JESSE MUNOZ

Paired with: Nicole Billingsley

In 1981 Jose “Jesse” Munoz, then a student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, started working part time at Fred Astaire Dance Studios and the rest is history. Through hard work and a passion for dance he soon advanced in the organization and in 1987 won the Top Teacher award for the entire worldwide Fred Astaire chain. That same year he relocated as part of a team developing new markets in Memphis, and eventually expanded to Nashville, Knoxville, and Chatanooga as well with the newly formed National Dance Clubs and United States Dance Clubs franchises.

Throughout this period, Jesse also competed professionally with his partner Marsha Bloss. While they won many awards, including second place at the prestigious Grand National Competition in Miami, Jesse’s primary focus was his students. His teaching and coaching produced champions at every level from Bronze to Supreme Gold in regional and national open competitions.

By 1996, having acted as an instructor, choreographer, dance director, and manager at several studios throughout the mid-south, Jesse decided it was time to open his own studio. Memphis Ballroom Dance Company served as a center of dance excellence for many years and many Memphians will remember the MBDC Showcase extravaganzas staged annually at the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Today, Jesse enjoys semi-retirement but still offers his time and talent for local charity events and as a mentor at Cat’s Ballroom. His impact on the Memphis dance culture has been profound.