Melissa has been dancing for 22 years. She began her training at age four. Three years later, Melissa found herself at the prestigious and rigorous San Francisco Ballet School for seven years under the direction of Lola DeAvila. While at San Francisco Ballet School, Melissa studied classical ballet, and performed in various performances with San Francisco Ballet.
From there, Melissa desired to expand her dance education and soon found herself at the Metronome Ballroom studying two of her favorite types of dance, swing, with champion Lindy Hop instructor Sharon Ashe, and Theater Arts Adagio with coach, and World Champion adagio cabaret dancer, Tom Slater. Under Tom's wing, she won the 1998 title of United States Pro-Am Theatre Arts Adagio Champion.
While at the Metronome, Melissa met her current dance partner, Arjay Centeno. They paired up in 1999 and trained and competed together in International Ballroom & Latin. Things changed for Arjay & Melissa when they found an intense passion for West Coast Swing.
Melissa and Arjay perform, teach, compete, and judge nationally and internationally. They are ranked among the top west coast swing dancers in the world both individually and as a couple. They are United States Grand National Swing Champions. Together, Arjay & Melissa have won multiple titles in the Showcase Swing, Classic Swing, Strictly Swing, Team, and Jack & Jill Competitions. Melissa is also a two-time winner of the Phoenix Champions of Champions Jack & Jill.
Melissa is known for her versatility as a dancer. She has performed in a variety of solo works on stage as well as on the industrial scene. Melissa had the pleasure of working as Christina Aguilera's dance double in her music video, Candyman. You can also watch Melissa & Arjay dance on the big screen in the movie, Love N' Dancing.
Besides Melissa's dance background, she has also trained in New York City and San Francisco as a singer (classical, musical theater, jazz, pop, country) and actress. Melissa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Marymount Manhattan College with her B.A. in Dance!
MADjam 2013 Champions J&J All Skate
Brad Whelan and Melissa Rutz Booty Wurk