The award winning Rhythm & Grace Ballroom Dance Studio was founded by Angel Criado, with his wife, Cree, in Lakewood, OH, October 2014, as an alternative for many existing dance studio business practices in Cleveland. Angel has been teaching ballroom dance lessons in Ohio since 1987. (That is over 28 years of experience in social, ballroom and competitive dance instruction and performance!)
A native of Ohio, Angel was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, of Hispanic heritage. He is an alum of Boardman High School where he primarily concentrated on the visual and performing arts. Upon graduation, Angel pursued a career as a Ballroom and Latin performer and instructor in Boardman, OH, and was fortunate to work with many of the highest level dance professionals the field had to offer, who were brought in to the studio regularly. Angel became a certified teacher for 8 different dance organization's syllabuses, and is presently working on several more.
Due to the exhilaration and enjoyment he discovered early on in ballroom dance, he developed a knack for sharing the enthusiasm with others through his teaching methodology, and discovered his own passion as a teacher and the drive to create a sustaining career in ballroom.
During his time in Youngstown and later, Cleveland and Columbus, he also developed further skills in other forms of dance, including Theater Arts (a more interpretive dance form requiring lifts) and choreography. Angel established himself as a competitive instructor earning various Top Teacher Awards through his students' achievements at dancesport/competitive Ballroom dance events. One of his more signal accomplishments at this time was training the Ohio Star Ball Junior Pro/Am American Rhythm Champion of 1991. Angel also was a choreographer for and performed in the Youngstown Playhouse's 1991 Cole Porter Review. Angel managed an Ohio area Franchise in Warren, Ohio and also became their Rising Star Champion in 1993.
With a desire to learn more about other aspects of organizations and a recognition that certain skills cross very easily into completely dis-related fields, Angel got away from dancing for a time in Columbus, Ohio, where he worked in health care and construction in the areas of marketing, public relations and sales while extensively pursuing continuing education on those subjects as well as administration.
Angel soon returned to dance, this time pursing a more professional Dancesport competitor interest; while still continuing to teach social dance & coach Dancesport; including instructing the Ohio State University Social Dance Club. Angel expanded his teaching curriculum to include not only American Rhythm & Smooth styles of dance, but also proficiency in the International Standard & Latin styles. Angel also developed new competitive students, while still coaching. With his professional partner, he performed for local advertising agencies, was featured in local news and newspaper items as well as T.V. commercials and corporate training videos intended to assist health programs. He also competed in Ohio & Pennsylvania dance competitions (taking finalist and semi-finalist placements) and headlined the professional show for the 1997 United States Amateur Ballroom Dance Association's (USA Dance) Buckeye Ball. Angel also judged several collegiate competitions. At this time, on a more humanitarian note, Angel also toured about Columbus and performed for and/or taught at health clubs, local schools, retirement and assisted living communities to rekindle or introduce to others the joy of social Ballroom and Latin dancing.
Angel also pursued study into digital graphics, and web development and design - becoming a freelance developer, artist and consultant. As part of this development (and being a superhero fan at heart) Angel proposed, and working with a team of professionals - brought about the reconstruction of a very significant piece of hitherto unknown history for a world renown character. (Angel still does freelance logo design, web development, portraiture and illustration, by request for some specific clients that request his services in that arena.)
In 2011, Angel met his wife, Cree, and returned to Cleveland. Cree, herself, began training as a professional in 2009 and managed the Northfield franchised dance school for some years. She has since become a full-time mother with their first child together, Nilsa Malena (born 2014) and returned as an amateur dancer, partnering with Angel.
Continuing as an independent dance teacher, Angel has assisted franchised dance studios in Columbus and Cleveland develop their advanced dance students and staff to improve their dance standards and pursue competitive ballroom dance. As of the 1st half of 2014, Angel attained a high mark being recognized for teaching the highest volume of dance lessons for a male instructor in the Ohio franchised studio region (while also teaching independently) and has developed one of four amateur championship winners in the same region.
There were several reasons he and his wife determined to leave the franchise world, however it was primarily observing a ongoing trend in students to pursue more transparency in schools as well as realistically priced quality alternatives in dance schools after so long. This was observed in each of the franchise schools Angel and Cree have worked with. Understanding that he and his wife could actually fill the need of that market, and it is a broad one, while still being able to give excellent standards of service, they established Rhythm & Grace. They determined that their school will not need to add additional franchise costs, can operate primarily on private lessons (they did not want to make their studio a "social club" so students would then be more likely go out and use their dancing in the community-at-large, at the many social dance opportunities abundant in Cleveland), and they would be able to provide transparent pricing to students as they pursued higher levels of dance (the student would see exactly what they are paying for and see it was fair and not full of odd fees, as is common in many dance schools). In short, their philosophy was to help their students get the most value for their efforts. They further offer 55 minute long lessons, over the 40 minute norm in the industry, and keep their lesson rates well under the industry average (due to controlled overhead costs). Their basic business philosophy is essentially following the Golden Rule: how Cree and Angel would want to be treated if they were dance students themselves; and this is how the school works.
In the present Angel continues maintaining his web consultancy and continues his illustration and graphic arts work as well, strictly on a referral basis. His primary focus is, of course, the school he and his wife founded and stays very active with his 1st love, Ballroom & Latin dance, as a teacher, coach, staff trainer/consultant and competitor. The studio came out the gates strong winning a Top Studio award in September of 2014, and several scholarships for his students, and continues its award winning tradition.
Because of the myriad of skills developed over his career, he is able to draw from a very deep well of experience and understanding in whatever project he is currently working on, with the added quality of an aesthetic mind, evidenced by the excellence his students demonstrate in their performance of dance.