-an organization he’s proud to serve, humbled to represent, and grateful to be a part of. It is part of the NHCC’s work ethic and organizational culture to encourage staff to work with the community and with presenting partners in this capacity.  Service on other organizational boards by NHCC staff members is an important part of the Center’s work culture because it strengthens community bonds, continues to raise the bar for programming quality, and allows the Center to be of service to the community, both locally and at-large.

Santiago has an extensive history with social styles of dance. Previously, he was a ballroom dance instructor at Strictly Dancing in Santa Fe, now the Dance Station. He worked as an instructor with High Altitude Swing, teaching swing and Lindy Hop, and was a founding member of The Santa Fe Social Club, teaching salsa and training instructors. In Albuquerque, Santiago has worked with Salsa Baby and Salsasana. He has choreographed for Fright Night, 5$ a Day, and Disco Gravy on film, as well as for numerous theatrical performances. He is also an accomplished actor, with details provided in another biography.

Jessica Montoya

Director of Programming for Dancers/Performers

Jessica is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Taos, NM. She began dancing at the age of 4 years old at the Betty Winslow Dance Studio. She was trained in Classical Ballet, Jazz, and Tap. Simultaneously she trained in gymnastics and Modern Dance with The Marjorie Malone Dance Company.

At the age of 16, Jessica studied abroad in Valencia, Spain, where she studied Flamenco. Upon returning, she performed dinner shows at the Historical Taos Inn and festivals around New Mexico. She also continued studying Flamenco with Maria Benitez summer programs in Santa Fe, and later with Eva Enciñas & Pablo Rodarte at the University of NM. Continuing her education at UNM, she also studied Jazz (Contemporary and lyrical) and Hip Hop with the renowned Loren Fletcher Nickerson.

During this time Jessica also pursued a Radio Disc Jockey career for 10 years for various radio stations in Albuquerque such as 97.3 KISS FM, WILD 106.3 FM, Radio SOL, BIG OLDIES, Classical KHFM, KAGM Talk Radio, The BEAT, and The RANGE. After graduating from UNM with a BA in Psychology / Communications and an endorsement in Performing Arts, she decided to get back into her Latin roots and put her energy into Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha Cha, and Reggaeton.

In 2007 she began teaching Salsa classes at Double Time Dance Studio under the direction of John Henry Moore where she also dipped her toes in Tango and Country Two Step. In 2008 Jessica was cast as a Salsa dancer in the movie Husband For Hire featuring actors Mario Lopez, Marc Consuelos, Nadine Velasquez and several more. After radio, Jessica pursued her Graduate Degree in Education and is now in her 7th year of teaching Kindergarten at an APS charter school.

You can also find Jessica teaching Salsa skills and drills classes at Defined Fitness (Riverside) and Maple Street Dance Studio in Albuquerque, NM. But her greatest joy is being a mother to her two wonderful daughters, Raquel and Kenady.